Brain Surgery and My Mom

I sense the dread, I know it’s down there, but it feels hazy and indistinct.

It’s close to midnight. There are about 10 hours left until my mom’s surgery to remove the tumor on the right side of her brain, and we’re about four days into this entire ordeal. This entire process is moving at a dizzying pace. The risks of operating on the brain are plenty—paralysis, seizures, strokes, and death. Mom’s had dozens of visitors since she was transferred from Vegas to Little Company of Mary here in Torrance. There’s an unspoken understanding that these “get wells” and “good lucks” could double as “goodbyes.”

Yet, my mom’s been her funny self, even in that hospital bed, cracking jokes. One joke that she loves telling unsuspecting nurses and friends is that if she dies during surgery, we should donate all of her organs, except (and she points downward) “my coochie-coochie.” You’ll either laugh or stand there with your mouth agape.

It’s fitting we’re at a Christian-affiliated hospital. Mom has been deeply into Christianity for over the last two decades. I’m not religious, but I am happy that her beliefs are providing her some type of emotional comfort right now. It’s a comfort I don’t know how to provide because I can’t say with any assurance that everything will be okay. My uneasiness is obvious.

I was at the hospital most of today, my body is ready to slump over onto the nearest horizontal surface. Jimmy, my brother, is going to land from San Francisco any moment now, and I need to be up early to spend as much time at the hospital as I can.

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