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To My Mom, From Your Chronically Ill Daughter

To my mom:

Thank you for sitting with me in the hospital those first two weeks, when we had no idea what was going on and I was in a daze from pain medications but you had nothing to numb your fear or lack of knowledge. Regardless, you put on a strong face. You bought me a stuffed animal. You brought flowers to my room every day.

Thank you for doing endless research on my disease, looking up clinics, treatments, supplements – more than any doctor ever has, and more than any doctor ever will. You are my primary care physician.

Thank you for listening to me and allowing me to be more emotionally vulnerable with you than any therapist or psychiatrist ever could allow me to be. I feel safe with you, even when I am angry at you.

Thank you for sitting through the storms that my illness has caused me: the anger, the confusion, the grief, the denial raging through my body. I took a lot out on you. And still, you gave nothing back but love.

Thank you for trying to understand the pain that only I will truly understand. Instead of ridiculing me or brushing me aside, you listen, you listen, you listen. And you only give love back.

Thank you for putting your emotional needs aside at times when mine seemed to spill over the top. I know you have sacrificed so much; that is what mothers do. But I know you go through pain seeing an ill child struggle – thank you for comforting me even when you must be feeling intense sadness at times.

Thank you for telling me – when I told you I was ready to give up, ready to end it all – that you would not be able to continue without me. I felt your love more keenly than I ever have at that moment. It made me feel relevant, human – more than just a body on an exam or operating table.

Thank you for sitting with me through countless infusions and holding my hand when I get IVs – even now that I’m an “IV pro” and don’t need comfort. You want to help. I know that, and I appreciate it endlessly.

Thank you for continuing to have hope that I will feel better one day, even though I myself have lost that hope. You never cease to tell me that you believe that something will work. Something will be good for me. I have good things ahead, and that is one of the reasons I am still here.

Thank you for this text you sent me last week:

I spend a lot of time thinking about how much I love you. So many things have changed, but even now I see in you the determined little soul born almost 20 years ago.

You are the reason I am still here, still existing, still trying. You have always been the most important person in my life, but my illness solidified that. My diagnosis and the treatments, procedures and infusions to follow made our relationship more personal, more raw. And for that, I am grateful. I love you. Thank you.

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Thinkstock photo via Jupiterimages.