two years ago

“Good night, mama.”

My 7yo hugged and kissed me and we went through the rituals of bedtime.

“I know what tomorrow is,” she said, with her arms arms still wrapped around my neck.

Thinking she was talking about the dentist appointment she had, I said, “Oh yeah?”

“Two years ago you had your strokes.”

And like that I was swept away in a wave of memories of mother moments.

Putting band-aids on Nathaniel’s wounds.

Braiding Rachael’s hair.

Catching Peyton as she jumped in the pool.

Moments that can never be recaptured.

I’m truly heart-broken to know that two years ago I lost more than my ability to walk or use my right hand.

I lost the ability to dance at my children’s weddings.

I lost the ability to take my daughters to shop for a prom dress.

I lost the ability to drop my son off at his dorm.

My kids will always think about think of me when they buy a house.

I have this anniversary and it makes me think of things yet to happen.

I try to remember the trust that those band-aids represented.

The love in each stroke of the brush.

The faith that I would always be there when they closed their eyes and jumped..

Two years ago I had the strokes that changed everything.

There is so much that those strokes took from me and my family.

There are things that matter the most that can never be taken.


At Babble I wrote about the ability to make to make every word count

photo credit

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36 Responses to two years ago

  1. Dee J December 1, 2011 at 9:10 AM #

    Thank you for your powerful and honest words. My 2 children lost the mom they used to know on Jan. 18, 2005, and since then we have travelled together on a journey no one saw coming. I call it the “health meteor” that crashed into our lives, unexpected and unseen until it splintered the world we thought would never change. They have become strong and compassionate young men from the experience, and we celebrate our ability to get through multiple surgeries and past their fear that, in my oldest son’s words, “we would never see you again.” Continue to be strong and get through each day, because sometimes, that’s the goal…to have enough strength to get through until the next bedtime. And by the way, I did get to dress up for my son’s wedding this past July, and it was awesome! If you ever need an e-hug from another mom living through an “adventure in medicine”, you have my email address. I’ve gotten a few more miles down the road, and it’s a privilege to share in your tears, smiles, and victories. Here’s to our ability to conquer, DJ.

  2. oceangirl November 23, 2011 at 7:35 AM #

    Your words are so powerful, I am speechless thinking of my own mother moments.

    oceangirl´s last post…shoot the moon

  3. The Domestic Goddess November 22, 2011 at 1:44 PM #

    Thanks for putting it into perspective. I am going to treasure those moments. Even the ones where I’m cleaning up poo. Because I have poo to clean up, because I have this amazing boy.
    So thanks.

    The Domestic Goddess´s last post…Swimming Against the Tide

  4. Alexandra November 22, 2011 at 11:06 AM #

    You have left me speechless.

    I am so humbled by being able to read this post.

  5. Unknown Mami November 22, 2011 at 11:02 AM #

    You are something else. Your talent, humor, and perspective are golden.

    Unknown Mami´s last post…Oh, the Things you Can Blog!

  6. Dawn Tucker November 22, 2011 at 5:46 AM #

    Please try and remember your last sentence, it’s so true. The most important things can never be taken away. And who’s saying you can’t shop with the girls for their prom dresses. The Anissa I know will always find a way!

    That said, I do understand the grieving process for what you’ve lost. But I’m happy that although you touch on it sometimes, you choose to celebrate the triumphs and successes rather than dwell on things too long. That’s the attitude that makes you loved by thousands (if not millions!) of followers
    I remember telling Pete the day you had your strokes that I was praying for you – along with thousands of others. I still pray for you and Peyton and thank God for the progress you’ve both made and that the Mayhew family is still totally rocking along together! xx

  7. Peryl November 22, 2011 at 5:31 AM #

    Your writing and your strength just kill me. So glad naomi introduced me.

    Peryl´s last post…Moms Take Vegas

  8. Jessica November 21, 2011 at 7:47 PM #

    You will spend the rest of your life recovering from this stroke and I’m not sure you should count yourself out of the dancing at your childrens’ weddings. And I suspect that when your children are old and talk to their grandchildren about their mother the thing they will always describe was how loved they felt by you, before and after the stroke. How any toughness, humor, adaptability this new generation has can be charted back to you. That is a big part of your legacy.

