I have a daughter, however, she is not my maternal daughter and it tugs at my heart that she is not “mine” maternally. She is my step daughter. I hate, hate that word. She is mine –
Almost 30 years ago, I worked for a software company. I worked closely with Jan. Five years into us working next to each other, she got pregnant. I loved the changes in her. She was happy, she was beaming. I loved sharing her experiences of being pregnant with her because I had not had children yet. The day she gave birth, I rushed to the hospital. It was an emergency delivery and Jan had heart issues. They delivered Lauren successfully. Jan seemed fine. I held her daughter, Lauren. I felt so much love for my friend and for her beautiful baby girl. Day turned into night as I stayed in her room holding Lauren off and on with her. Her husband stayed in the shadows with their 5 year old son. I was estatic to be there; to share this love between Mother and child. Holding Lauren was one of those amazing memories one never forgets.
Jan was released from the hospital after a 4 day stay. The very next night on the eve of Thanksgiving day, Jan went into cardiac arrest in bed next to her husband and baby girl who was sleeping between them. I got a call that night from her husband, Mike. Jan was on life support.
The ambulance was called. Mike had administered CPR. The first responders used the paddles and finally awakened her heart. But, not before 20 minutes of a lack of oxygen had affected her brain. My friend had slipped into and deep coma. Almost no brain waves. The neurologist said there was no hope. We all gathered in the waiting room in a deep disbelief. I wanted to just hold my friend. I wanted to talk to her and hear her words. But, she couldn’t speak. Her eyes closed, her hands clenched into dainty fists. The beeping of the machines attached to her, the tubes coming in and out of her, the lights from the machines keeping her alive sounded so threatening to me as I held her hand. I was this empty person sitting next to her.
Night after night for eight months, I visited her every night after work, holding her hand and keeping a daily diary so she wouldn’t miss a thing. I didn’t want her to miss anything. I would tell her about my day, about her precious babies.. Being with her was my soothing balm in such sadness and chaos. I hated, hated all of those tubes and machines hooked to her. I’d brush her beautiful blonde hair and braid it. I’d rub her arms hoping she could feel me. I’d break down when I got home after seeing her.., every single night. I would sit in the bathtub and cry my eyes out so that no one could hear me or see me. I’d have given everything and anything to make all of this go away for her.
So many songs became “her songs”. I was lost. Confused. Obsessed with going to that hospital room every single night. Holding her hand. Seeing her husband showing up night after night with her newborn daughter and son. Writing for her in my diary. I would give this to her when she got better. But, she never got better..
The Doctors finally told us that she wouldn’t ever be “better”. She had lost too much oxygen to her brain. She wouldn’t walk again. She wouldn’t be able to communicate with us.
My entire existence was lost. I felt like a bomb crashed down in a complicated mess. I missed her so much that my heart felt so heavy and weak at the same time.
I never stopped visiting her. I kept the diary. I cried and cried more.
As time moved on in small increments, I felt compelled to care for her children. The love I had for them was unmeasurable. I had to do this for her. There was no question.
Lauren became “mine”. I loved her with this unmatched love. I wasn’t prepared to be a Mom, but, I’d do whatever I needed to do to be her Mom and to take care of her and her brother. I made Jan a silent promise that I’d be there for them.
Lauren is now my pride and joy. I raised her. I was her friend and her confidant because I made a promise to Jan. Lauren is my blessing. She has taught me about patience and love. What an enormous blessing I have been given.
Lauren is now almost 29. Wow. Amazing. I’m so, so blessed. Truly. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Jan is still with us. She is in a care home and Lauren is in contact with her and she includes me in her interactions with her. She remembers me. I can only hope she sees my love for her daughter in every word, in every action, and that she remembers us and our friendship.
Love recalls and forgives.
I miss and love you, Jan..😘