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In which it all locks into place

joehospital3

Sometimes your world locks into place.

When your son is complaining that his legs hurt and you roll up the legs of his jeans, fully expecting a bruised knee or a scrape to find something else entirely – red lesions and large bumps. And then you rush part of your heart to the emergency room.

When you are rocking in an old rocking chair, perhaps, creaking back and forth beside a gurney bed with a small boy perched atop, chatting like a magpie. The ceiling tiles have been replaced with plexiglass sky pictures, there are animal decals on the walls, and vitals are being taken every forty five minutes. When you wait for answers and every hour that passes takes the easy answers away.

When you watch the tests being run, when you hold your child down so that blood can be drawn, when you depend on others to bring you food, when the paediatrician made your tired boy laugh and you could have hugged him for that alone, let alone for the first answers of the long day. An odd sort of infection but complications. Perhaps it’s when you follow a child’s wheelchair into paediatrics and make phone calls with lists of overnight requirements.

But really, it was when it was time for the IV to be inserted and your child suffered so mightily, with such cries and tears and begging for relief, that was the moment when the world locked into place. Here is what matters: I want my children to be healthy. I want them to sleep well under my gaze, I want them to play and grow and laugh. I want them whole. I want to hold them close to me and rescue them. I want to take away the pain, I would take his place, I would, I would, set him free.

But the days unfold, one after another. You become thankful for the hospital in a real visceral way, like you are only thankful for food after becoming aware of its absence. You count heartbeats and vials of blood and IV bags. You count on nurses and decide that you will picket on their side the next time they want a raise. You crawl into what your son calls The Transformer Bed and you curl yourself around your child, patient together. You forget about Twitter entirely, you can’t even read a book right now, you simply want to sit in the time. Nothing else, no one else matters.

Your circle becomes very small. If you want to know who matters, who has your trust, ask yourself who you call, who you tell, who you trust with the details at this moment.

You haven’t cried yet. Just keep going, just keep going. There are things to do, you know. “How are you?” your people ask, and you keep saying you are fine. Fine. Fine, thanks.

The answers come and the risks decrease with each slow hour that passes in that tiny quarantine room with the big windows looking out on the highway. You watch old episodes of the Magic School Bus and skip meals and drink coffee. You knit round after round after round of the lace centrepiece. You marvel at your child: his laughter, his delight in small details, the way he turns everything about this ridiculous experience into a joy, the little charmer. The only time he cries is when he talks about how much he misses his sisters. You read his books out loud, make him stretch his legs every couple of hours.

Then there was the moment when your husband sent you home to sleep at last. You hadn’t slept in days, maybe that’s the reason why the sight of him there in that hospital bed beside the child you both love did you in. You kissed him heavily because here is someone who loves your child the way that you love your child. This is what love looks like: tired faces, relief, exhaustion, and still one foot in front of the other, caring for each other at the same time you care for the tinies, watching Backyardigans with your full attention.

By the last day, the threat of infection is long past, so you bring in one sister for a visit. They sit on the bed together, playing Mario Kart and roaring with laughter, happy to be together again. You take pictures with the phone, letting them make silly faces, creating videos for memories now that the fear is gone.

joehospital2

joehospital1

It’s time to escape at last: your son’s energy is at full-throttle again, his arms covered in bruises from so many needles, his legs healing nicely, his organs safe, so you sign the forms, pack the bags. As you walk past the nursing station, he says matter-of-factly “Thanks for all your hard work, guys” like he does this every week, ain’t no thing. See you later, alligators.

And then home.

This is when your world locked into place, it will begin to move again tomorrow. You’ll work again, you’ll waste time watching television, you’ll clean the washrooms, you’ll make supper, you’ll check Facebook, you’ll shout at him about the Legos all over the house. But right now, you simply sink to your knees in the living room because all of your children are at home with you and then you weep at last.

 

Continue Reading · family, Joseph, moments · 44

In which we’re learning love in the deep end

 

Joe: Mumma! Mumma! Mumma! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?