  9. IzzyMom November 20, 2011 at 3:06 PM #

    I will never forget that night.

    You’ve come so far. I know that’s not always enough but I’m so glad you are still in the world…kicking ass, taking names and always there for your kids in the ways that matter most.

    IzzyMom´s last post…Tired of Picking Up Socks? What Worked for Me

  10. Joanna November 19, 2011 at 5:34 PM #

    Two years ago, I was reading someone’s blog and the topic was you. You had had a stroke. I read your husband’s posts as you struggled to survive. The early reports did not sound like you had much of a chance of making it. And then you got better and better. At first you wrote little posts and then wit and charm started to be infused into the posts and I could not believe that someone who had had a major stroke was so articulate. I am a speech pathologist by training. I knew that your language skills post-stroke were so improbable. I could have never imagined that someone could recover her communication skills so completely.

    I hope you know how extraordinary you are.

    Joanna´s last post…Girls, Locker Rooms and Teachers In Positions of Authority

  11. Janmary, N Ireland November 19, 2011 at 3:47 PM #

    My words seem inadequate – your strength and your powerful writing shines!

  12. Susie November 18, 2011 at 1:23 AM #

    I’m pondering what to say after reading your post, Anissa. Your words really touched me in the deepest depth of my soul. A jumble of words/emotions inside me are jostling to get out in a coherent way. Alas, I am not the writer you are. But I do understand what you’re saying. I understand the pain of some “anniversaries”. We look at ourselves “before” and “after” during certain life events.

    My “anniversary” is coming up on 11/23. That is the date my husband passed away from cancer at the ridiculously young age of 47. I’m not looking forward to it at all! What’s gotten me through since his death are two quotes: “It is what it is” and “Life is unfair but sometimes it’s unfair in your favor.”

    Through all of the agonizing journey of the last 2 years for you, you realize what is most important (Nathaniel, Rachael and Peyton, and your soul-mate husband, Peter), and continue to move forward. You have a family like none other!

    That you have shown unstoppable determination and perseverance during this 24-month journey, and continue to have your one-of-a-kind sense of humor is a testament to who you really are. You’ve proven that miracles don’t always just happen, they take grit and grace on a daily basis. You proved the doctors wrong 2 years ago, and you continue to show all of us that there is no stopping you.

    Anissa, you never know what amazing adventures life has in store for you in the coming years. Who’s to say you won’t be dancing at your kids’ weddings? I’d be a fool to ever bet against you.

    I send you much love and hope that each day brings you the treasured gifts of unending love from your family and friends. (“Love doesn’t make the world go round. It’s what makes the journey worthwhile.”). Now go get tomorrow (like you always do)…

    PS Strokes and cancer suck!

  13. Georzetta November 17, 2011 at 4:59 PM #

    I can tell from your writing that you already know this but, for what it is worth, here is a reminder. There is only NOW. You are their mother NOW. They can trust you NOW. You love them NOW. NOW is all you have and all you can control. Be well.

    Georzetta´s last post…Still Stranded

  14. Nancy [Spinning My Plates] November 17, 2011 at 3:48 PM #

    Two years ago, my dad was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack and bypass surgery that nearly took his life. I remember sitting in his hospital room desperately scanning the Internet for updates from Peter about you.

    Two years ago, your fight reminded thousands of people (probably millions) of how precious and fragile life is…and how we get through the hell of those moments by pulling together.

  15. Ali November 17, 2011 at 2:43 PM #

    I’m wiping away tears…and feeling oh-so-Thankful that I finally got to meet you IRL…and that I saw you a second time, since I was so excited the first time that I forgot to get a photo!

    AND? For once, I wasn’t the shortest one in the room! ;) I treasure you. You are MY superwoman.

  16. Julie November 17, 2011 at 2:10 PM #

    So I can’t think of anything to say that’s not ridiculously trite.

    Thank you so much for inspiring so many of us and for all of the amazing you put out there on a daily basis. Here’s to you and two years of proving that anything is possible.

