Matt, the O.R. waiting room is packed. I look around and see the faces of family members, their eyes telling the story of fear. The anxiety is palpable in this room. I find a seat by the door so I can make a quick exit when my own anxiety hits and I need my space to breathe. Ray’s family files in and we claim our corner in this place where no one wants to be. We are given name tags to be identified as family of the patient. Ray’s sister hands me one that says Cichocki. Put it on she says, you’re already a member we just need you to make it official. I stick it on my shirt and start to think about the wedding.
Everything is set except the date. We need to get through this day before we can even think of a time frame. I have been blessed with a very flexible group of people willing to work with us to pull off this crazy wedding. For now Ray’s mom is the priority. I sit and watch Ray. He’s nervous. Stress is taking the light out of his beautiful eyes. His face is lined with worry. It breaks my heart to see him this way. Then it hits. There is no relationship more precious than a mother and her son. Oh God. I look at this man, now a scared little boy. I continue to watch, unobserved by Ray who is lost in his own world. Is he thinking about his childhood. Memories of his mom, the love they share. The stories he’s told about his childhood always revolved around his mom. Now I observe the man and know that the little boy lives inside that grown mans body and he wants his mom.
My thoughts drift to us. All the great times we shared before the demons found you. The joy and laughter. The peace and love that filled our lives. We shared the love of the sea, the love of dogs, the love of family and friends. Now we share your addiction and our dirty little secret. How did we become who we are. You, my precious boy. My friend. I watched you grow from a happy go lucky young boy to a somewhat troubled adolescent to a very trouble man. A man who found his answer in a bottle of pills. Pills that changed who you were and turned me into a mom I never wanted to be. Pills that made you do and say things we would have never imagined. Pills that have allowed you to rip my heart out while I watched you start to self destruct. Still my love for you remains unchanged. You are my son and I am your mother. I know you love me as much as I love you. I know it’s the demons that make you ugly and hateful. I know as long as there is a breath in my body I will fight the fight to keep you free from the hell and chaos your demons bring. This bond is like no other. The cord is never cut. Mothers stay in connection with their sons. The love never stops. Hate the addiction Love the addict.
I drift back to reality. This is crazy. I hate hospitals, yes I know I work here. I hate being on this side. The waiting side, the no control side. You know I’m always in control. Ok, I think God is teaching me patients. I tell Ray I need to get some air. I need to call you. I need to hear your voice and tell you I love you. I need to hear that you’re ok. No chaos today. I couldn’t take it today. You answer quickly. Hey Mom, whats up. I listen closely now not liking the greeting. Matt, where are you, are you ok. Fine Mom, just fine. Oh God, not now. Not when I need to be here, not when I’ve asked you to stay clean. Not after the promise. Matt, what the hell. I’m in the hospital waiting to hear about Ray’s mom. I can’t handle this now. I’m trying to keep my voice down as the panic is rising in my chest. How could you do this to me now. I’m trying to reason with you as I feel a hand on my arm. I turn to see Ray’s face. His eyes full of concern. Matt stop this now. I hang up. Breathless. Ray looking at me waiting for an explanation. Oh God, I can’t do this today. Can’t dump this on him now. Need more time to sort this out. Maybe Matt was just tired. Maybe just stressed. I was going to maybe myself right out of this one. No way was I going down this ugly road today. Forgive me God, but I’m going to lie. Nothing big. Matt just being Matt.
Rays sister appears. A smile on her face. Mom is fine. Surgery over. We can see her soon. Thank you God. Some great news. I see Ray relax. The worry slipping from his face. Our conversation forgotten. We return to our corner. A calmness now settles around us. I put my I’m just great mask on. Oh God, what now. I’m smiling and talking but my mind is spinning. Trying to be part of this happy family, sharing the joy of a mother saved. One day so many emotions. I’m beat. My heart heavy with the burden of the unknown. My dirty little secret buried for now…..No laughter just deafening silence.