I wrote this one for Coos

6 juillet 2009

A long time ago. It had just happened.

I can't believe I never shared this with you. I guess I'm not all that daring after all. 

I hope this is OK. I have no idea really, of what it was like for you. I could only guess from over the arms of the sea.
Ain't your boy strong.

First there's a shock. An invisible shift, your heart freezes for eternity  yet when you wake up not a second had passed. Then you move, quick, there's no time to think, no space for hesitations. Adrenaline shoots your veines and takes over as you rush over to the hospital. Between these two moments, the shock and the move, you can't rely but on what you know, who you are, your primary instincts as a mother.

It's hard to come down. 

So strong was the urgency, so powerful the adrenaline, your heart beating so fast it hurt. But you only notice it now, the pain, the powerful wave of exhaustion, of relief. The surprise that it's over. Your child's been taken away, away from you, in another room and you're sitting on a chair in the hallway.

There's paperwork, there's waiting. 

For the doctor, the nurse, for someone to tell you it's over, it's OK, rest tranquille mother of a child. Your memory won't keep these images of white blouses hurrying around him in a purposeful silence. Only a glance suffises to tell — they've seen so much already, this is nothing. They've seen enough yet no time must be lost. You and them know that he can't breathe, he could but a minute ago but now if oxygen doesn't rush soon he'll die. 

It only takes a shot. It only takes ten seconds, less than it took to eat that cracker. In a swift move, the needle is in and out, you child's eyes flutter and he falls asleep, breathing, saved.

What could he understand? Of what happened to him, what will he remember? Of the consequences, what can you explain?

You come home and raid your cupboards, plastic bag in hand, you come home angry at yourself and at the universe and rid it of any susbtance that could harm him again.

The next day, you keep all your children home. As if the world could hurt them all now, your daring children that only a forthnight ago peered over an Irish cliff, by the tormented sea. You need them close, withing an arm's touch. Already you're so far ahead, planning school, meals, shopping lists. Because it's not over, it's only starting. The industry is so keen on surprising mixes, death could be anywhere, lurking around an ingredient list. 

You're still coming down but as you count, one, two, three, it's easier to let air in.

(My parents gave me these moments. Twice (and twice more). 
For Isa, twice, if not two times twice. 
For Fred, twice (I'm adding the surgery to the penicillin), and now over and over and over… 
Boy, ain't we strong gals. Ain't I lucky my kids are fine. It won't ever end, this worrying over their safety. Once a parent, always a parent.
I can forgive mine now I think. I understand their equation of safety over freedom. But I hope I can trust my children more and let them have both.


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