    Julie´s last post…So Long And Thanks For All the Peppers

  17. Sarah November 17, 2011 at 2:06 PM #

    You are truly amazing.

    By the way, my brother-in-law’s mother is wheelchair bound and she totally rocked his wedding.

    Sarah´s last post…The Audition

  18. Katherine November 17, 2011 at 1:30 PM #

    I will never forget this day either – I was supposed to see you and your family that night for the Rockette show! It’s insane to think about the turn of events that happened and how far you have come since then. You will ever inspire me! Much love and hugs!! XOXO

    Katherine´s last post…Smile Pretty

  19. Lianne November 17, 2011 at 1:13 PM #

    There is much on my heart now… but first I want to thank you and your family for your bravery and your vulnerability that you shared with the world via your blog during those really, really hard first months. Thank you for that gift.

    Thank you for teaching us all that wheelchairs and strokes, and every other of life’s unexpected shifts can be faced with love, gentleness, and an abundance of humor.

    Thank you for reminding us that we cannot possibly imagine what your daily routine entails, and yet, you always have time for us, your readers.

    You are truly one of the greatest gifts the internet has brought to me.

    So I pray for you and your family, and thank you for taking this on and blessing all of us through your journey.

    Lianne´s last post…After the Shift

  20. Carrie November 17, 2011 at 1:12 PM #

    Echoing what others have already said…I remember too – the day the funniest blogger I read had a stroke. What it did not take was YOU Anissa. And I am grateful for your strength, courage, grace and hilarious humor every single day. When my good friend had a stroke last year, you were the first person I thought of…and you’d already come so far. It gave me HOPE that she would pull through too, and she did. XOXOXO You, like always, rock.

    Carrie´s last post…Why I Will Never be a High School Football Coach

  21. Tiffany@Lattes&Life November 17, 2011 at 11:40 AM #

    I remember that day too. We had just met for the first time IRL at the Type-A Conference. I enjoyed your bewb rubs in the conference hall, and your scathing wit during a late night round of pool. I was rocked, like most of us I’m sure, to see how quickly things can happen in life. But yanno what Anissa? Those damn strokes did take some things….but they didn’t take your spirit…and that’s what I’ve always loved about you. And thank God they didn’t take away your scathing wit, because really……nobody does scathing wit better than you, my dear. I can’t wait to see you again this weekend!

    Tiffany@Lattes&Life´s last post…We’ve Been Busy

  22. erin margolin November 17, 2011 at 11:31 AM #


    You are my hero. Um, heroine. Not to be confused with heroin. I am sitting here crying over this post. You’re an inspiration to all of us. Strokes suck, but you’ve totally turned it around and made lemonade out of the lemons you got. ANd your kids understand—they know. And they love you. No matter what.

    erin margolin´s last post…The Nitty Gritty on the First Few Weeks of Motherhood.

  23. mommabird2345 November 17, 2011 at 11:29 AM #

    I don’t know what to say, other than, I’m so glad you’re still here and that you are still you.

  24. Malia November 17, 2011 at 11:09 AM #

    I grieve with you on all that you’ve lost. And I don’t want to be pithy and try to remind you what you still have and what you may have gained. I’m learning a little bit about grieving in this season of life that I’m currently going through. It’s a step that must be taken, a path that must be followed. But I do have to say that I’m truly glad that you are here, two years later.

    Malia´s last post…Still here

  25. Naomi November 17, 2011 at 10:57 AM #

    I’m so angry that so much was taken from you when you had those strokes. I can’t even imagine how devastating it must have been for you and everyone close to you to watch it all happen. But I continue to be unbelievably amazed at the way your attitude, incredible love and talent inspires people all around the globe. You are a beautiful and amazing person, Anissa. No one can take that away from you.

