Dear Little One,
You may have noticed that I take an inordinate number of pictures and videos of you. I recently had to buy more memory for my phone just so I could keep everything on there, in addition to having it all saved in Google Photos. If I could, I’d have it backed up in a third or fourth place as well. I wanted to explain the reasons for that.
First off, as a warning, this post is a bit less lighthearted than my past posts. Trigger warning for serious injury/near-death, etc. as well as hospitals (both regular and psych).
When I was about 7 months old, my mother was driving around town doing some errands. At one point, she needed to take a left at a place where there wasn’t a light. There was, on the other hand, a blind hill where you couldn’t see if anyone was coming until they were basically on top of you.
You can probably already see where this is going.
So she goes to take a left just as a bus comes flying over the hill and slams right into her. This was back in 1987/1988, so airbags were not nearly as good as they are today. Luckily, I was tucked away in a car seat in the back, so I was (basically) fine. She was not. She was hit so hard that, even though she was wearing a seatbelt, she was thrown into the rear passenger seat.
She ended up in a coma for about two weeks. The reason it was for two weeks was because the hospital’s one brain surgeon was on vacation in the Caribbean/Bahamas area and they didn’t feel the need to either, A. get a different surgeon to come in, B. send her to a hospital with more than one person who did that sort of thing, or C. Idk… do literally anything?
(I realize I’m probably going to get some heat from doctors/nurses, etc. because I obviously don’t know anything about how hospitals work, but to be fair, I was a baby and also I explain why this was such a problem below. My mom was always pissed that they didn’t call the guy back from vacation early, but I know that’s also pretty unrealistic/difficult. I’m not faulting him for taking a vacation, I know doctor burnout and suicide is crazy high, it was just shitty timing.)
While she was in a coma, her brain continued to swell and bleed and more and more damage was being done.
When she woke up, she discovered two things. One, apparently the only place they had to stick recovering patients was in the middle of the psych wing, so she literally woke with screaming mentally ill people all around her – after having had mysterious brain surgery and no idea how she got there or what was happening. It was bordering a little too close to the opening of a horror movie. Two, she found that large chunks of her memories were just… gone. They wanted her to stay to do more intensive physical therapy, but she knew that she needed to get home to her daughters.
She managed to do just that and found that my dad had foisted us kids off on his sister and her husband (more on that later) rather than try to take care of us himself. I’m still not sure which would have been worse, but the idea of us being cared for by any of those fuckers was not okay with her. (Someday, I’ll probably write all about my dad’s family, but today is not that day.)
My mom did remember us, but she found that she couldn’t remember past events very well, if at all. She had taken pictures of birthdays and trips to the zoo, but that was all she had. On top of all that, her dad eventually developed Alzheimer’s, which is an entirely different, yet terrifyingly similar memory-stealing shitstorm. She had always taken lots of pictures of us, but she suddenly realized just how important they were. She took pictures all the time, even of things we didn’t think were important. But they were moments that she wanted to remember… and what if she couldn’t?
So what if?
What if something happened to me and I couldn’t remember? I already find myself constantly going through old pictures and videos to remember exactly how small you were or what you sounded like. I can’t imagine all my memories being wiped out like that. I know you’re too young to be forming concrete memories yet, but I would be absolutely devastated.
I know how tired I’ve been over the past (almost) two years. I know how many close calls I’ve had while driving, exhausted, just desperately trying to hold onto consciousness long enough to get you to daycare and get me to work. What if I wasn’t so lucky? What if my eyes closed at just the wrong time? What if?
I have to take pictures and videos of you as often as I can. I just have to. Because they might be all I get.