GUEST BLOGGER: SUSAN
Trying to keep on my toes as I deal simultaneously with potty training, chronically ill children and a graduating Senior, all while attempting to breathe through my nose and knit a sweater.
Waiting in the E.R. is boring. Most of the time when I take my 4-year-old son we don't have to wait. It's a small sort of blessing; my son’s rare metabolic condition usually means we are zipped through triage straight to treatment. However, about a year ago I found myself in the E.R., waiting for my son to be seen- as a matter of caution, not emergency.
On that particular E.R. visit the only other occupants of the waiting room were two brothers, one about 16- 17 years old and the other about 12. They caught my attention, not only because they were there without adults, but because the older brother looked incredibly green and was sitting with his head bowed, as still as a statue. I half expected him to faint. The younger brother radiated nervous energy and, though vibrating, kept to his seat.
After about 20 minutes of utter silence a large man, an older version of the brothers, entered the waiting room. He looked muscular and tough and particularly grim. In fact he looked like the kind of man that Robin in the movie 6 Days 7 Nights said you could, "send them out in the woods with a q-tip and a pocket knife and they build you a shopping mall."
The waiting room was small; there was no way I could avoid witnessing what passed next. The man went and sat in front of the older boy, placing himself so that their knees touched. The man was silent for a moment and then said, "Son, first I want you to know that it is serious, but your brother is going to be okay." The older boy didn't move. The man paused, then said gently, "Look at me." The boy slowly raised his eyes.
"I want you to know that it wasn't your fault." At that the older boy seemed to start breathing for the first time all evening. The man continued, "I'm sorry if I appeared angry, I was really worried about getting here in time- but I was not angry with you. These kind of things just happen."
At this point I remember them hugging, but in retrospect the hugging may be a wishful embellishment of my imagination. They probably simply slapped each other on the back. I do remember vividly how the older brother’s face was transformed with relief, and how the younger brother immediately relaxed out of vibration-mode.
The three left to visit their injured family member, and my son was called for his chest x-ray. I never ran into the boys or their father again, nor did I ever hear the whole story.
The experience made me ponder how my face often looks grim when I'm worried and how my own children sometimes misinterpret that. I marveled at what a great dad this man appeared to be; he communicated his love through eye contact, physical contact, and loving words. That's what everyone waiting in any E.R. needs. In fact, that's simply what every child needs from their parents, every day.