“…there are things that you will only be able to learn by the weakest among us. And when you snuff them out, you are the one that loses.” ~Gianna Jessen
November 8th two thousand and twelve… I caught a glimpse into the infinite that is love… and I now know with every fiber that it is the only reason for our existence. To love and be loved. Not duty. Not honor. Knowledge. Responsibility. No. On November 8th two thousand and twelve I met the ferociousness that drives us all. It filled me and radiated from my fingertips. And it was love.
That day started like any other not too worrisome Karsten sick day. First thing in the morning I phoned the pediatrician. “Good morning Children’s Primary Care”… their voices soothe me in times of uncertainty.
A sigh of relief and a tiny pause to express my gratitude as I thought.
They know me, they know Karsten, I know them, they fit me in. I can count on them. Thank you.
“Dr. Robbins is busy till the afternoon we can fit you in sooner with someone else if you’d like”…
His fever is only 101.
and I responded “that’s ok I’ll wait. Doctor Robbins knows him.” Fast forward a few hours. We get dressed. One last temp before we’re out the door. It’s staying steady at 101, I feel relieved. We make it to the appointment. I’m giving him water in the lobby. His breathing is a little noisy. He’s worn out from the fever and our sleepless night. They quickly get me a room so that we can have privacy. I pick him up and pat on his little chest as we wait. Karsten drifted off to sleep. The doctor came in and listened in his always attentive and calm way. He listened as I told him that we were up all night and Karsten was sweating all night. How his feet were cold and I thought that he had the flu because I had a horrible flu with the same symptoms a couple of weeks before. He replied “I’m not terribly worried, his vitals don’t look too concerning. His heart rate is elevated, but that could be because he’s sick……………….the only thing concerning me is how sleepy he is. I know him and he’s usually very alert.
My heart feels like it stops and then restarts twenty times faster.
“Well he was awake all night so I think he’s just sleepy”
I started to justify. Why am I justifying?
Looking back I think I just didn’t want anything to be wrong. Not another thing. Not again. Denial never keeps me from getting the job done but it does creep in with fear when I can feel in my spirit that something is brewing. So when Dr. Robbins told me “I’m probably ruining your night. And it’ll probably be nothing. But just in case, I want you to go to Rady’s and have some labs drawn” I knew what I had to do…
” I didn’t pack for the hospital, can I go home and get his things”?
“Yes just go sooner rather than later”. I pack. We make the drive. The triage nurse is looking him over and asks “is his belly always that distended”? Time slows. down…. What? Thinking back it feels like it took me an eternity to look down. I can’t count the questions that raced through my mind as I looked down to see what he was seeing.
“What do you mean his belly is distended”?
“Is his belly distended”?….
“Dr. Robbins didn’t mention his belly”?….
“I didn’t notice his belly”?……
“or did I”?
I looked down and there it was. And that is when the replay in my mind hits fast forward. They take me back. help them pick him up. he’s on a table limp. yell for RT. ask me what he ate. they move him to another room. people SURROUNDING him. I can’t even count them. Karsten looks so cute in his jammies and bare feet. God I love him. talking about blood gas. and intubate. RT asking over and over how old he is…..
“He’s six years old”, I answer.
I don’t think that they knew that I was there because all of a sudden a doctor swirled around and filled the void between me. and him. Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. My love. She mentioned putting him on a ventilator and, for the moment, the last bit of my strength was used up.
And that’s when the door opened and I met it. Infinite love. I know that it’s in us all of the time, but at that moment it was like the trap door that only allows love to trickle out between its hinges (probably for good reason) exploded and I had access to it all. All of the love that is, that ever was, and ever shall be. All of the love that anyone in the universe thought was theirs at that moment was mine and I was feeling it for my child. It filled me. It was so strong it could have given me the strength to tear that whole building down, or in a millisecond could have spontaneously squashed my heart. I’m convinced it could have lifted me right off of the ground and left me to levitate right there in the emergency room… the forces of gravity did not apply against what I was feeling. I wanted out. Now! Rewind time. Not again. Why is this happening. Why him. Kill me now. Take me instead. I don’t care because what I’m feeling is annihilating me anyway. My heart is crushed.
Days before this we got the keys to the house that was made for him. and now there I was sitting on a brick wall on the side of the emergency room giving Karsten’s history through streams of tears to a medical student and an intern as my baby lay down the hallway
and his life lay in the balance.
I wondered to myself… Is life bittersweet or just bitter? Where is the justice in this happening to Karsten for the second time? He IS innocence. WHY? Is there a lesson in this? Part of me hoped not. That would be a piercing pill to swallow that my son was in this state for a lesson. My sheer will wouldn’t allow a testimony to someone else as a reason to justify his suffering.
We spent a month there. Day by day he recovered. Day by day he surprised his doctors. Not every day was tear filled. My baby was fighting to come back to me. One day I’ll tell you the story of Maria… the sixty year old woman with cerebral palsy that I met downstairs in McDonald’s on Karsten’s second day there. She felt like a guide and I felt like I don’t have all of the answers but nothing is by chance.
We are both mostly recovered. His lungs give him some trouble from time to time.
And my heart gives me some as well.
I don’t have any profound wisdom that I gained from that experience. I do know something more of the depth, breadth, and infiniteness of the love that we are capable of. I feel more. It surprises me that feeling more was even a possibility.
I fight not to fear more.
The one thing I know even more than ever is that love is the only thing that matters. Its been almost a year. Now I can talk about it. and now I’m revisiting that experience to sift through the rubble it left behind to try to find closure. I want to move on with my whole self, my whole heart, and not just the fractured pieces that are left after the second time that I almost lost my son.
My mother once told me that my great grandmother’s words were life is grand as long as you don’t weaken and I know them to be true. As bitter as life and love are they are absolutely just as sweet. And it is more than worth it to me to move on and risk with my whole heart to taste that sweetness again.
…there are things that you will only be able to learn by the weakest among us.
Patience. Acceptance. Appreciation. Perseverance….. Love.