When you are a mother waiting in a children’s hospital, watching the sluggish stroll of parents, the cloud of worry weighted in their hair and eyes, what are you supposed to do with your hands?
When you are a mother waiting in a children’s hospital, words lay limp on magazines. I do not see them on my Kindle. My eyes have checked out.
As I wait, only my hearing hasn’t left me. The television announcer, quietly declaring a hockey game. A large group next to us, awaiting an update, whispering their fears and encouragement. Papers are shuffled at the front desk. Administrators, nurses exchange pleasantries. And the swift door flaps back and forth. Thump. Thump. News is delivered. Updated on a screen. Case numbers and statuses like arriving and departing flights. Successes and complications. A peek of a hallway leading to a sterile room, adorn with Elmo and Cookie Monster, pasted there to distract from the needles and stethoscopes, machines that monitor and beep. Tape will be stuck to your skin, a catheter snaked through your vein to capture the frantic pace of your heart. Your heart. That hasn’t behaved for two years. An electrical defect, signaling in a continuous loop, speeding out of control. You will be fixed as you sleep, My Love.
And when you wake, it will only race…
When your feet hit the cool lap of a wave as you stare across the ocean.
When you make the shot or reach for a goal, and feel the rush of victory and hear the roar of applause.
And that boy at school looks back at you and smiles, his face flushing with heat. Don’t be alarmed if this really sets it off.
It will quicken over planning sleepovers and parties, when high school friendships are everything and days are timed with daily bells and summer vacations.
Or reaching for the mail and reading a college acceptance letter and mapping out your future. Your heart will fill with the scare and excitement of it. The independence.
And through all this it might still feel broken at times or held in the wrong hands. You may feel its betrayal. You may wonder about its direction and you’ll wonder if they fixed you today. But I hope you understand, this is just life.
Because . . .
You will know love.
You will know family.
And you will know what it’s like to care for someone greater than yourself. You’ll wonder how your heart can feel so full and beat so fiercely and how you’d be willing to give it away completely.
But for now, the clock ticks as I wait, and my heart beats for you.
(Feb. 20. 2014: For my brave daughter. Sweet success.)