"Sleep soundly my child, slumber sweetly in my arms, forget about the storms my child, there's nothing left to fear, I am here."
The sound of my mother's voice singing softly in my ear was so sweet to hear and it calmed me instantly. As a child, I had a hard time handling storms and I would always run to my mom's room and crawl into bed with her, trembling. She never yelled at me to go back to bed; she just wrapped her arms around me and whispered the song until I fell asleep. Mom always sensed when I needed her. If I found myself waking up from a nightmare, she was there before I could even cry.
Time flew by and as I grew, her song seemed to fade. She sang less often as I grew into adolescence and thought I could take on the world single-handedly. "You make me feel like a scared child when you sing to me mom." I told her, and it brought a fleeting sadness to her eyes. It hurt her to see me grow so quickly out of my "need my mommy" stage. Yet, despite my change, I still cherished every moment I spent with my mom. It was just in different ways now, like more shopping trips, vacations, and field trips at school. We became inseparable and she was more like a best friend than my mom. I was absolutely convinced that nothing could ever come between the awesome relationship my mother and I shared. But, our relationship was soon to change completely.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in third grade. She was put into remission for a while, only to find out that it had returned and this time it was in her lungs. Still, she was convinced (or at least she convinced me) that it wasn't a big deal and she would beat it this time just like she did before. It wasn't until my seventh grade year that things took a turn for the worse.
Despite mom being put back in the hospital, I still got to have my thirteenth birthday party. I was having a great time because I knew she would be perfectly fine. So, when brother came into my room and told me I had to send my friends home because we had to go to the hospital, I thought it was nothing. As we arrived at the hospital, I was still optimistic, but my heart stopped when I saw my dad bawling. I dropped to my knees in the middle of the parking lot. Tears were stinging my cheeks and I would neither move nor speak. I wasn't sure I could take any more bad news.
With cancer in her lungs and her brain, my mom was given just a few months to live. As devastated as I was to hear that I was losing my best friend to the biggest storm she ever had to face, I was able to muster up enough strength to go in and see her. She was lying there as if sleeping was painful, and I was afraid to breathe. I was worried that if I took another step, if one more moment passed, I would lose her to unstoppable time. But before I could speak, she called to me. "Sweetie come sit with me awhile. Sing me a song so I can sleep sweetly." I had never imagined that I would ever sing these familiar words to my mother. But sing, I did, while choking on my tears.
"Sleep soundly my angel, slumber sweetly in my arms now, forget about your storms my angel, there's nothing left to fear, I am here. I'll never leave your side my angel, nothing can harm you now, I'll always be here for you my angel, looking after you forever, I am here."
I spent every free moment with my mom. From the time I woke up in the morning until I sang her to sleep at night. When we had to part, whether I had to go to school or to the store, I yearned for the moment we were together again. And I will thank God for eternity, because the doctors said a few months and she lasted almost a year. Even though she progressively got worse, I will never forget what it meant to be there for her through her time of need.
Chemotherapy caused my mom to get painfully sick every time she ate. She got sick so often that I was able to get used to the sight and smell of vomit while I ate. Yet, I was there, rubbing her back and crying with her as she apologized for making me deal with this. As she began to lose weight, she needed me to help her in ways I never dreamed, like getting dressed and even going to the bathroom. I felt like a mother with a really big baby. But my mother was no baby, and she would always crack a joke that would get us laughing for hours. "I never thought you would be wiping my butt, but at least I'm not in a diaper!" Eventually, though, tears began to sneak past her strong eyes as she realized what was inevitable.
After a year, my mom's condition had deteriorated to the point that she could no longer stay home. The hospital to which she was moved was twenty minutes away, and I was nervous about not being there if she needed me to comfort her or sing to her when she couldn't sleep. I spent every chance I could with her, but within a week, the doctors suggested we should say our goodbyes.
I dreaded Tuesday night; her closest family and friends came to say their goodbyes. Her sister went in first, followed by her best friend, my dad, and then my two brothers. Because I was the only daughter and the closest one to my mother, they found it appropriate that I go last. We were warned by the doctor that she would not be able to respond, and everyone came out with the same look of unanswered questions and unreturned goodbyes. I set my standards high, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
I entered the dark room quivering with a mixture of hope and fear, knowing that tonight was the last night I could talk to my mother. I crossed the room slowly, to the beat of her heart monitor, afraid to breathe, afraid that I was losing my best friend. I sat myself slowly into the chair beside her bed afraid to open my eyes. I couldn't stand seeing my mother so utterly helpless and near death. I reached for her pale, fragile hand, surprised by how warm she felt. I began to speak softly.
"Mom, I love you, and you said you were never going to leave me...so why mom?" I could feel the tears filling my eyes. "You always promised that you would be around to watch me graduate, get married, and have kids. I can't do this without you!"
My heart nearly leaped out of my chest as I felt her squeeze my hand ever so slightly. Shocked, I almost convinced that it was my imagination. "I'll never leave," is all she could get out in one breath. The tears gushed down my cheeks and I buried my face in our entangled hands. When I was able to lift my head to look at her, she was smiling at me with her open eyes. What do the doctors know anyway? I could only stare at her while she smiled. "I love you Amanda, more than anything; will you sing to me one last time?"
"Sleep soundly my angel, slumber sweetly in my arms, forget about your storms my angel, there's nothing left to fear, I am here..."
Amanda is a sophomore studying business management at Adrian College in Michigan. She is on the Varsity Soccer and Dance Teams. Horseback riding, dancing and singing are among her hobbies. She enjoys singing the National Anthem at Varsity Hockey Games.