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Momma’s boy

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With a household of four, someone was almost always at home. On a January afternoon, I walked into my unusually empty house.

I brushed it off and after a quick nap, I felt my stomach grumbling. I wondered where everyone was but my hunger dominated my curiosity. After raiding the fridge, my phone started to ring. It was my father.

“Michael, I’m with your mother in the hospital …”

My stomach tightened as he said she had been vomiting all day and collapsed at work.

Every thought in my head was consumed by the thought of my mom doubled over in agony.

• • •

When I was in preschool, the night before Dr. Seuss Day, I told my mom that a month ago the teachers said to wear a Dr. Seuss inspired costume.

After a heavy sigh, she busted out her sewing kit and got to work. I fell asleep with my head on her lap as she quietly cut fabric and sewed it together. In one night she finished a bright red Thing One costume, which is still hanging in my closet. I don’t think I ever thanked her. And now she was barely conscious.

My mind ran wild with questions. My dad told me the doctors were still working to figure out what was happening, but I couldn’t focus on a single word he said. My dad promised she would be fine, still waves of anxiety overwhelmed me. He told me her doctor had entered the room and hung up. The call ended and it hit me, I was scared of losing my mother.

She was always there to comfort me. I remembered when, in fourth grade, my birthday fell on a Thursday. With both my parents working, staying home and celebrating wasn’t an option.

I wasn’t very popular so I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t receive a single ‘Happy Birthday!’ At lunch, I trudged to my spot in the corner, but then I saw my mother waiting in her work clothes with a bag of Subway. She brought my favorite lunch with a special halloween cookie shaped like a pumpkin. People noticed, and before I got on the bus, I got so many ‘Happy Birthdays!’ I lost count.

I slumped over in my chair, gripping my phone with white knuckles. I would’ve given anything to be in that room, to know what was happening.

After what felt like hours, Dad called me back.

The doctors said she had kidney stones. They are so painful that my mother, the toughest woman I know, was doubled over on a hospital bed and my father said he hadn’t seen her in this much pain since she gave birth. He told me they’d be home later that night.

I spent the next several hours researching kidney stones, their symptoms, treatments and their mortality rates. Despite my fathers and the doctor’s reassurance she’d be fine, I had to know for myself.

As I researched, I realized I took advantage of all the love she had given me. I felt guilty. I had spent my entire life oblivious to all she does and now all I could think about was the thanks I never gave her.

That night when my father opened the door, I had to stop myself from tackling my mom with a hug. Now that I knew she was okay and she was home, I wanted to give her the thanks I never did but when we got to her room, all the questions I had poured out.

“Are you okay? Do you need anything? What happened at work?”

She waved her hand, gesturing me to stop my interrogation. My mother, after experiencing some of the worst pain of her life and being hospitalized for over six hours looked me in the eyes and with perfect sincerity said, “Yeah, yeah I’m fine, but how was your day, baby?”

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Momma’s boy