A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Katie,

I’m sorry Mom had a stroke. I thought I was healthy and doing everything right. I’d take you places, do fun things with you, help you with your homework. I was doing the best I could. I was Super-Mom and always would be. Or so I thought ….

Then, all of a sudden, the stroke hit and — BAM! — I wasn’t there for you anymore. I left you with no explanation. The last thing you heard me say was “I’m going to die.” You witnessed me having the stroke. At the hospital, you watched as I was rolled away on a stretcher. I remember you holding your grandmother’s hand as I was taken away from you. I couldn’t talk by then, and I wanted you to know I loved you, but you couldn’t feel what I was thinking. I can only imagine what was going through that pretty head of yours.

I’m sorry I didn’t see you for two weeks. That I couldn’t talk to you on the phone and have you tell me about what you did in school that day. And when you did get to see me in that hospital bed with tubes in my nose and machines beeping, I couldn’t even hold you. Your eyes were so big, you barely said a word.

I’m sorry our visits that summer were either in a hospital room or outside in a hospital garden. When we should have been running and enjoying the summer sunshine together, I was relearning to walk and talk. I thought about you every day, and you were my motivation to get better and come home.

I’m sorry that once I came home, it was more difficult than we thought it would be. I was an emotional wreck and couldn’t help you with the things I used to — picking your clothes out, packing your lunch, helping you with homework — I couldn’t do any of that. Others had to step in to help you with basic needs. I thought you would forget me, your mom.

I’m sorry that as you’ve gotten older, you feel like you need to protect me: at home, in public, everywhere. When I have an emotional episode, you are the one comforting me when I should be comforting you. I lay my head on your chest and sob. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I feel like you mother me more than I mother you, and it breaks my heart.

Survivor Delanie Stephenson takes a selfie with her daughter Katie

I’m sorry you’ve had to grow up before your time. That friends couldn’t come over because Mom was tired, or I couldn’t take you to the movie because being around people makes me anxious. You shouldn’t have to deal with half the things you’ve had to. But you did them all, without complaint.

I’m not sorry for the one thing the stroke did give us: time. Time for you to talk and me to listen. Time for me to get you on the bus and off when you get home. Time to be more involved with meetings at school and to take you to whatever extracurricular activity you want to do. Time to see you for the beautiful young woman you’re becoming, inside and out.

Although it may seem like Mom can control everything, unfortunately I can’t. But there’s one thing I can control and always will: my love for you.

I love you, Katie Elizabeth.



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