by Dr Margaret Aranda
There wasn't a good way to tell this story. And it could not be told in full, because she was too little when it happened. She was only three years old then, bouncing brown curly hair and matching big brown eyes that belonged to an actual doll. Just mesmerizing. Every single morning, her Mum blessed the Lord for the gift of a new day, but she did not quite undersand why she did that. People were, after all, supposed to wake up each day.
They were going to do some errands, Mom and daughter. As long as she had her toy for the car, she was fine with it all. Her Mum put her in the back seat of the Ford Expedition. All tucked in, yes indeed. Seat belt tight, pillow under the neck for when she took the inevitable nap.
It was a sunny California Tuesday afternoon, April 24, 2006 at 2:16 pm to be exact. Pepperdine University was on the right, and the cliffs of Malibu beach were just beyond the baseball diamond that was straight ahead. The sea gulls swerved away from imaginary pockets in the sky, and
All of a sudden. Whoosh! CRASH! Spin. Smack. Stopped.
Video 1. Eyewitness News TV Coverage, Drs. Margaret Aranda-Ferrante and David S. Cannom. Getting the diagnosis of dysautonomia took over 20 doctor visits, several months, a Near-Death Experience, and lots of pain and suffering. Millions of patients go through this annually, so I wrote the Invisible Illness Petition to increase physician education as a Preventive Medicine measure for all.
Cars driving past. Their car was facing the wrong side of the street, and traffic simply veered out of the way, passing them. No one stopped.
She didn't cry. She wasn't worried. She didn't realize what happened that day. She didn't know how messed up the future was going to be. She didn't have to know. She shouldn't have to know. None of it should have happened to such a beautiful girl. Mum used to look at her and Dad, the three of them together, and say, "This family is the best thing that I could ever have. It's the best present that I could ever give our daughter. We have such a beautiful family."
When her Mum opened the car door, she opened it too hard; it swung shut back onto Mum's arm. She screeched a bit, seeming really perturbed. She ignored it though, and asked the baby, "Are you okay?" The baby looked up at her Mum, wondering where her toy was, as it had fallen to the ground. "Yes, Mum. Can I have my toy now?" Yes, that was a three-year old for you. She was okay, and her Mum suffered all the pain and injuries so that her Mum wouldn't have to...just the same way as any Mum would have it. Thank God.
After that, Mum would leave the house sometimes for a few days, sometimes for a few weeks. The baby grew and came to know that the ambulance in the home driveway meant that Mum was being taken away again. Again. Something about her brain, something about well... her brain. She visited Mum in the hospital once, and Mum couldn't walk except with a walker but she didn't know why. All she knew is that Mum wasn''t allowed to pick her up anymore, and they couldn't play "Mummy Monster" with Mum chasing her all around the house any more. Mum was in bed, in pain alot. I mean A LOT.
Eventually, the toddler didn't want to go to the hospital to visit her Mum any more. It gave her bad dreams. She did, though, because it made her Mummy happy. She missed her Mum, and no one quite brushed her hair, brushed her teeth, nor read books to her like Mum had done before. No one tucked her into bed and made her giggle like Mum did. No more playing Peter Pan in the morning. The whole world was different now.
Weeks went by, then months, then years. Mum was in a wheelchair and she couldn't talk. Then she had an "iv", then she baked a Thanksgiving turkey after three years went by. COW! After that, she could walk with a walker. And after that, after a long time, she could walk with a cane. One day, she tripped on the cane and in her anger, she threw it in the trash can. She never used a cane again.
The toddler, she turned eleven. She watched her Mum drive, and she listened to Mum tell stories of morning glories, of ladybugs and of rhymes, of songs and of the times. And Mum even wrote a Ladybug book for her.
And she knows that the edge of the cliff is just the edge.
It can be diverted.
If you stay on top, it doesn't matter that there's a cliff below.
It just doesn't matter.
Just don't look at it, pray to Jesus, and one day your Mummy will come home. To stay.
The only thing that Mum ever really, really wanted to be was a Mummy. So she smiled that fantastic smile of hers, and made it past the odds.
How did Mum recover? She just took one day at a time, laying on the edge of the cliff and not rolling over the wrong way. And she prayed.
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