Friday, September 25, 2009

Living in a fishbowl


~ excerpt from My Sister's Keeper (page 79)

Two years ago I was in the church parking lot waiting for my son, my oldest, my firstborn. Earlier in the day he had been whisked away with a carload of other kids to the church camp about 40 minutes away. I look up to spot my Pastor and his family. They came to relay a message to a non-cell phone carrying person (myself) that my son had been involved in an accident, "A bottle shattered and a piece of glass hit his head, there was a lot of bleeding, he's ok but they think he needs stitched up." His Aunt (who had been up at the camp for the day) was transporting him to a local hospital to get checked out. I tried to remain calm and outwardly act this way for my sanity and for the sake of not looking like an overprotective nervous mom in the presence of others.

I casually called the girls to come to the car from where they were playing on the lawn. From there on it was full speed ahead. Quick stop at home for an insurance card and then wait- stuck in traffic! NO!!!! The thoughts running through my head at that time were numerous and then some. I thought about me, my child, wondered how deep the wound was, was he scared, would my husband make it to the hospital in time to not only be a comfort to Caleb but to me as well? Fainting is more my body's response to blood than being present. The cars were moving but as if in slow motion. I wondered if they knew where I needed to be, if anyone cared that it wasn't a super sale that I was anxious about missing, that it was my son that needed me to be with him! I needed to be with him. My heart was beating out of my chest, willing the cars to move faster.

What seemed like an eternity later I did end up at the hospital- ahead of my son even. Finally, in he comes, head bandaged up with dried blood caked on. He looked like a survivor. He had been crying and I could see the fear in his eyes. But, there was also a calmness about him as well. I knew at that point that life would continue on as normal after this little blip of 7 staples and having to endure wearing a swimming cap for swimming lessons the next week. It could have had a different ending, the glass could have cut deeper, or in his eye. The story would have played out differently than just an afternoon of inconvenience with another scenario.

Since that day I look at people driving along the road differently. I imagine where they are going, what awaits them at their destinations. I think twice when I hear an ambulance and try to put out of my mind the reason for the lights, the sirens. My heart skips a beat when I see the parking lot filled at the funeral home a couple streets over from where we live. It's so easy to get stuck in your own little fishbowl where you deal with only that which affects your personal space. Most of those days are spent dealing with basic survival tactics, taking in what each day brings and learning how to function in that realm. Most of my days are pretty ordinary, basic, transporting my children to their various activities while at the same time there are others living out a not so ordinary day. My normal is not the same as your normal.

I recently watched the movie Lorenzo's Oil for the first time. I was struck by one scene in particular. Children were flooding the streets with uncontained excitement after being bottled up in school all day. Then the scene abruptly shifts to Lorenzo, unable to move, gagging on his own saliva. Right outside his house children were laughing and playing. The irony in it. All day, every day, there are hurts in the world, around us, maybe right next door to us. People living out "abnormal" days, weeks, months, years even while the world goes on as usual. The mail doesn't stop coming just because your life is in crisis mode. I learned this 2 years ago as I raced to the hospital to deal with my not so ordinary day.

Through what happened with my son I learned that I can endure more than I thought I could. My mind went into preservation mode as I was able to take some pictures of him as he waited in the emergency room, blood and all. I also learned that my son will go through some hard things that will strengthen him and open his eyes to the world beyond our fishbowl, which might include pain, to teach him empathy. This was one of those times.

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