This was the scariest moment of my life.
Not because my mother, in an exhausted attempt to find us somewhere to sleep for the night, turned the wrong way down a one-way expressway ramp, but because it made me realize that her illness was going to have a larger impact on the rest of our lives than we had imagined.
Multiple Sclerosis is a tricky disease. Everyone is affected differently and you never know when new symptoms will appear. Some days you might not feel any effects at all. Some days you might not be able to walk. All of your symptoms can disappear for months at a time and then come back with a vengeance. It’s a giant guessing game.
I remember when my parents first told me and my brothers about the condition my mom was suffering from. I was in third grade and I wasn’t scared of MS then – parents are supposed to be invincible, ya know? At that point she was only having some mild numbness in her fingertips; weird, but no big deal.
Fast forward to the summer before I entered fifth grade.
I had spent two weeks with an aunt and uncle in Maine. My mom drove to Maine to pick me up and take me back to Michigan. For most people, this wouldn’t be a problem.
For my mom, however, her MS was projecting itself in the form of extreme exhaustion. Add nighttime driving and a soothing voice reading us Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire over the car stereo, you have yourself a recipe for disaster.
It was late at night and my mom had finally admitted her exhaustion so we were driving around trying to find a hotel for the night. After one town was a bust, we had to get back on the expressway to move on to the next.
Sounds simple, but the brain doesn’t work quite right when it’s tired. Onto the ramp we go, only in the wrong direction. Thankfully a car was headed towards us and mom realized her mistake in time to turn around before any damage could be done.
While no one was hurt, that’s the point that I realized my mom wouldn’t be around forever. There’s really nothing more terrifying than realizing some one you love won’t always be around.