Was it the fish we had just eaten for lunch? Was it just a stomach virus? As my Mama was vomiting in the bathroom, I called Nordsee, the fish restaurant where we had previously bought our lunch. The manager promised me that the quality of their food was good. But why was she lying on the floor then? Why was she not responding to my questions? My Mama never goes to the doctor, never has to, and is usually the one visiting others. This time however, she looked as if she really needed help. I called the ambulance.
At the hospital, a couple of different doctors looked at my mother. Her mind was in and out of consciousness, and her clothes were drenched in sweat, urine, and vomit. While three different doctors were consulting each other in the corner and while the nurse was giving my mother the next dose of pain-killers, I carefully took her clothes off. Every single muscle in her body was shaken by waves of pain. I took her hand and then put the shirt and pants that I had brought with me, on her. I took the plastic bag out of the trashcan container, and put the dirty clothes into the bag. Then I sprinted down the white hospital hallways. I looked in the rooms, yelled for help. Nothing but Friday-afternoon-of-rural-medical-services-silence responded.
The angel stood in the lobby that I eventually reached. He was ready to leave for the weekend. I was completely out of breath and shaken by fear. This surgeon looked at my Mama, and without another word, pushed her into the OR. There, he induced a coma to stabilize her, cut her belly open, and saved her life. I did not have any cell phone service right there outside of the OR, so I had to leave my place next to the coke machine in order to make all the necessary phone calls in the parking lot. I do not remember the words I said, nor do I remember the hands on the clock move. I just do not remember.
When the surgeon came out of the OR, it was suddenly pitch black dark outside and around me, and it was summertime. I vaguely remember the surgeon holding an image of my Mama’s intestines into my face. All I saw in the picture was red worms and blood. That was my Mama on the inside.
After another surgery the next day, a few days in the ICU, and a few more long moments in the hospital, she came home again. She came home as a different person. She had been touched by Death. I was in the room with her and had seen Death knocking on her fragile worldly frame. The two scars on her belly are the marks that Death left on her, but he did not take her. It was not her time.
Truly, my mother is my goddess. The summer after I graduated from Rabun Gap Nacoochee School, Death dethroned her—made her vulnerable, fragile, real. I never cried over my mother’s illness, over the fear that paralyzed me that night. But every time she calls me Schneggele, every time she hugs me, I know that she will always be with me. Because mothers never leave, whether we want them or not. They are angles without wings, as my father said to his wife on my mother’s 50th birthday. I think my mom actually has two little wings now. Each is attached to one of her scars.