This special blog post is in honor of Mother’s day and I would like to devote it to my mother, my hero.
It was by the poolside at the Phoenecian Hotel that my first acquaintance with Princess Leia happened. I was about six years old and had yet to be introduced to the franchise which would change my life. Carrie Fischer was sunbathing by the pool and my mother came up to me in the kittie pool saying “Carrie Fischer is over there!” My father seemed impressed, but I had no idea what an impact the woman sitting feet away from me would play in my life or what influence she would have over my mother.
After this, of course, my parents amended their catastrophic mistake and I was introduced to Star Wars. I became totally obsessed with it. I mean, of course I was in love with Princess Leia but not the way most little girls are. I could not own enough Star Wars merchandise, though there was precious little of it to be found at the time. I spent weekends light saber battling anyone who would challenge. I was one of only two kids in my elementary school who were obsessed with Star Wars. The franchise was still old, this was before the revamping of it through episodes I, II and III. Because of this, I was outcast and constantly bullied for my love of Star Wars, but my adoration of Princess Leia remained steadfast and carried me through.
Fast forward about ten years…
December 12th was like any other Sunday during Christmas time. I spent some time at my father’s house decorating the Christmas tree with my brother. It was at this point that my aunt called because she had received a call from my mother’s neighbor that her garage door was open. My mother lives with her cat Jebidiah and runs every morning at a local track. She is a first grade teacher and spends most of her time grading or doing lesson plans when not at work. Anyway, it was unusual for my mother to leave her garage door open so I drove back across town to pull it down and make sure it was working properly. Mom still had not returned home and I checked her calendar, but she had nothing written down. I called my aunt back and let her know the garage door was down. My aunt is somewhat hysterical and immediately started dreaming up the worst scenarios. I reassured her that I would check back at 9:00pm and if mom was not back we would start calling the necessary people. While 8:00pm is not late for most anyone it was late for my mother to be out, but I had no reason to worry that anything was wrong…yet…
My partner and I had just finished eating dinner when 9:00pm came around. My sneakers were hovering over the threshold to our apartment when my phone rang. It was a hidden number which is highly suspicious since the invention of caller ID, but as I had not heard from my mother I had begun to worry so I answered anyway.
“Hello, this is Police Chief ‘so and so’ I have your mother,” is the last phrase any daughter wants to hear. I stopped dead. We were out the door and down the street in a heartbeat.
A two month hospital stay ensued. It was a roller coaster of the fiercest emotions that I have ever experienced. As an adult, you face the harsh reality of your parents mortality. My mother was the healthiest person I knew and, not just me, she was the healthiest person everyone knew. She was the last person any of us expected to end up incapacitated in the ICU for a month. To watch the strongest woman you know suffer one of the most painful transformations anyone can changes you. It affects you in a way nothing else can affect you, but life imitates art just as art imitates life.
It was on one such day in the ICU at mother’s bedside where we heard the tragic news. I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom had just begun to form speech and was cleared for solid foods only hours before. We were watching her favorite channel, Fox News, the only thing from her old life she had been able to bring into her dismal white room. And then it happened. The little white words flashed at the bottom of the screen announcing the death of Carrie Fischer.
I cried out so loudly that nurses ran to the room. Like Anakin crying out into the volcanic air of Mustafar I cried for the first time since my mother had entered the hospital. Her stay, so intertwined with my female idol that the two were inseparable. I stared at the screen unbelieving as tears streamed down my face. I had been following this story since it broke that Carrie had been taken to the ICU. In some catastrophic twist of fate my predicament paralleled Carrie Fischer’s, from Christus St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe to Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles the two women I idolized most fought for their lives. If Carrie Fisher survived so would my mother I thought.
T’was not to be for the actress I idolized above all others, but my mother looked death in the face twice and recovered from a sickness few live to tell about. It truly was a Christmas miracle, but even as we celebrate her health or cry over our shared experience there is a sadness that inevitably surfaces for Carrie Fischer and her dear mother who would sooner die than live another day without her daughter. So, on this day for children to celebrate the mothers in their lives I beg each and every one of you to hold your mother close. Give her a big hug for me because you never know how long you have them.