by Kasey Mathews, author, blogger, and mother of son Tucker and daughter Andie who weighed just 1 lb, 11 ounces at birth
On Friday morning I sat down on my yoga mat and the tears instantly began to flow. They journeyed from my eyes, down my cheeks, to the edge of my jaw line, dropping in little puddles on my mat.
Looking at the tiny pools, I wondered what the heck I was crying about.
And then, in the next moment, I knew.
I knew why on Monday, I’d screamed at the man who pulled out in front of me as the traffic light turned green.
I knew why on Tuesday, I’d snapped at my son when he’d forgotten his homework at school.
I knew why we’d eaten takeout three nights in a row and why I’d had to drag myself out of bed each morning. I knew why my lower back throbbed and why I hadn’t walked all week.
in I knew why I’d forgotten my dentist appointment on Wednesday and why after a lunch of coffee and cookies on Thursday, I still hadn’t mustered up the energy to return phone calls and emails.
As the tear puddles grew and my teacher began class, I remained still, sitting crossed-legged on my mat, absorbing the realization that all week I’d been stuck back in time, nearly nine years ago when my daughter had contracted RSV.
Months ago when Kelli from Hand to Hold asked me to contribute to a video they were making about RSV, I’d happily agreed. The deadline had been months away, and I’d given little thought to the reality of sitting down in front of a camera and telling the story of my daughter’s battle with that dreaded virus.
I hadn’t thought about looking into a video camera and saying aloud, “She was two, and we thought we were safe. That we’d weathered every possible storm, and she was healthy and funny and so utterly adorable, and I’d finally let the last piece of concrete protecting my heart fall away and love her with all of my being.”
I hadn’t thought about controlling my anger over the insurance company’s refusal to provide Synagis shots because she was “no longer at risk.” I hadn’t thought about remembering the ride in the ambulance or the feel of her yellow sweater with the fake fur collar resting on my shoulder. Or the young ER doctor who’d shrugged his shoulders and said that her x-rays had him “freaked.” Or how when he’d pointed at my girl hidden behind that oxygen mask and said it would be up to her whether she chose to fight the RSV or not, I’d run from the room, standing outside the hospital calling everyone in my family, screaming into the phone, “We Might Lose Her.”
But wiping the tears from my cheeks, I also knew I’d remember the last phone call I’d made. I’d remember my yoga teacher’s certain voice saying, “Kasey, put down the phone. Go back to your daughter’s room. Put your hands on her chest and breathe for her.”
And how I’d look into the camera and say, “That was the moment our story changed.”
That I’d finally stopped running away and learned to breathe in the midst of crisis. That I’d learn to say out loud “I’m terrified,” and use my voice to protect my child, telling a nurse I didn’t care about hospital regulations and refusing to get out of my daughter’s hospital bed.
I knew as I uncrossed my legs and began to join in with the yoga class, it was time to tell that story.
As my hands brushed the puddles off my mat, I knew as soon as class ended, I’d return home, put the video camera on the tripod and speak that story out loud.