What do you do when your superhero is down?

A mother at the beach with her child.

As a child at the beach, Brandon Rodriguez stops for a photo with his mother, Milvia Hernandez. Photo courtesy of Brandon Rodriguez.

Brandon Rodriguez, Community News Reporter

What started as one of the greatest years of my life, 2016, nearly broke me as a person.

I was in my junior year of high school at Luskin Academy in South Central Los Angeles. 

I remember receiving a call from my stepdad at a time when we had fierce animosity toward each other.

“Hey, listen I know you’re at school,” he told me, “but I just want to tell you your mom got rushed to the hospital and is in intensive care.”

My heart dropped. The laughter of my peers seemed to fade into silence. I felt as if I was frozen physically and mentally.

I didn’t know any of the specifics. All I knew was that my mom had passed out and was not responsive.

While she stayed in the hospital, I moved in with my aunt because I did not want to be near my stepdad if my mom was not around.

I used to love being around my cousins and my family. But this time it was different.

I remember my aunt would talk to me everyday and check up on me asking me how I was feeling. She would say, “Everything is going to be all right, mijo. You just have to be strong for your mom and your sister.”

I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t feel anything.

Most days, I wouldn’t talk. I wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t look at anyone.

I avoided everyone and simply could not function. 

I went from having straight-A’s to all C’s, hurting my GPA and affecting what colleges accepted me the next year.

When my mom started to be more alert and responsive, doctors allowed for my immediate family to visit her. I did not go.

Not one single time, did I go visit. That haunts me everyday of my life.

My mom and I tried to speak on the phone one time, and I could not do it. I felt in shock, paralyzed even, just hearing her voice in the condition it was in, seeing pictures of the machines she was hooked up to and wires all over the place. I could not do it.

She kept telling me everything was going to be okay, that I had “to be her little grown soldier.”

I was so scared. The thought of that one person I thought was invincible, being in the condition she was in — it broke me to pieces. The thought of my superhero dying changed my life.

A mother and a son at a party.
Brandon Rodriguez and Milvia Hernandez pose for a photo at a party. Photo courtesy of Brandon Rodriguez.

Luckily, my mom was able to recuperate a couple months later and is still with me until this day.

You really do not start to appreciate the smallest and slightest things until they’re gone. You think everything lasts forever, until it does not. 

My whole perspective changed. I began to appreciate the little things that I never would before this incident. I cherish everything: Even being able to breathe in fresh air is something I am so grateful for.

We all get our life-changing sign or experience. That happened to be mine.

Community News reporters are enrolled in JOUR 3910 – University Times. They produce stories about under-covered neighborhoods and small cities on the Eastside and South Los Angeles. Please email feedback, corrections and story tips to [email protected]