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Five Hours and I’m There

My mother is a patient woman. I’m sure she’ll be surprised to read that about herself, as will others. But I’m convinced it must take a lot of patience to wait on me as long as she has. She used to wait for me to get up in the morning. She tried everything to get me out of bed. Making muffins, singing, picking out cute outfits. None of it helped. I would stay in bed as long as possible without any desire to join the waking world. She would beg and plead with me to get up and get dressed, growing more frustrated each day it happened. Many days, I would make her late for work. But she always waited for me.

I know you must be thinking, “Well, what was her other option? Leave you at home, a sleepy 7-year-old?” I suppose at that age, she didn’t have many choices other than to wait. But even now that I’m 25, she waits on me. She waits patiently for me to need her. And when I need her, she waits patiently for me to get better. And then the cycle repeats.

My mother lives five hours north of me. Four and a half with her lead foot, but we round up to five. The last trip she made to see me was in February. I had called her from work, not quite crying but definitely not well. Something had come over me. I was sad. Much too sad. So sad I couldn’t see past the moment I was in or the problems in front of me. Quite simply, I felt bad and I wanted to hurt myself. She asked what she always asks in these kinds of situations—when I’m sick or unwell in any way.

“Do I need to come down there?”

I hesitated because I wasn’t sure if this was a real emergency or if I was just being dramatic.

“Five hours and I’m there.”

It was then that I knew I needed her. You know how sometimes you just need your mom? And you don’t know exactly what her being there will accomplish or what difference she’ll make in the situation, but you just know you need her. So I told her to come. And in record time, she was here.

When she arrived at my house, we decided it was best to go to the hospital. She waited on me to prepare. I packed a small bag and put on my sweatpants without strings. I kissed my boyfriend and my dog goodbye and left with my mother.

The emergency room was a bust. We went thinking they would 1013 me for thoughts of wanting to hurt myself. They did not. But they did give us the name of a place where I could volunteer myself for commitment. A place the nurse called “the Lamborghini of mental hospitals.”

So the next day, I climbed in the car with my mother and off she drove, another hour and a half down the road. The hospital was on an island in south Georgia. I remember crossing bridge after bridge over the saltwater marshes. The sun was setting. Rays of light glistened on the water. My mother commented on the beauty, reminding me that my great grandmother would always call these the Marshes of Glynn after the poem by Sidney Lanier. For some reason, I found that comforting, almost as though my Nana was there in the car with us. But by the time we reached the facility, it was just my mother and me again.

We were early. We waited. Finally, I went inside. She stayed in the car. Covid protocol. We waited some more. I apologized for how long it was taking when she texted to check on me. She simply said it wasn’t my fault and that she would wait as long as it took. It had to have been midnight by the time I was evaluated. She stayed the whole time.

Long story short, I was admitted. I committed to a minimum 72-hour hold. Beyond that, I had no idea how long I would be there. My mother got a room at a hotel about half a mile down the road. For five days, she put her life on hold to be near me. She couldn’t even visit me. She just had to wait for me to call.

I tried to call her after every meal. Whether I needed something or just wanted her to hear that I was okay. She brought me everything I needed from books to extra underwear. She made it easier to recover from whatever had overcome me.

On the fifth day, I was set to be released. My mother was there right on time. Once I walked through the big double doors to the lobby, I thought I’d never seen anything as sweet as the sight of her face in that moment. The first familiar face I’d seen in days and the last one I’d seen before going in.

She already knew what I wanted to do first. I’d tasked her with finding a good local coffee shop. Psychiatric facilities are notorious for only serving decaf so I was in need of an iced latte.

Coffee in hand, we crossed back over the Marshes of Glynn. She asked me how I felt. I told her I was fine, just ready to get back to real life. She asked me how long I thought I would need her to stay. I told her not long, that I knew she needed to get back to real life too. She said she need to take care of me first and that she would stay as long as I needed. I considered this for a moment and realized how lucky I am to have a mother at all, let alone one who would wait on me to heal and be there for the process. When we arrived at my house, she helped me get my stuff inside. I hugged her and thanked her for coming and sent her on her way.

And so my mother must be a patient woman. How else could she wait on me for so long? And I must be the luckiest daughter in the world.

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