When I was six, I almost died.
To find out what was wrong with me, I had to have a spinal tap. My mother was with me, in the little room.
It was late. The lights were dim. We sat together on the bed. Her, behind me.
“Breathe in slow, and out slow,” my mother said to me. “It’s what I did when I had my babies.”
Our hands interlocked. Mine small, still with a little chub. Her long piano-playing hands gripped mine. “Squeeze my hands,” she said.
I breathed in my mother’s calmness and breathed out my pain. Slow.
The long needle entered my back.
I stared at my mother’s red nails and gold wedding band.
“Breathe slow,” my mother reminded me.
Her wedding band sparkled. Her red nails shined.
That’s all I remember.
I ended up being diagnosed with a deathly bacterial infection that went to my heart. And born with a heart defect, things weren’t looking good.
A week later, I was in the ICU. It was a big room. It felt like my bed was my own island and the rest of the room was the ocean. Windows surrounded three of the walls. The nurses’ station was right outside. But I could never leave my island.
One night, the machine next to my bed started beeping wildly. As I rested, I remember the fluorescent lights burning my eyes. It felt like the beeps kept getting louder and louder.
My mother flew over the ocean with blankets. Piling them over me—throwing herself on top of me, too. Though my mother was not calm this time, I breathed her in. She was all I needed.
Again, I felt no pain.
I’m sure the nurses and doctors flooded my room that evening, but I have zero recollection of them. I remember no extra needles entering my body, no doctors instructing my mother on my current state. I only remember my mother and how she saved me.
Mothers have a way of easing the pain of their children until it vanishes from our memory. They do this simply with their love.
Because mothers, they’re magic.