New Year’s Eve. Ringing in 2017. I can’t believe that James is here with us to greet the new year. 2016 was not the year that we expected. It had incredible highs and incredible lows, much having to do with James.
But he’s here. And he’s so loved.
I wanted today to be a happy day, but it is a dark day here in the PICU. I left to get lunch in the cafeteria, and as I came into the PICU waiting room, I was confronted with at least 3 dozen people, many crying and red-eyed. An air of incredible sadness and fear hung over the whole room.
As I slowly made my way to the cafeteria, fighting off tears, I passed one of our nurses. She was assisting in moving a little girl to the PICU. The little girl was in a neck brace, her face unrecognizable with bruising. Multiple IV pumps accompanied her.
When I came back, I was again facing the gauntlet of haggard, weeping faces, as I passed through the PICU waiting room.
Last night, a little girl 6 years old ran out onto the Asheville Highway and was hit by a car. She now lays in the room adjacent to James. I can hear the muffled sobbing of her family through the wall.
It is against my nature to not help when I’m in a medical environment. After 9 years of emergency work, it is second nature to grab an IV pump, medications, fix a bed, comfort a grieving owner. Here, I am surrounded by equipment so familiar to me, by emotions that I face daily at work, and yet, I am helpless. I am a “client” here – my son a patient. I can do nothing to help anyone.
I want to do something. I want to gather the little girl’s sobbing mother in my arms and tell her that it will be ok. Except it probably won’t be ok, and I would just be lying. I want to bring food to the waiting room full of weeping people, but who could eat? So I sit here and quietly weep for the pain of the family next door – the family that is very likely saying goodbye forever to their little girl. I weep for how hard and unfair this life can be. I want to scream “WHY? WHY? WHY?” until the word sounds foreign and lose all meaning. I want to throw something against the wall and watch it break into a million pieces.
Being a parent is literally walking around with your heart outside of your body. It’s out there in this big, harsh, cruel world. I have 3 hearts walking around, and the anxiety over their wellbeing, both short-term and long-term, always weighs heavily on me.
I want to be hopeful. Every day, I try to face with hope, with joy, with gratitude for what I’ve been given – not with sadness for what we’ve lost. For what we are losing. For what is still to come.
But dammit, today – today I just want to break something.