Even from a young age, I understood that my mom was different than most moms. She didn’t get to do everything together with me. A lot of times, she was in the hospital. When I was younger, I couldn’t visit her when she was there, but as I grew older, and her hospital stays continued, I was able to see her.
When I was around eight or nine years old, I loved riding my bike. It was one of my favorite things to do. One day, I told Mom that I wanted to go out and ride bikes with one of my friends.
“Alright, just be back before five,” She told me.
“Mom,” I started. “Why don’t you have a bike?”
“Because I can’t breathe long enough to ride one,” She explained to me. (Mom had a rare lung disease that prevented her from doing even everyday things.)
“When will you be able to breathe long enough to?” I asked. She sighed, and smiled at me.
“After I get that lung transplant,” She told me with enthusiasm in her voice.
For years, I believed it. I thought she’d get the transplant, and I thought that she’d be able to ride bikes with me one day. I believed it until I was around maybe fifteen, but I continued to say in my mind, “She’ll be able to…” I never lost hope. And to be honest, I don’t think Mom ever lost it either. Maybe she was just keeping up a front to keep me from freaking out, but she always told me that things would get better, and that it’d always work out.
After Mom’s fall in October of 2015, we were sitting with her in the OSU ICU, talking with doctors. They were explaining some of the things about Mom we already knew. They were very kind and thoughtful as they went over all the little details.
“Do you have any questions?” The one doctor asked. Dad said that he was ok on questions, but he turned to me to ask if I had any.
“Will she be able to get a transplant? Ever?” I asked. I saw Dad look down at his hands and the doctor smiled at me sadly.
“Unfortunately, she’s too far along. It would be too much of a risk at this point,” She told me. That was when the dream really broke for me. It was the moment that I had realized even years before, coming to life. I wanted to break down and scream and cry. But I didn’t. I just smiled and nodded. She was never going to ride bikes with me.
Maybe a month after she passed, I felt an extreme anger. It wasn’t directed at Mom. All of my anger has been directed at other people, myself, God, the situation…I remember this first bout of anger as, “Why didn’t I ever get the chance to do all the ‘normal’ things parents and children do? Why didn’t I get to go out to places with Mom? Go shopping? Go out to eat? Why didn’t she really ever get to go to any of my events?” I tossed myself onto the bed and sighed. “Why didn’t we get to ride bikes together?”
She promised, I thought. But I never thought of it as her breaking her promise. She wanted to ride bikes. She wanted to go out to places. To go shopping. To see me at my school events. But she couldn’t. She was sick. It wasn’t her fault. It was never her fault. I wanted someone to blame though. So for the longest time, and I still do, I blamed myself.
Of course, now I mostly see that, life happens this way sometimes. It’s no one’s fault that she was sick. I remember once, Mom told me that she believed in Heaven, and that she’d be healthy on the other side one day. She might not have gotten the transplant she needed in this lifetime, but I know she’s waiting for me on the other side with a shiny new bike she won’t touch till I get there.