I am sitting under the dim colorful lights of my son’s hospital room, moving through a few days of vigilance and exhaustion. I have been here pretty much non-stop since taking him to the ER Monday night, and broken away for about a total of 6 hours to head home with a list in hand of conveniences and needs, or for a few brief walks to get a meal and quietly watch the wind move the leaves around outside the hospital windows. A good friend has been coming toward the end of the day, meeting me for a light meal and a walk near the lake, which has been the extent of my social activity other than Facebook updates. I’ve also stopped at the Disney Pavillion to “pop bubbles” in their little mermaid – jungle book play area, well aware that the play area is for kids, but taking on the buggy simon-says or musical jewels to just play. I especially like Balloo – who I wish was real and could carry me on his shoulders for a while so I didn’t feel so heavy. On my drive back to the hospital today, and after a 15 minute rest in my own bed, the fan blowing on my skin and the smell of my bedding cradling me, I felt just how tired I am.
I don’t like to see my kid so sick, and worse, in pain. The underlying concern about him getting septic, the empathy I feel for his bloated tender belly, and the disappointment I hold about his aching legs because they don’t have a bed to really accommodate a 6’3″ teenager who is still a kid, has kept me vigilant. There is a growing tweak in my neck, and my gym routine broken down, I can feel my body asking for a bit more than just a nightly walk. At any murmur I am there to help him in and out of bed, to bring him water, to track down a nurse, to quiet the beep of another round of antibiotics, the ongoing smile I am carrying so he knows it is all going to be fine. I am feeling just how tired I am.
This is where I have found the biggest battle – the internal chatter that includes not recognizing how severe his belly ache was, the part of me that verbally expresses concern about the finances and the underlying awareness I know he has about that this last year. The awareness that maybe he has been dead set on doing all the exercises they request so he can “get out of here soon” in order to protect me. There is the piece of me that always insists on doing it alone, who is learning to ask for help and is battling the old tape that doesn’t want to inconvenience anyone. There is that part that when I am not occupied talking to nurses, or checking my mail, or following up with clients, and get a moment to just sit with my body… my eyes fill up, wet and heavy and scared… and a little angry. Angry at the father that hasn’t helped with his support for at least 6 years now, angry that he has excuses about no work, but all he has to do is take care of himself. Angry that I am not making more money….Angry that I didn’t go straight home and cancel my class earlier, angry at the FL Kidcare system for not communicating to me about my application for his support.
Then there is gratitude… for having family who loves us so much that I can ask for help if I need it. Grateful for all the friends who have checked in with me throughout the day to see what I might need, how they can help. Grateful for the staff here that have been sweet and considerate, for a room big enough to comfortably hold us both so I am able to sleep and stay close, for free parking, for Panera in the hands of a friend, for medicine that will speed his healing, for the calm breeze outside once the sun has gone down that reminds me of the gentle hands of my grandmother.
I am noticing how tired I am. I am not willing to leave him alone for too long. If I were to go home and sleep I wouldn’t do that well anyway – because I would be worried about his care and status. And yes, I know he will be fine, I know he is getting tremendously good care, I know the finances will work themselves out, I know that worrying doesn’t fix anything and expends energy… and I am noticing how tired I am – wanting someone to just wrap me up for a bit so I can just FEEL that support, down to my core, because that is the last place I seem able to take care of myself right now in an effort to make sure he gets better.