I was on school holidays so I went with my dad to see what of the Nissan branches on the South Coast or somewhere around there. Im not too sure, because it was twenty four years ago. I was ten years old at the time. We had just moved to Toti from Port Shepstone a few months before that, dad was working for Nissan and mom had found a sales rep job at Brabies. So, there I was so bored, dad was in his meeting and I was reading old magazines in the waiting area. Suddenly my dad got a very urgent phone call. I must have not heard correctly because what I heard him say was “My boss was shot, I have to go!” Then he came and got me and we rushed back to the Durban office and he had someone go and fetch my brother and sister and bring them to meet us there. My dad didn’t say a word to me the whole way there. I really was unaware of what was going on. We arrived at the office, my brother and sister were already there, everyone was crying and sad. I didn’t understand why. Now me being the youngest they all tried to comfort me but I still wasn’t aware of the severity of the situation. My dad rushed off. Then one of the “grown ups” told me that my mom had been shot and that she was in hospital. It all just hit me like a ton of bricks. My emotions inside were in turmoil yet I didn’t show it on the outside. I couldn’t break down, I wouldn’t.The day she was shot she went with her boss through to Durban Central. They had parked the car outside one of the buildings and my mom decided to wait for her boss in the car as she wouldn’t take long. A day or two later, it could have even been the same day but im not too sure. My dad took the whole family to the hospital to see my mother. When I walked into that hospital room I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. She was hooked to all sorts of machines with tubes going in all sorts of places. She had bandages around her head. I didn’t even recognize her because she looked absolutely terrible. I could not believe that this was my mother, the woman I kissed goodbye in the morning of her shooting. The doctors came and gave us an update. They told us that she had a five percent chance of survival, and that if she did by some miracle survive, that she would be a “vegetable” for the rest of her life. This was a huge shock to all of us. I didn’t know how I was going to cope with losing my mother. When the doctors were able to operate, they had to cut her skull in order to access the damaged part of the brain. They couldn’t get the bullet out because it was too deep and in a part of the brain where if they had to take it out she would have died instantly. So they left the bullet inside the brain and operated, and stitched her back together. When she woke up she knew what was going on around her but she couldn’t move or talk. She could hear the doctors talking amongst themselves, she knew exactly what they were saying but she couldn’t communicate with anyone or let anyone know that she was not going to die and that she would fight her hardest to come out of this. It was so frustrating for her to hear them saying that she wasn’t going to make it or that she didn’t understand anything they were saying. The words were there, they just wouldn’t come out. A day or two after that my dad went in to see her and he sat beside her on the hospital bed holding her hand. She was trying desperately to tell him that she loved him and that everything was going to be okay. Her experience of this was similar to that feeling when you’re sleeping and you are aware that you are dreaming and you try to wake up, open your eyes to to scream but no matter how hard you try it wont work. You know the frustration you feel when that happens to you? That is what she felt like in that very moment, only it wasn’t a dream, it was a real life nightmare. Suddenly my father felt her squeezing his and half saying his name. That was the moment. The moment he realized that she was not at all in a vegetative state and that he was witnessing what most people would call a miracle.
Over the next few days, weeks and months she got a little better and we visited her more and more. She was like a baby that was learning how to talk and how to walk all over again. She died on that operating table and she fought for her life, literally, she couldn’t say goodbye to us just yet. So she came back. She had to do a lot of physical therapy to get her muscles working again and to get those parts of her brain that were working to work harder in order to overcome the damage that was done by other parts of the brain.
Eventually she was well enough to come home. It was so weird for us kids because she was like a total stranger. Who was this woman? She used to always say the wrong words or her sentences wouldn’t make sense, for example she would say “him” instead of “her” and the like. Unfortunately this was happening around the time when I was going through puberty and it was very difficult because I had no help with the whole “period” thing and “the birds and the bees”. I kind of just had to do my own thing and figure it our on my own. Mom underwent speech therapy once a week for three years. Eventually she was okay again. But things were never the same. My mom was never able to find work again as this affected her speech, her spelling and her body language. Its funny how people don’t believe in miracles. But if you had to meet her today you would never know she still has that bullet in her brain!
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