Fold after fold. Paper after paper. I successfully folded 663 paper cranes. Not the 1,000 that I had vowed I would complete, but as many as it took before my Mom started walking again. In the years when I folded paper cranes, I was out of hope. I was at my ropes end. My mom had had back trouble since before I could remember, but it became worse and worse. She stopped being able to come on family vacations with us. Long road trips became impossible.
Finally, one day after school, she told me her options. She was considering surgery. After years of pain, and suffering, the woman who hated the idea of anything invasive was considering back surgery.
I thought about it for 5 seconds.
Do it. I said.
Do it. Do the surgery.
She knew my reasons. I knew hers. We both knew how much we had gone through to get to that decision.
She had the surgery. She had the surgery to return to the land of the living. To regain her brilliant independence.
She went through hell and back again. And I was there, every day, sitting with her, going over math homework. Trying to maintain a semblance of our old life. Trying to return to normalcy. I came home and told her stories about my classes. Stories about science, math, english, anything to make her smile.
In English, we read Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes. I knew it was fiction. Historical fiction. But it wasn’t real. Yet I keyed into the book. I found so many connections to my own life. Perhaps I was grasping at straws. My mom didn’t have cancer. But I felt powerless. I felt like there was nothing I could do to control my fate. To cure my mom’s pain.
So I started folding cranes. Holding out hope that these cranes would cure her. That they would make everything better. I learned origami. Or at least to fold cranes. I had the single minded purpose to fold 1000 paper cranes for my mom.
Crane after crane. I could make a crane out of anything. I made countless trips to stores to buy more paper to fold more cranes to save my mom. For months, I would come home, do my homework, fold cranes. Weekends, fold cranes. Any spare moment, fold a crane.
Finally one day, I stopped. I stopped folding cranes. That day, my Mom had announced that she would be going back to work. I rejoiced. I thought the end of the pain was in sight. It wasn’t. But this was a huge step.
She started her journey back to the world of the fiercely independent woman who could conquer anything.
That was 10 years ago. Mom takes road trips whenever she wants now. Mom can fly across country without a second thought. Mom is fully back. And I have my cranes. My 663 cranes to cure my mother.