Part 1: The Yellow Monster
My mother was hit by a car five days before my fifth birthday. I was young, but I remember a few things clearly.
I remember my dad telling me he did not know if she would be coming home. I remember tears running down the cheeks of one of my big brothers, and knew this meant I should be sad, too.
I remember being scared of the yellow monster I met the first time we went to visit her in the hospital; I did not believe that the iodine paint-covered, plaster-wrapped thing that could not say my name was my mom. I remember backing out of the room, crying, breaking her heart.
I remember jumping on my parents’ bed, in my favorite white turtleneck, dotted with tiny, multi-colored stars in perfect diagonal rows, when my Aunt came in to give me the birthday presents my mom had left for me. I remember not understanding why she wasn’t there herself.
I remember our priest hoisting me up into her bed; he handed me the remote, and I felt powerful. I was distracted enough by this new-found control — something so rarely endowed upon a youngest child with two older brothers — that I thought only briefly about the bed pan, and how funny a place to live this hospital was.
I remember not understanding why she had to use a wheelchair, but bypassing this confusion in favor of fascination over the indoor playground full of colorful balls and bands that was inpatient physical therapy. I remember the man with no legs, who saw me stare, smiled at me, and told me that he, too, would be learning to walk again.
I remember when she came home after more than a month away, the hospital bed setup in our living room, the wheelchair that my brothers and I dubbed our personal entertainment system. I remember pulling her socks off for her in the evenings, and putting our mother to bed each night.
What I remember most — when my mom could not run alongside me or get down on the floor to play with me in the years that followed because, she said, all the metal in her bones made those things hard for her — was being angry that the doctors didn’t do a good enough job putting my mama back together.