One Shot Too Many, (2011)

This piece was originally written in 2011

With only 17 years between our ages, my mother has always been my best friend, whether I like it or not. Focused on her nurturing craft as a nurse and dedicated to her nurturing nature as a mother, she has always been the ideal, beautiful woman worth envying. Her seemingly flawless life was scarred on August 20, 2005 when she was shot. That life changing bullet went in through her arm and exited out of her back, striking her spinal column in the process. She was the last person anyone expected to be caught in a shooting and she was the absolute last person to get help; she remained bleeding her life away on a sidewalk, as everyone watched in shock. In her words, blood leaving her body felt like her entire soul draining out of her. The burning sensation of the bullet made her want to exhale and give up on the concrete. Then she thought about me. She thought about how without her, I have no one, and that was enough for her to hold on and hold out until paramedics finally showed. People say that my mother was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I believe that I said the wrong words at the wrong moment…

I blame myself entirely for the danger my mother was in that night. I was a selfish teenager who wanted the house to myself and this woman completely out of the door. I helped her shop, I found her shoes, I persuaded my mother to go to the club for once, despite going with a crowd she was not familiar with, and to just get out of my hair. Her reluctance was overpowered by my urgency. I disregarded her fear and boosted her confidence with my persistence.

I’ve never regretted anything in life. Until then.

Waking up on the “wrong side of the bed” is incomparable to waking up to the news that your mother is dead. Then finding out later she’s alive, yet so close to death, that all you want to do is die, is horrific. Internal bleeding. Partial paralyzation. Physical therapy. Within 24 hours, my mother’s life became overwhelmingly different. I went from feeling like her Siamese twin to feeling like a complete stranger: I had no idea who this almost lifeless woman was laying on a hospital bed. I spent the entire beginning of my freshman year of high school reconnecting with my mother in ways we could never imagine. I became her rock and our roles naturally switched. I felt obligated to help with her physical recovery while she nourished my emotions and helped me emotionally recover from unnecessary guilt.

Since then, my mother has fully recovered. However, anytime her back is exposed, and I see her scar from her bullet wound, I cringe. I just want to go back in time and hold her. Tell her that I love her and that I would rather have spent time with her that night. Unfortunately, the hands on a clock move forward, not backward.

That night has caused me to appreciate my mother more than I ever have in my life. Whether she is leaving for the grocery store or going on a mini-vacation, I give her a big hug, a kiss on the cheek, and tell her that I love her more than anything.

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