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The Best Gift My Mother Gave Me When I Was Sick

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Mothers always want to save their children from pain. From birth they reach out to catch us from falling and protect us as much as they can from the inevitable pain that can surround us in this world. Yet, the world is not always so kind, and mothers cannot always protect us from our pain. I remember the moment I locked eyes with my mom and saw the helplessness in her eyes.

I looked straight at her with tears rolling down my cheeks as the nurse blew a vein in my arm. Mom looked back at me with an agonizing look, as she could not protect me from the prick of a needle that was meant to find answers, not further pain.

The nurse apologized profusely and switched staff members to do another blood draw as I sat sobbing on the bench of the cold doctor’s office. I was so tired of having my blood drawn, and having yet another vein blown. After a few calming statements by the nurse and the last tube of blood filled, my mom held onto me as we walked out of the doctor’s office and back into the car.

I had calmed my tears and held onto the gauze wrapped around my arm. I looked over at Mom as she drove us home.

“You OK Mama? You look almost as pale as me!” I half-heartedly joked to make light of the situation.

She looked straight ahead towards the road and replied, “I just don’t know what to do when I can’t protect you.”

“It’s OK Mama, it is just the way it is. Next time, we will know what to ask for so they don’t blow another vein — hopefully.” I said in return.

When we arrived home, Mom held me close for a few moments, “It will get better. We will find some answers, and you will be healthy again.” She said optimistically.

“Perhaps you’re right Mama, perhaps you’re right.” I said.

I walked over to the bathroom to hop in the shower, but still needed help undressing. I called out to Mom for help, and she came rushing in.

As my shirt reached over my head, I could sense her reaction to the bruises covering my chest. My body was only a week out from having breast-tumor surgery, and my chest was a calico design of black, blue and yellow formations.

“Oh Bethany dear, does that hurt?” She asked with pain in her voice.

I sheepishly looked back at her, desperately wanting to lie about my pain. I could see the pain in her eyes at the way the bruises covered my body. My hand and arm displayed a vibrancy of purple from veins being blown, and my chest was decorated in the warrior marks from surgery.

In that moment, I realized I share many things with my mom, but pain always seemed to be something I wanted to hide. I wanted to be tough like her, to be resilient in the face of adversity. As much as she wanted to protect me from my pain, I wanted to protect her from it, too.

“It will get better,” Mom said with a hopeful understanding.

At times, I’ve wanted to feel hopeless about things. I wanted to curl up in my own depression about the series of ailments that led me to far too many blood tests and eventual fibroadenoma tumor surgery. For me, the tumor was benign, but I know others have not experienced as positive a review from their tests.

Without the love of my mother, my recovery experience may have looked very different. She would come home during her lunch break at work to check up on me, switch out icepacks and hand me another glass of chocolate milk. She did not let me feel hopeless, because she believed in a better tomorrow.

In a series of health problems that has traced my every step, my mom has never given up on me. She has attentively listened to my frustrations and has offered nothing but encouragement and a shoulder to lean on. She knows that words are not always the answer to feeling better, but is the simple act of being there every step of the way that makes a difference.

Without my mom, I would not have the ability to talk about my health problems, nor would I have someone advocating for me in the wake of this storm. Yet, I have a mother who has protected me in every way she possibly can my entire life. My mom has taught me to shift my perspective towards my health problems and to always look to the future with hope.

I will never adequately convey my gratitude towards my mom in how she has shaped my understanding of what healthy can look like for me, but I can express my experience and my hope in my story because of her.

Without my mom, there would be no me, and without her hope, I would not have hope. To every mom with a sick child, the best one can give is hope. For every sick child knows what staring at hopelessness looks like, and we could not possibly see a better future without a loving parent or friend who advocates for us every step of the way.

As the bruises began to heal, I could feel my body regaining the strength Mom promised would come. Through the balance of physical therapy and rest, I could move forward with hope, because Mama instilled in me a sense of hope I carry with me into every tomorrow.

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Originally published: June 8, 2017
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