I was flying down the highway as quickly as I could safely do it, desperate to get you home. You were crying hysterically in the backseat, dry-heaving into a bucket in your lap. Every time I heard you wretch, my chest tightened just a little more. I needed to get you home; I needed to get medicine in your system to cool your fever and relieve your distress. I wanted to cry as I listened to you sobbing in the backseat.
I was shushing you over and over, trying to get you to lie down and go back to sleep. But your eyes were unseeing and your ears were unhearing, and you were caught up in a night terror. You were screaming my name over and over, even though I was standing by your side and trying to offer you comfort. I wanted to cry as I listened to you scream in your bed.
I was watching you on the monitor as you obsessively rearranged the things in your room. As the minutes ticked by, I watched as you climbed in and out of bed, over and over, whimpering and crying as you did it. You wanted to go to sleep, but your mind just wouldn’t let you.
You were desperate for relief, and I was desperate for an explanation.
We got our answer, but it wasn’t as simple as we’d hoped. I’m not sure how long we’ll need to deal with the effects of your illness before you recover. You’ve already missed days of school, play dates, and birthday parties, and there’s no end in sight.
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You’ve been poked and prodded endlessly. I’ve held you down so doctors could draw blood and stick swabs down your throat and in your nose. You’ve begged for them to stop, and I’ve had to hold down your thrashing body so they could continue. We have both cried because of your pain and suffering, but I have not been able to end it.
It breaks my heart to know you’re in pain. It hurts to watch you struggle and suffer, to beg for an end to the tests, the restraining, and the pain. But I will continue to hold you. I will hold you as you are poked and prodded. I will hold you as you fight me, fight the doctors, fight your illness. I will hold you when the pain becomes too much. I will hold you when you want bodily comfort.
You are not alone, my sweet boy. We will figure this out like we do all things—together.
I will be beside you every step of the way. I will fight for you whenever it becomes necessary. I will fight for the care you deserve. I will fight for your chance to have a normal childhood. I will fight for the tests you need, the medications that will help you most. I will hold you in my arms, or hold your hand, or be whatever form of support you need.
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You are never alone in your suffering because your mama and daddy will be with you. We will do this together. We will face this as we face everything in our lives—as a family. I will hold you, and your father and I will hold each other, and God will hold us all. None of us are alone.
We’ll get through this together, my sweet boy. We will fight together. We will cry together. We will celebrate every victory, every step forward, together. We will mourn every missed opportunity, every undesirable test result, together. We will do it all together, as a family.
If I could bear these burdens for you, I would.
If I could be poked and prodded instead of you, I would. I would do anything to see you suffer less. But since I can’t suffer for you, I will suffer with you.
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My mother’s heart will be pierced every time your small body is pierced. My mother’s heart will break every time your illness rears its ugly head again. And my mother’s heart will hold you, and my arms will support you until you are strong enough to stand on your own.
We will suffer together, but more than that, we will be strong together. You are so strong, and I will be strong for you. Your weakness makes you strong, and your strength makes me strong. We will get through this together, sweet boy, and we will all be stronger for having endured it.