Me: Yes, for heaven’s sake. Don’t shout. Talk like a person, Joe. I’m right here.

Joe (serious eyes): Mumma. Now. If you buy me more little legos, my will love you more. Way more. But if you don’t buy me more little legos, my will not be happy and maybe not talk to you ANYMORE AT ALL EVER.

Me: Well, I’d settle for a few minutes of silence but if you need ANYMORE AT ALL EVER that’s fine, too.

Joe: Really, Mumma. My mean it.

Me: Joe-bear, that is not how love works. If you’re bad or mad or sad, do I stop loving you?

Joe: No. But you sometimes yell at me.

Me: Not the point, focus with me here. Okay. If you love someone, you don’t only love them because of what they do or buy for you. You love them because you love them, period. That’s how I love you, right? Always forever up to the moon and back, no matter what. So even if you’re not making good choices, I still love you. If you’re being good or bad, I love you. If you’re sad or happy, I love you. If you’re silly or sleeping, I love you.  Love is deep and wide and always, Joe-sie.

Joe: That’s right. You do. Love is always – even if I’m happy or bappy or sappy or cappy or…. (continues rhyming all the nonsense words of “-appy” for a while until I think I better wrap it up.)

Me: So. No legos today. And no legos tomorrow. You have plenty and that’s that. And now you don’t get to stop loving me because I didn’t buy you legos today. And you don’t love me more on your birthday if you do get legos. Got it?

Joe (thoughtfully): Got it. But Mumma, maybe for things like that, I’m just in the shallow end of love, not the deep end you said. Because my really love little legos in the always way.

P.S. Full disclosure: within 5 minutes, he was back to asking for more little legos.

 

Continue Reading · Joseph, parenting · 16

In which I wear dandelions in my hair

dandelions

Every time Joseph sees a flower, he runs over and pulls it, roots and all, out of the ground, and then he gives it to me. It’s early spring, and he can’t reach the pink cherry tree blossoms or the white apple blossoms, so his offerings are closer to the ground, stubborn.

My hands smell like dandelions and dirt at the end of the days because he’s always filling my hands with his gifts.

The girls pick their little weed-flowers and wander, as on a cloud, but Joe never thinks of keeping a single one for himself.

“My wanna give my flower to mumma.”

We were at a little wilderness sanctuary the other day, the fields were full of dandelions, and I looked at him, crouched intent on a small hillside, hauling bright yellow dandelions out of the dirt, and turning towards me, with his face alive at the joy of giving gifts. He’s not so tiny anymore: he’s all boy with strong muscles under that constant hockey-jersey.

He stood up on that bright green hill, tall, the sun was on the water behind me, and he stumble-ran, an oversized puppy, tumble-bumble, pell-mell, down the hill to me. He’s a complex and wild-loving boy and his gigantic toothy smile nearly made me drop to the ground. There is too much God in such unselfish delight to behold it unveiled, perhaps our shadows help us take in such holiness. I had a moment of uncomplicated joy, just for a second, without a single shadow or doubt or distraction, I opened my arms up to him, he ran straight to me, his hands full of weeds he longed to give away. I braided a crown out of his smashed and wilting dandelions, and I wore it in my hair. Who cares who cares who cares what anyone thinks, there is so much love.

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Continue Reading · faith, family, Joseph · 29

In which Joe wants to throw a party for Evelynn

 

Evelynn and Joseph

Me:  Well, Joseph, our Evelynn Joan is turning two soon! What kind of birthday party should we have?

Joe:  A dinosaur party! A hockey party!

Me:  Well, we should pick something that Evelynn likes a lot. Like …  maybe we could have a bathtub party because she loves taking baths so much? Or a cookie party? Or a Little Bear party? What does Evelynn like best in the world?

Joe: My know! We should have a Joseph party for Evelynn! She likes me best of all the things! I’m her favourite thing because my am her best brother!

#SeriouslyThisCloseToDoingIt

 

 

Continue Reading · Evelynn, family, Joseph · 13