This past fall my son was sick for several months. And though he’s feeling better and we’re gaining confidence that his illness is behind him, that experience knocked us down hard.
Just after Thanksgiving, after four days of another round of nausea and headache, I took our son to the hospital for the third time in six weeks. My husband was away, and I couldn’t face the impending night and the long weekend ahead with my son lying still in his room, slowly drying up and growing weaker and more disheartened by the hour. He had surrendered, but I couldn’t. Not yet.
So, I got him to sit up, and I dressed him in jeans that now bagged around him. I wrapped him in his sweatshirt and drove him to Good Samaritan hospital as the sun set behind the Santa Cruz Mountains. I walked him into the emergency room for the third time. We sat in plastic chairs in the waiting room until the triage nurse called him to her station and took his blood pressure and his temperature and realized he was too dehydrated for the oral thermometer to get an accurate reading. Then she called for a gurney and IV fluids immediately.
I'd brought him to the hospital. I carried him, as if on a royal pallet to the court, and laid him before those who could heal him. “Take my son,” I said. “Make him well. Make him whole again. Make him laugh and eat and run. Restore him. Give him hope.” These people were trained care for him in the practical ways they’d been trained for, confidently and clinically. Unlike me, with my palpitations and tears and stabs of fear and gobbledygook prayers. They would determine he was truly sick and admit him upstairs to the pediatric wing. “Embassy Suites,” my son called it, where he could lie in a bed that moved and a button to call the nurse, and a TV attached to a swivel on the wall, and his own bathroom, and crowds of people who applauded him for eating or drinking or sitting up or walking on his own.
During those months, as I fought the surrender, I grew raw, rubbed down to the bone, until my spirit was exposed. Finally I asked my friends and community for prayers, good thoughts, well wishes—whatever they could give. My gobbledygook prayers changed from “Please make him well” to “Make me the best mom for him,” which curiously gave me the peace I sought.
My son got better. Little by little he ate and drank and slept and laughed and walked and sat up and slept flat. And then he went home from the hospital for the third time, and stayed there.
As I waited and watched for those small signs of normalcy to return, I noticed that something had happened. Those well wishes, good thoughts, and prayers of other people had buoyed me. My spirit, unable to walk on its own to the place it needed to go, was carried there by the love of others. Then they laid it down and said, “Make her well. Make her whole. Give her hope. Restore her.” And gradually, so gradually I have healed. In many ways, we all have.
2012 by Marilyn C. Hilton