Monday, April 13, 2009


It's been 28 days straight at work. I'm tired & I am chronically lazy, thus I share an old journal post. It is the beginning of a story. Over time, I will tell it to completion. It's not funny, not even a little bit. But sometimes, that's okay too.


Tuesday, December 30th, 2003

I was watching "The Horse Whisperer" tonight. I had been wanting to see it for a long time but had never gotten around to it. When the movie begins, there is a scene after the girls accident, when she is laying in the hospital, her leg partially amputated. The girls Mother is ordering the Nurse's around. You can tell that she is about to lose control and hanging on by a very thin thread.

John looked at me and said that the Mother in the movie reminded him of me, when Colton was sick and in the hospital. Right at that moment, I had an epiphany. I realized with utter clarity that when a Mother is faced with her child being sick or injured, in pain, they simply cannot begin to handle their own lack of control over it.

It's not something they sort through in that moment. It's not something they understand themselves. They don't rationalize what their own brain is doing to compensate for not being able to make their child well or pain free.

What happens is that without thinking, they grasp at every small thing they can control. The childs medication needs. A drink of water. Checking to make sure the I.V. is still dripping. Asking the Nurse and Doctor a hundred questions. Tucking blankets and fluffing pillows.

There are a million things that a Mother will do to keep herself believing that she has control of the situation. To cacoon herself from the horror of watching their child go through some hellish illness or injury and not being able to take their place.

As I was having this epiphany, Kendall's friend says, "If I were that Momma, I'd be crying so hard." I only responded with, "You would be surprised, Sunny. It's actually quite rare that you cry in those first moments."

And it is. Rare. I think at times that people ask themselves what they would do in this situation or that one. How would I react? It's natural to give themselves worst case scenarios and plan out reactions to them, all in the name of being prepared in case the situation were ever to happen.

We feel safer when we do that. Like by thinking about it, planning for it, we can somehow anesthize ourselves to the pain we know would come along with the situation.

I relate it to terminal cancer. I've often thought that to lose someone to cancer, although emotionally and mentally draining, would be easier than losing them in an abrupt way, like a car accident. You have time within a terminal illness to grieve preemenintly. You have time to think about life without that person. You have time to say goodbye.

The reality of it is that there is no preparing for a childs illness or injury. You can assume and suppose every possible thing that could happen at some unknown date in the distant future. You can soothe yourself with thinking you would know how you would deal with it. You won't. You can't.

Life does not come with a crystal ball and if it did, would you really have the nerve to take a long look into it? What I can share with you is this: Everyone is different. How they handle tough situations, what emotions they can mute and what one's will refuse to be silenced. You will only have the answers if or when it happens to you.

In the first moments of a child's critical illness or injury, you may hear a whooshing noise that turns into thunderous cacophony. You fidget, wipe sweaty palms over your jeans. You may tug at your hair, fingers raking through the strands until they are as knotted as your stomach. You could pace back and forth, unable to remain in one place for long.

Biting your lips and blinking back tears, you fight for each and every breath. You long to clap your hands over your ears, just as you did as a child, blocking out the words that make a dream turn into a nightmare. You argue. You demand more tests be done. You may swear and rage and finally, slump into a chair, weak from the emotion and thoughts battling for supremacy.

And then.. your brain usually goes into a state of shock. It numbs you to the devastation. The confusion, pain and sadness. You can feel a sense of icy control. Everything inside of you stills until you can hear the steady beat of your own heart. One thought congeals and it is, "What can I do to make this better?"

Therein lies the need for control over what is controllable. The need to fill each moment with the mundane, the quest for answers so that you are not forced to realize that the life you brought into this world can be taken back.


Girl Interrupted said...

That was a superb piece of writing, P Mama. I totally felt your pain and anxiety, even though I don't have a clue what it actually feels like.

I hope that everything went well in your case and that Colton is OK now.


Ps: That does it, I'm NEVER having children :P

otherworldlyone said...

Very moving...and true.

zelzee said...

There is not a right or wrong way to deal with the fear over a child's illness. As a parent you will try to 'fix'it......and sometimes you can't.
I saw that numerous times at the cancer center when I was going for treatments. To see the little ones come in for chemo (with moms & dads that were trying so hard to hide their fears) was so hard for me to watch.....
Broke my heart.

Stephanie said...

I know exactly what this feels like. I haven't been able to put it into words, but you spelled it out to the letter. Very well done; this was great to read.

Prunella Jones said...

Great writing! I hope all is well now.

Phat Mama said...

Thanks y'all for the kind thoughts and concern. Yes, rebel boy is mostly okay now, and I will tell more of the story as time goes by but I noticed that the more serious posts don't get as many comments! lolol

Anyway, a funny one coming - I think. See y'all over on your blogs. :)