‘I can’t do it anymore, Mom,’ Thomas sobbed as he lay on the high hospital bed, clutching his mother’s hand.
‘You certainly can, baby. You certainly can.» Beth was completely out of tears after crying all night.
‘We’ll get through this together, you and I.’ She tightened her grip on her only son’s hand.She could see Thomas’ analgesics were wearing off.
When am I going to…play again?» He was willing to go through another bout of suffering only to know that there was hope.
‘I’d like to assure him that he’ll be alright in a week.’ I want to assure him that he will be able to compete in the big finals for which he has worked so hard. But how can I deceive him?’
His hope of winning this year’s interschool hockey tournament had been dashed overnight. The physicians had informed Beth that Thomas’ right leg had been severely shattered in many places as a result of the accident.
‘It will take at least a year for your son to walk again, and another year and a half before he can play hockey.’
Beth didn’t have the heart to tell her son, who was crying in agony in front of her.
She felt completely helpless as a team of physicians and nurses raced in to calm her screaming toddler and relieve his suffering.
I can’t play the game, Mom, can I? Isn’t it all over?’ Thomas whispered before falling back asleep.
Beth finally took a big breath and let herself cry again as her kid closed his eyes.’Thomas should not have been riding with his cousin Lenny on the motorcycle.’
When he asked for my consent, I should have answered no. ‘How could I have said yes?!’She tried to force herself to be quiet, but the same images kept flashing into her thoughts.
Thomas would be ecstatic one minute, relishing the wind in his hair and the vista of the city flying by the next.
And then he’d see the truck approaching from the wrong direction, honking as a warning. It was too late by then.
It was difficult for her to breathe again after recalling the moment when the bike landed on her son’s legs. She attempted to ignore it, but her breathing got increasingly heavy.
She was unable to think coherently. Before the dizziness took control, she remembered to go into her pocket and bring out the inhaler.
‘Beth, get your act together. You can’t be weak right now.’
Beth blocked off all other concerns from her mind and life in the months that followed Thomas’ discharge. She had only one goal in mind: to help Thomas recover.
A mother and child’s pure, unwavering love can move mountains.
She was aware that she hadn’t had a husband to count on for the previous six years, and she had gotten quite skilled at taking charge under duress.
Beth made a move that most single mothers would dread for the sake of her child: she quit her demanding stable day job.
She used all of her contacts to obtain freelance writing work that would allow her to work around Thomas’ physiotherapy appointments.
Beth awoke before daylight and completed all of the housekeeping before Thomas awoke. She methodically planned every minute of the day so that she and Thomas could have breakfast together and talk about things.
They’d lounge on the front porch for hours, reading or cuddling with Fifi, the local stray dog who came by every afternoon.
Beth was cautious enough to conceal the fact that her asthma attacks had worsened.
Thomas had been in the wheelchair for nine months and hadn’t missed a single therapy session. A part of him was becoming agitated and impatient.
But a larger part of him was beginning to view the tragic accident with greater compassion, and he had learnt to be grateful for the time he had with his mother.
On one such calm afternoon, the mother was reading on the porch, while Thomas was relaxing on the couch in the living room. Thomas heard a tremendous thump coming from the porch at that moment.
It’s just…my book slipped!» Beth made an attempt to soothe Thomas. But he could tell she was having trouble breathing.
The longer he listened, the more it sounded like his mother was constantly heaving, like if something was lodged in her throat.
Thomas’ wheelchair would normally be directly next to the couch, allowing him to quickly roll towards his mother.
Beth, on the other hand, had unintentionally pulled the wheelchair away from the couch earlier that afternoon, when Thomas was sleeping.
Beth attempted to get up and walk over to Thomas, but she lost her balance and slumped into the floor.
When Beth didn’t react when Thomas called her name, he realized it was an emergency. Fortunately, his mother had given him a phone, which he kept in his pocket at all times.
‘What is your emergency?’
‘My mother is suffering from a terrible asthma attack! She’s having trouble breathing… and I’m unable to get up off the floor!’
Fifi, who had been playing in the kitchen, raced out and began wagging his tail, worried about the woman who had been providing him with meat and drink whenever she could. He dashed over to Thomas, who was crying in fear.
Fifi, I’m terrified. I’m terrified. I know assistance is on its way, but I can’t just sit here and wait. I have to assist my mother!» Thomas tells the dog.
Despite the fact that his legs were unlikely to cooperate, Thomas gripped the couch’s seat as tightly as he could, placed his feet one by one on the ground, and pushed his arms down to hoist himself up.
The same anguish was resurfacing in his legs, and his hands were trembling from the pressure.’I have to do it.’ For my mother. Thomas, hurry up. ‘Do this for mom,’ he told himself.
Thomas did it as a drop of sweat trickled down his brow and was ready to fall to the floor. His feet were flat on the floor, and he could feel the warmth of power coming from them. Thomas stood up for the first time in nine months.
Beth stared, semi-conscious, as her small boy gripped the walls and put one foot in front of the other over and over.
When she saw Thomas pull her inhaler from the bag before slumping into the floor, she thought she was dreaming.
The eight-year-old crawled the final distance toward his mother, pushing through the anguish that had returned in full force, and pumped the inhaler into her mouth.
Beth was first strangled by the rapid surge of air, but she immediately readjusted, regained full consciousness, and felt strength return to her hands and legs.
‘You did it, Thomas! My baby, you did it!» She rested her son’s head in her lap, and the two of them remained on the floor, crying tears of delight at the miracle that had just occurred.’
‘Mom, I adore you. I’m relieved you’re okay!’
Beth was able to stand and smile at the paramedics by the time they came.
She couldn’t stop telling the paramedics how proud she was of her lovely little boy during the ambulance ride to the hospital with Thomas.