6/20/2012 12:35 PM
By Lorelei Hill
“Hi Mommy!” My nine-year-old daughter Kate’s soft, sweet voice cautiously filled the room. Her smiling face peeked around the entrance to my Toronto apartment.
My husband, Mike, and son, Riley, fell in behind. For a second I felt tension in the air. I had literally been living in Toronto since the last week of November, first in the hospital and later at the apartment. So much had transpired in short six months! I was a different person back then and out of necessity my tight little family had become tighter without me. They’d developed new routines and habits, none of which I play a part in. How could they not be nervous about Mom coming home?
My world had been filled with hospital visits, pills, and lots of slow, quiet walks! Even though Mike and I lived a world apart the year before we were married, my role as his wife and mother to our children had changed dramatically. Along with his own, the household management duties now fell to Mike. I ached to go home and yet, I too was nervous about the transition.
By early afternoon the jeep was packed. Our two poor kids wedged into their seats between piled high bedding. Considering themselves lucky to see the in-car video and out their windows, they sat quietly watching the 75 minute movie over and over again!
By 5:50 p.m., we were pulling into our driveway and it was time to unpack. Tending to push myself beyond my limits and into pain, Mike and the kids set about doing this job for me. My aching chest and shaky body acted as a reminder that the four-hour car ride was enough exertion for one day. I had no other choice but to comply. Once inside the house, I found the couch and asked Kate if she would stop unpacking long enough to get me a glass of water.
Feeling lazy, I sipped my drink and stroked my cat all the while delegating jobs to the kids. Mike, seeing that I was not about to tackle anything, headed back out to fetch our dog Harry from friends. Smudge, somehow understanding I was home for good, purred and relaxed into a small ball on my lap. Except for Harry running in and briefly scaring her away, she remained in this position for the duration of the evening and quickly assumed the same position once breakfast was over the next morning!
Like Smudge and Harry, Kate and Riley seemed a little nervous about leaving Mom alone.
“I don’t want to finish breakfast yet, I think I’ll need to stay home today,” Kate told me. Riley’s eyes flashed with excitement. Apparently he too had hopes of forfeiting school to spend the day with me. After all these months of being away, how do I explain to my angels that Mommy still needs her time alone?
Leading each of them to the front door, I kissed their foreheads and told them I loved them and would miss them all day long. Waving, I blew kisses from the doorway, as I watched each member of my family pile reluctantly into the car.
By afternoon, I was ready for their homecoming. As I watched for them from my front window, I realized that while some things have changed over these past six months, many others have remained very much the same. My old couch feels just as comfortable. My bed feels like my bed. As he has time and time again, with a smile and a squeeze of my hand Mike still gives me his strength. Katie and Riley actually want to spend time with me! And apparently, so too do my animals.
It’s wonderful to be over the hump. The pain and healing still remain, and because of this my homecoming has been a quiet one. But I’m finally home! That’s all that really matters.
Hello from Ontario, Canada! Lorelei Hill is a mother of two CHD babies, wife, writer/teacher, and a survivor of tricuspid atresia. After graduating with honors from Queen’s University in Kingston, Lorelei went on to teach and travel the world. Now settled into small town life, she is working with other CHD patients and her own cardiac specialists to complete a self-help book for young CHD families, entitled From the Heart. Click here to visit her website.