Greetings, Grievings, and Flower Tattoos

Dear Mom,

I wish you were here.

That’s how I started the letter to my mom when I put her on life support. All my life I would run to her when something was wrong. When I was a toddler, I’d fall down and start crying. She’d pick me up, stroke my hair, and tell me that it was okay. When I was a teen, I’d go to her for advice when things were overwhelming. She’d think about it for a minute, give me her honest opinion, and then told me that she would support me no matter what I chose. When I was eighteen, I had to put my mom on life support; and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t run to her.

You’ve been sick over half my life. I know the ropes of hospitalizations and surgeries, and I’ve always worked through it. But this one? I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, Ma.

This might make me sound like a terrible person, but I really debated on pulling the plug. For over fourteen years she has gone through agonizing illnesses, high-risk surgeries, and emotional warfare. At the end of the day, I saw that option as an act of selfless love.

I’ve slept in this wooden chair by your bedside for three nights now and I haven’t left. Yesterday the nurses made me go home.

I just didn’t want to miss anything. I knew that people in comas could still hear things and that it would help them heal. I tried talking to her, but my voice cracked and my throat stung every damn time.

These were the worst three months of my life. I was a dead woman walking– a memory of a person pacing the halls of the ICU. The short time I spent at home reminded me of how alone I was. The laughter that echoed through the house was now complete silence. The sun wasn’t so warm, the clocks ticked slower, and the nights grew darker.

I remember the day she woke up. At first it felt fake, almost like a dream. That letter remains tucked in an envelope, between the pages of a notebook, never read by anyone. Six months later, I got a tattoo to honor my mother and that time of my life. It was a hellish one, but also undoubtedly transformative. The Butterfly Rides my mom once gave me as a little girl, turned into me spreading my wings to fly on my own.

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