Dear Mom,

It's amazing how as life passes by, the roles of parent and child reverse. You have always been my caretaker and protector. Now it's my turn.

My nervousness leading up to your heart surgery was intense, yet you remained calm, at least on the outside. You have always internalized your uneasiness for the sake of your children.

As we drove to Deborah Heart & Lung Center at 4:30 in the morning, you broke the silence by talking about the cranberry bogs we passed. I responded with one-word answers like "interesting" or "really."

I wasn't intentionally being rude. I was paralyzed with fear that this was the last trip I'd take with you. Were these the last couple of hours that we would spend together?

For the entire 40-minute car ride, I wanted to say a few things. The 40 minutes felt more like 40 seconds and I never ended up saying what I wanted to say. So, here it goes.

You are the glue that holds our family together. Through my struggles and the loss of Dad, you stood strong and made sure I did as well. Never once in my 36 years have you not been there for me, and never once have I ever wondered if you would be.

As I've gotten older, I've come to see you more of a person. And while I've always known that you're an amazing mother, you're an even better person.

Thoughtful, generous, kind, understanding, independent, resilient, you are truly one of a kind. Dad always told me that you were the best thing that ever happened to him. People are better when you are in their lives.

Mom, you're the best person I know. Not because you're my mother, but because you are you.

When I got word from the doctor that your surgery was a success I was taken back to the ICU. The nurse said that you would still be under antiscia and asked me if I was prepared to see you. Truthfully, I wasn't. My Mom, the superwoman, was on a respirator with tubes everywhere and machines beeping incessantly.

It was at that moment that I knew I should've said all of this to you before you went into the OR.

I visited you 24 hours later. While the tubes were gone, you told me you were in great pain. I've never seen you in pain. Up until today, I thought you were immune to pain. What's worse, there was nothing I could do. I was completely helpless.

It was exactly then that I recalled you telling me that there is nothing worse for a parent than seeing their child in pain and being unable to take it away. Unable to fix them. I understand now.

That's why I took your hand and said: "now it's time for me to tell you everything is going to be ok."  You cracked a smile and shed a tear. The last thing you said to me before my 15 minutes of visiting time was up was "don't worry about me." I guess a Mom's concern for her child doesn't take a break, even after major surgery. I promise to try not to worry too much, but I also promise you that I will be by your side, just like you've always been by mine. You are loved by many, especially me.

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