  26. Monica November 17, 2011 at 10:55 AM #

    I can’t believe it’s been two years. I know it’s been a long journey. I remember hanging on every word that your hubby posted.. for weeks, months, praying every day that you would be ok.
    I think of it this way… You may have lost the use of your right hand… for now.. You may have to be in a wheel chair… for now. You still have your heard, mind, soul, and your kids have their mommy. A mommy who is strong, stubborn, and full of love for them. There may be some things you have trouble doing, but you will adapt and overcome. Who says you won’t be able to do all those things? Pshaw… I know you’ll find a way… you will find a way to dance at their weddings… I know you will :)

    Monica´s last post…And so it begins…

  27. Angel November 17, 2011 at 10:54 AM #

    I had really just begun learning about the community of blogging when I heard about you and your blog, I also learned what had happened. I came to read what your husband wrote and I somehow felt that I was intruding in a life that I didn’t really know. This was information for bloggers who had been here in the beginning. Now here I sit following you on so many pages. In awe of all that you gained from those horrible strokes. I wonder could I be as humorous as you, write the things you write. I don’t know what or how you wrote before, if it was the same, but I know now I cannot NOT read what you have written. I think it was beautiful of your child to remember the moments that changed their lives. But the reality of how blessed she is that you are still here, you are still mom. I somehow doubt that it will remove your ability to help pick a prom dress or a wedding dress, you will make a way to get in there and do that. I think that has been the blessing in all of this. It has shown you and everyone what you can do not what you can’t. So far I think you are winning the battle don’t you.

    Angel´s last post…Give a disabled child a chance at independence with My Own Pet Balloons

  28. Christina Gleason @ Cutest Kid Ever November 17, 2011 at 10:33 AM #

    I’d forgotten that my happy day (birthday) was such a tragic one for you. Now I don’t think I’ll forget the connection.

    I am sorry for all you have lost. I can’t imagine the grief, the anger, the countless other feelings you must have about it still.

    But you still have amazing strength and grace about you, regardless of the physical stuff. Hearing you crack stroke jokes at conferences makes me think about how truly remarkable you are.


    Christina Gleason @ Cutest Kid Ever´s last post…Our New Thanksgiving Tradition

  29. Ann at Mundane Magic November 17, 2011 at 10:17 AM #

    Thank you for going beyond the “broken” to become someone different than you would have ever imagined. The sheer tenacity of making it through each day is amazing, but the fact that your sweet one noted the anniversary means that you have become even “more” in her eyes.

    I often think that some people show their wounds on the inside, others on the outside. Love you Anissa.

    Ann at Mundane Magic´s last post…Thanksgiving in a Box

  30. Rita Arens November 17, 2011 at 10:17 AM #

    That stroke was so unfair. I wish it hadn’t happened. I am so thankful you are here to write this. But that fact doesn’t negate that the stroke itself sucks donkey balls.

    This makes no sense, but I it’s how I feel.

    Rita Arens´s last post…Her Father’s Eyes, My Father’s Sight

    • Miss Britt November 17, 2011 at 1:39 PM #

      This is exactly how I feel, too.

  31. Grumble Girl November 17, 2011 at 10:13 AM #

    I just loveyouloveyouloveyouloveyouloveyou… I’m so glad you’re still here, sistah. Your strength will carry you forward… your family and friends will help with the rest of the heavy lifting. Forever and always. xoxoxox

    Grumble Girl´s last post…Still Here

  32. Loukia November 17, 2011 at 10:01 AM #

    I am so sorry. You are truly, truly inspiring. Not only to people who read your words, but especially to your family, I am sure. You’ll be at your children’s weddings, a beaming mom, and that’s the most important thing of all. You’re a survivor. And you’re here.

  33. Susan in the Boonies November 17, 2011 at 9:51 AM #

    I cannot imagine the sense of loss you must feel at times.
    I just hate that for you!

    Susan in the Boonies´s last post…Thanksgiving-Worthy Salad: Apple-Pear Salad with Maple Pecan Bacon

  34. Nanna November 17, 2011 at 9:48 AM #

    I remember that day, and the shock waves that spread among your friends. The fear, the grief, the anger. Bless you, little one.

    Nanna´s last post…Cry Baby Pee-Pee Pants No More!

  35. Jen November 17, 2011 at 9:19 AM #

    {{{hugs}}} Thank God the most important things cannot be taken away. :)

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