During Tommy’s hospitalization there were so many people who came to see him. And while I was often in the good company of others, the times when I wasn’t were excruciating. I still remember the tribulation of staying that first night in the hospital alone. My mom had offered to stay overnight with me and take the next day off of work so I wouldn’t be there by myself. She had just started her new job though and I felt guilty accepting her proposal so I relented and told her I would be fine. After insisting (borderline demanding) over and over to stay with me, I was finally able to convince my mom I’d be okay on my own. Still, she brought me blankets and food she knew I wouldn’t eat and sat with me in the lobby until close to midnight. The doctors didn’t let me sleep in Tommy’s room the first couple of nights because he was on 24 hour care so after visiting hours I was summoned to the lobby. As it got really late I pretended to fall asleep on a recliner so as to not keep my mom any longer. Before she left for the night she asked the nurses to bring me extra pillows and told me to call her if I needed anything. When she was finally gone, my heart sank into a deeper hole than the one it was in as I felt the loneliness and panic immediately creep in.
Hospital lobbies are an especially daunting place at 7 A.M. The silence echoed through out the hallways and the inertia invoked my despair to torment me. After what seemed like an eternity of being there alone, I picked up the phone at 9 AM the next morning to call my mom. I knew she was working and wasn’t expecting her to pick up. When she did I immediately started sobbing. “Amy, what’s going on?” she asked right away. The concern was obvious in her tone. “Mom…” I said in between sobs. “I can’t be here alone. It’s too hard”. Without even a breath in between her next words she replied, “I’m coming right now” and hung up.
When she got to the hospital we sat together in the lobby for hours without much conversation. Even in the silence her presence brought me so much comfort. As I had shared in a previous post, I kept a journal that I wrote letters to Tommy in during his coma. Anytime someone came to visit him, I asked them to contribute in it. That morning I asked if my mom wanted to write in it. “Sure”, she said. She took the journal and sat down in a chair across from me. She looked at the wall and pondered for a few moments about what she wanted to write. “I want to write something, but I don’t know how to write in English” she lamented. “Then write in Hmong,” I replied. “But he won’t be able to read it then”, she grieved with disappointment in her voice. “It’s okay, Mom,” I assured. “Just write what you want to say to him.” So she did. When Tommy woke up and learned about the letters, he asked me to read every single one to him. When we got to my mom’s letter it was especially emotional for the both of us. Today we keep that journal next to our bed where its remedial contents fill our home with love and intent. Because my moms letter was particularly special, we had it blown up and found the perfect spot for it in our bedroom where we read it every day and feel her unfailing love.
The direct translation reads:
“Tommy today I am here with Amy because you are sleeping and can’t hear us. I’m so worried and sad that I can’t work. You’ve been asleep for 2 days now. We are all very worried about you but I’ve prayed to God every day that he’ll give you two another chance. When you wake up I want you to promise me that you will love Amy and will stay by her side until the end. Tommy I love you like you are my own son, but I’ve never actually told you. I pray that God will heal you so that we can become a family.
Lov you, Mom”