This is a letter to my mother about our journey through my progressive hearing loss. I started losing my hearing when I was 6. When I turned 31, I did my first cochlear implant. Less than two years later, she passed away.
I miss you so much. I have written you letters on my other blog, and I realized I had not yet written a single one in here. These past years, our path has been the path of my hearing loss, which we walked hand in hand, with many tears and endless trips to Porto Alegre.
I remember one evening in a hotel room after one day doing exams in which we were crying. We looked at each other and said: “Do we really have to do go all over it again?” And we did. I remember that morning I went to have surgery at the hospital, and I had to pretend I was strong while I kissed you goodbye and your image disappeared on the floor, sobbing. We suffered on our journey. Still, I treasure every smile, every tear, every look, every experience, every lesson we gave each other.
Looking back, I can only thank you. Ever since I was little, you became my ears. My ears let me down, but you were there to save me. I felt like the luckiest person in the world for having a mother who protected me from everything and everyone. Do you remember how you’d be furious if anyone said that I was deaf? Remember how, whenever anyone talked to me and I could not understand, I would look at you and you would answer for me? Remember how I would be called out and you would shout even louder to warn me? Remember all the times you gave a ride to the university where I learned sign language? Remember the first phonoaudiologist who suggested I may suffer from hearing loss, and you almost hit her? Remember my diagnosis, which led you to collapse in the doctor’s office? Remember when I started to use hearing aids and you did not know how to discuss it with me? Remember how you read my first blog post on deafness and you cried like a baby? Remember your fist comment on one of my posts, in 2011? Remember when I decided I wanted to do a cochlear implant and you were scared?
You’re no longer here, mom.
Love is the greatest gift a child can receive. The rest is just the rest. When you left, I was alone in the world. I found out that inside I am just a 7-year old who wants to shout “Mom, there’s a whistle in my ear!” No other pain hurts this much, no other pain feels so empty. It is the northern wind of the soul. A heavy silence, impossible to communicate.
Mom, it hurts so much to land in any airport and not receive any message from you asking whether I’m well. I don’t hear your voice. I can’t call you. “Hi, daughter,” “I love you more than the world,” and “my babys” now only exist in my memory.
I am grateful that I had the chance to listen to your voice again in this life. It was what I most wanted in case I could hear again.
I am grateful for having called the ambulance and being able to see you alive for nine more months. And I could only do it because you had guided me in my long path. We crossed it together, my silent journey was ours.
Without you, I would not have listened again. Not without your courage. Not without your help. Not without you always present, always cheering for me. Not without me being able to cry on your shoulder. Without your desire to see me whole, I would still be in half.
They say you choose your mother even before you come into this world. I think I chose you because I needed to learn how to be strong. Some people inherit wealth. My inheritance was strength. It is this strength that sustains me now and makes me smile on days in which even breathing seems hard.
I read your mind. I read your eyes. I read your smiles. I read your tears. I read your lips.
I learned everything there was about your lips. I think I would be able to read them even in the dark. Many nights I cry alone. What is the halfway point between keeping someone on your soul, on your chest, and no longer being able to talk to them? Mother, if you are standing on the edge, how can you find balance?
Thank you for having been my shield. My cane. My wheelchair. My interpreter. My translator. My spokesperson. My best friend. My loyal companion. My rebellious younger sister. My travel mate.
Thank you for having been my ears for 31 years.
Thank you for having pushed me to the light.
Thank you for making me feel proud of every little good thing I was able to do in this life. For having been by my side in every important moment. For being with me in spirit from now on. For sending a shooting star every time I ask you in my thoughts if everything is well in the place where you are. Thank you for making a blue butterfly dance in my face in the middle of the busiest avenue in Copacabana.
Thank you for having talked to me for 18 minutes the day before you left. Thank you for guiding me, with a mother’s intuition, through the right path. Thank you for clearing my ways, as crazily as anyone could imagine. Now I understand you, mother. I will spend the rest of my days rehearsing the moment we meet again. It’s going to be so beautiful. Please continue to show up in my dreams.
I love you more than the world.
Support Paula Pfeifer’s work. She is a hearing rehabilitation activist in Brazil and she is deaf herself – two cochlear implants.
Paula Pfeifer is a brazilian writer. Two of her books about hearing loss, hearing aids and cochlear implants can be found in english and spanish in Kindle.
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