Sometimes a parent just knows.
My husband demanded I hang up on the advice nurse:
“It doesn’t matter what she says, we’re going.”
My mom later told me she had never seen my husband move so fast.
We rushed our 9-month-old, Aaron, to the emergency room for high fever and extreme lethargy. Our rush ended when we hit unexpected traffic from a weekend festival. I sat in the back of the van with Aaron, listening to his breathing slow.
I tried not to cry, but I couldn’t help it.
“I need to pray.”
I leaned over Aaron and just before I shut my eyes, I saw my husband’s arm snake around the driver’s seat to reach me in the back. He held my hand tight and prayer flowed through us, incomprehensible, but given to God in the form of “please,” and “live,” and “not again.”
“Andy, I don’t know…. I don’t like this.”
“It’s really bad, he’s just… not right. This isn’t right.”
“Pull over. We have to call an ambulance.”
My husband pointed out that an ambulance wouldn’t actually get us there much faster.
“Yes, but they have things. Oxygen. Skills. CPR.”
He readily agreed.
When the ambulance arrived and the EMT let me ride in the back with Aaron, I knew Aaron would be okay.
Before that, during the drive, I knew God’s will would be done. Sometimes, though, that doesn’t bring the comfort one might expect. I know firsthand that God’s way is not always my way. That sometimes the path God has for us in this world is painful and full of sorrow. And that sometimes, the EMT won’t let you in the back of the ambulance, and that in those times, you don’t take your son home four hours later.
And that’s where my mind was as we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic and I listened to Aaron’s ragged breath and watched his eyes glaze. As I put my cool forehead against his hot one and tried to get him to focus on me, to smile, and got nothing in return.
But when we waited on the street corner for the ambulance to arrive, the cool air blowing his hair, Aaron looked around. Smiled a little. Was aware enough to question where we were. He would be fine.
Later: a catheter, a blood draw, a failed IV. My back burned from holding Aaron down while the doctors and nurses did various things to prove him healthy. We ate horrible sandwiches and gave Aaron hospital formula that made him spit up for the next 24 hours. It was miserable.
But to hold those 24 hours, now going on 48, is a beautiful thing.
The first time, the time I didn’t get to ride in the ambulance, there was no blood draw. No catheter or failed IV. We followed from behind and noticed that after the first few blocks, the ambulance turned the siren off. Then the lights. Because there would be no 24- or 48-hours later. Just prayers and pleading. Our pastor looking at me with fear and defeat: “There’s nothing I can do.” This 6’5 man of God, ebony-skinned and deep voiced, stepping back and spreading his weighty but empty hands: “You can’t ask. There’s nothing to be done.”
But this time, just two short days ago, I came home with a stunningly robust 25-pound nine-month-old squirming in my arms. I sat him down and he played, ankle bracelet and gauze still in place. A little fussy, slightly worse for the wear, but breathing. Healthy. Alive.
So no, things don’t always go my way. But faith is not a crutch and life is not always easy. And right now, Aaron is napping. His sister is playing at Grandma’s and his big brother is somewhere doing big brother things. I will gladly take their health and happiness and tantrums and tensions. Even ambulance rides to the ER. Because at the end of the day, I am confident that these three will always come back home. Perhaps a bit beaten and bloody, but alive.
Sometimes a parent just knows.
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