As those words hung on the white board in my AP Lang Class, conversation began to buzz with the talk of licenses, jobs, and new-found responsibilities—even parental and sibling actions emerged with laughter and a scheming sense of lucidness from the respected teller.
My mind went into introvert hyper-mode as I slid down into my seat; not wanting to disturb the delightful classroom atmosphere, but recalling the pungent memory of February 7th, 2009. While my mind began vividly recalling that day in a gray scale lens, I raised my hand.
“About two weeks after my thirteenth birthday, my mother was hit by a car in our neighborhood”, my voice trembled.
The class went silent for a few seconds as a slight look of shock and sympathy crept over my teachers face.
I didn’t even bother mentioning how I remember sitting by her side in the ER for seven hours; frozen in panic and shock—imagining the worst possible outcome of losing my mother to a relatively simple accident. Or how earlier that day, she told me to change into actual clothes even if my plans for that day revolved around playing Sims 3 and how I was never so thankful I had a pair of jeans on as I sprinted a couple hundred feet from my house to the site of the accident. If I imagine hard enough, I can almost even feel the two apple cinnamon breakfast bars swallowed in chunks sliding down my dry throat—I wasn’t even hungry, just responding to my worried family after denying their request to leave my mom alone for a bit to grab dinner.
The entire time my Mom laid down in a neck brace, my entire body was too stunned to leave her room or her side.
Her only accident side effect?
She had to buy shoes with a lower heel for my bat mitzvah two weeks later along with some minor bed rest and slight concussion.
Something similar happened a little over a month ago.
Two days before prom, my Mom received a phone call from one of my aunts updating her on my grandmothers condition—possibly near death. My grandmother thought she wouldn’t live to see the following Monday. As tears welled in my mother’s eyes, I held her grasping embrace for as long as tears streamed down her face.
Such a feeling prompted no personal emotions beyond the depressing mood in my house prompting muscle memory to make cookies.
When she hastily left for a flight hours after receiving the news, she told me to not worry and have fun at prom—something I opted to attend to please her. While everyone else at my school had their mom with them that day for pictures and the whole process of getting ready, we Face-Timed briefly off my father’s Ipad during pictures with my prom date and his parents.
By the end of prom night, both my date and I realized we participated in this high school ritual at a level that fulfilled our purpose for going—to please our parents, and for me in particular, give them something to be excited about.
That grandmother gradually recovered from her health scare and it was almost as if my mother stepped off the plane thanking me for being a rock. I couldn’t help but to insist how while most people have a fight or flight reaction to events, the shock that overcomes my body makes me nurture and protect.
To me, the end of childhood meant realizing how my parents are human—they aren’t indestructible and they too, can feel pain and fear and everything plaguing all of our nightmares that makes us fear future realities.