The first thing I need to do is offer up a great big group hug to all of you ravishingly pretty people who commented and emailed and kept my little family in your thoughts when I so rudely up and announced I needed to go silent for a while. I’m not sure what I thought was going to happen when I did that—I wasn’t really thinking about the possible reaction, only that I needed to get away from the computer—but I was pleasantly overwhelmed by how kind and patient you’ve all been. So thank you for that, so much.
The second thing I need to do is explain that I am often guilty of what we refer to as “magical thinking” tendencies. As in: As long as I don’t say this thing out loud, it isn’t true. Or: If I say this thing out loud, it will JINX IT. No need to point out how utterly crazypants that is, because I’m well aware, believe me. But I’m just laying it out for you, by way of explanation. Sometimes this is how I think.
That’s what happened two weeks ago. I couldn’t say what was true, because it was too scary; and I couldn’t say what I hoped, because saying it might mess it up.
Crazy, I know. In my defense, I was really, really scared.
So. You know how in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell needs everyone to believe in fairies so she can continue to exist? You have to assert your belief, make it central to your thoughts, and it’s what will save her? Honestly, I’ve always found that scene kind of horrible. I mean, I guess it’s supposed to be empowering for little kids, to feel like they’re helping? But the flip side is that it’s an awfully big burden to place on someone, telling them that THEIR THOUGHTS are the difference between life and death for someone else. I don’t know about you, but I often have a bit of trouble wrangling my thoughts. And that’s a big responsibility. (Like, whoa.)
Regardless. Right now I’m doing my own version of believing in fairies with all my heart.
Chickadee spent the last two weeks in the hospital. I have never seen either of my children so sick, nor spent so much time trying to shove the “what ifs” out of my head.
Back in the wake of Monkey’s seizure and the dark days in which I quietly wrestled with the fear that he might have a brain tumor, Monkey was okay. I mean, something was wrong, and he obviously wasn’t running at 100%, but he had no idea how worried we were, or how sick he might be. That, I realize now, was an immeasurable blessing.
There are no words for watching your child wrestle with so much pain, every day, every hour, and then having to stand by helplessly while she sobs and asks over and over, “What’s wrong with me?” Doctors, I’ve learned, work at a pace best described as “maddeningly slow,” and answers are hard to come by when no one realizes that YOUR BABY is the most important thing in the world. (How rude. I mean, really.)
I could not say “she’s going to be okay,” because we didn’t know if she was. And I couldn’t say “we don’t know if she’s going to be okay” because saying that meant giving voice to what I was spending so much of my energy trying to tamp down and suppress.
I hope you’ll forgive me those two weeks of silence. I spent them at the hospital; here at home trying to love on Monkey and soothe his fears and keep things as normal for him as possible; cleaning Chickadee’s room from top to bottom because it made it feel like I was doing something for her; and curled up with Otto, crying (or trying not to), telling him to tell me again, TELL ME AGAIN SHE’S COMING HOME.
Yesterday she was discharged, and I stocked the freezer with ice cream and the fridge with pudding and the pantry with cookies and then I brought her home. She’s lost a lot of weight and it hurts to look at the jutting angles of all those bones that should be under more padding.
She is tired and uncertain and we all know she’s still sick, yes, but she smiles (oh how I have missed that smile) and folds into my lap and lets me smell her hair and I can whisper, “It’s okay, honey. We’re here. We’re getting through this.”
Maybe I still can’t give voice to the specifics (and part of me thinks it’s probably best if I don’t, anyway) but at least now—having slept next to her last night, woken a dozen times just to look at her in the dark and listen to her breathe—I can say that I know she’s going to be well again. Not as quickly as I’d like, of course, but I believe she’s going to be okay.
Even more than I believe in fairies, I believe my girl is strong and brave. That’s what we’re all going to focus on for now.