The events of this past week have brought a lot of emotions to the surface. Quite honestly, I never truly realized that Erin gets her strength from me. It’s rather annoying and amazing at the same time. She slaps those latex gloves on, changes her own dressings, accepts her nasty meds with loathing (“This tastes like throw up, and it’s child abuse!!”) and swallows it down anyway, and when you ask her “How are you, Erin?” she takes a thoughtful moment to give you the adequate number relating to the pain chart, “Four.” (I have to take a second to explain to visitors why she is responding with a number.) And, the humor. “Why do people keep bringing me stuffed dogs, don’t you think that’s a LITTLE inappropriate?!” We’ve said as long as we can find humor in any situation we are going to be OK. As we were leaving the hospital her nurse said to Erin that it was such a joy to take care of her. It’s not often on the Peds floor that a child does exactly what she is told to do. But, she will also stick to her guns if you try to push her too hard. This girl has her limits. It’s a privilege to be her mother. It means I’m the one she reaches for – especially when it’s the absolute worst, and the one she pushes away because we tend to hurt those closest to us when we are hurting. I’ve been on the giving end of the latter myself…and the receiving end. Neither one is a good place to be. After a particularly difficult night at the hospital, I grabbed a bite to eat by myself. I sat in a corner booth and fought back tears. I began to write, to try to put into words what had been building up inside me. Kim left me a voicemail and I couldn’t bring myself to listen to it. It was 44 seconds long, so I already knew what it was going to say. I texted her to tell her that I couldn’t talk to her because I would just fall apart if I did. I made it through dinner, kept dabbing my eyes with my napkin, got Dylan some food to go, and came home. Dylan gave me a hug as soon as I walked in the door and the tears just fell. He is warmth and pure love. I’ve often jokingly said I get enough love from both my children from just him. To know your children is to love them, and they are as different as night and day. Erin will decide when, to whom, and how she will love you. Dylan gives freely and often. He is full of I love you’s and hugs. He went back to his room and I sat on the couch in darkness, letting the events of the last 24 hours unravel and began to sob. I called my Mom and let it all out. I wept and apologized for how awful it must have been for her 28 years ago- how awful *I* must have been to her. I pushed her away so often, when she needed to love me the most. Sean reminded me in the hospital “Don’t take it personally, she only wants me to spend the night because I give her space” and I know this, I really do -up close and personal, my role through this has been whatever Erin needs me to be. I can’t fathom how my Mom and my Dad did it, day in and day out for over a month in the hospital, and not just the hospital around the corner – all the way downtown to Methodist. But, especially my Mom. 3 days in the hospital was a harsh reminder, a bitter taste, of everything we all endured. I shared my own experiences with Erin to give her the strength to get through, especially when they wanted to soak the wound. It took me right back to the soaks I had to do. In many cases, my wisdom backfired. “At least when you got hit by a car it was an ACCIDENT!” Well, this is true. Anyway, I believe the worst is now behind us, (although they are back at the ER trying to figure out why she cannot walk) but the timing feels a little diabolical. 28 years ago today. My son walks the very halls at Chatard that I navigated through in my wheelchair. He is the same age I was 28 years ago today. I can’t even imagine. Life is bizarre, and cruel, and beautiful, and I couldn’t help feeling like the past was repeating itself this past week, just on a much smaller scale. I would not feel complete without acknowledging what incredible parents I had that were simply given the burden of enduring. As a parent, I know it was harder on them than it was on me. The following is what I wrote Thursday night after I left the hospital.
It’s remarkable, really.