Seeing her walk for the first time was an amazing experience. The shaky legs. The feeling of pride while cheering her on. The look of accomplishment on her face; the fear of falling over in her eyes. It was all there that night. But just to clarify, I'm not talking about my daughter Meghan walking for the first time. For the record, that was one of the greatest moments of my life and I remember it like it was yesterday. But in this case, I'm talking about my mom. The feisty, middle finger-wielding matriarch of my family who suffered a stroke that took away all of the feeling on her right side, as well as her ability to speak.
And yet, on one extraordinary night just recently, after two separate hospital stays and nearly five months in a physical therapy center, my mother shuffled across the floor. When my brother and I stopped in theh rehabilitation center for our nightly visit after work, we were treated to these first footsteps since the stroke.
Sure, it was only a few steps, during which my mother clung to her walker. However, it was still an incredible moment that I will never forget. I consider myself extremely lucky for what I have. A very close-knit family that is always there for each other. And also for my 5-year-old daughter who adapts to nearly any situation with ease. Meghan was right by my side almost every weekend when it came to visiting my mom in the therapy center. That antiseptic smell, the nurses running back and forth, the wheelchairs and other equipment in the halls, all of the strangers around her... None of it seemed to phase Meghan. She was always smiling, making everyone laugh, drawing pictures, sharing an Italian ice with her grandma or rough-housing with her grandpa— both family members being the biggest kids I know. Meghan made the whole terrible situation a lot easier for all of us to deal with, probably without realizing how big a contribution she makes to all of us every day without even trying.