Today started out well. I actually got up, dressed each child in matching outfits, managed bows in three heads, and headed out the door without coffee, a pop tart, or milk staining my shirt. Yes, that is the barometer of a good morning!
I finally figured out how to get my kids to school and myself to work on time. Something I have struggled with all year. And with only 4 weeks left in the bible study class schedule, I am sure my boss appreciates my ability to catch on quickly.
The day went on, kids cried, noses ran, tantrums were thrown. But overall, an easy day at work.
I hit Wal – mart, ran into two ladies I knew, and chatted for a while. I handed Megan my drink to sip off of and she promptly threw it on the floor, busting off the lid and creating a huge mess for the check out lady to help me clean up.
Having been the recipient of the “please don’t ever come back here” look from the cashier, I gathered my cauldron – really, for candy on Sunday – what were you thinking? – and headed out, oblivious to the latest embarrassing thing one of my kids has done in a store.
I stopped by a friends house, admired her ability to comb her hair even though she has two small kids, and then headed over to the preschool to gather my two older daughters.
After listening to their fantastically different stories about their experience at Fall Festival, we pull into the driveway. I unload, gather backpacks and head inside.
My phone is ringing.
Normally, I would not answer it, thinking it was my husband and that I would call him back. But today, something told me to pick it up.
It was my neighbor.
In an incredibly calm voice, I thought, she told me that her son’s junior high school called and told her that they were rushing him to the hospital via ambulance because his tongue was swelling and he could not feel his right arm. She filled in some details and then asked if it would be too much of a bother for me to head to the emergency room and try to get more information for her as she hurried on her one hour commute home.
I immediately packed the girls back in my van and headed out. She is quickly becoming a dear friend to me and I adore her two boys, so there was no hesitation. No concern about three young children in an emergency room. No thoughts except, “I have to get to her son!”
We make it there in no time, and ask the desk clerk if he has arrived. He has, she says, and we can go back and see him when the school Nurse and Principal come back out from being in the “back” with him.
I sit down with my 3 extremely well behaved children, funny how they “know”, and try to dial my friend. Her cell phone beeps to tell me that she is on it and my mind immediately goes to her and what she is doing.
In envision her in her car. Rushing madly through afternoon traffic in Houston, her brows furrowed in extreme distress, the tension in her shoulders painful and unrelenting, scared to death that she will arrive too late to do something to help her son. She won’t be thinking of herself. But of him. Laying on an ambulance bed, tubes coming out of his arms, oxygen mask to his face. His blue eyes darting around doctor’s and nurses, praying that her face will be the next he sees.
I see her dialing, messing up in her haste, cursing at herself to calm down, and dialing again. Calling anyone, anywhere, just so that she can find someone who knows something. She sees calls beeping in, but can’t figure out how to click over to answer them. In her frustration, she narrowly misses the car in front of her that changed lanes.
She is driving as fast as she can without going to fast, being too out of control, drawing too much attention. “The last thing I need now is to be pulled over.” she says to herself. Her voice hollow and foreign in her fear of the unknown.
I know her arms are aching with the need to hold her son, her eyes are watering with the strain of trying to see him over the miles that lay ahead, and her ears ring with the sound of his voice asking if he can ride the bus home. Thus prompting her to stay at work longer, and therefore making her further away when he needed her so badly.
She is berating herself for not finding a job closer to home, as she has always planned and promised to do. Questioning her decision to work at all. Thinking of all of the things that she could have done differently. And knowing that in his hour of need, because of the circumstance, strangers are at his side.
I think I heard her before I saw her, her tennis shoes slapping on the linoleum floor. I turned to see her walking, fast, steady, determined to get to him, see for herself, and feel that knowledge that as long as she is there, he will be alright.
Our eyes meet and a motherly understanding connects as she walks right by me, without a word, and into the emergency room, where her son lay waiting for his mother.
I am relieved she is there and when I see his father arrive, who works at the same company his wife does, I know that my job is done. Even though I never saw him and did not sit by his side, I was there. A familiar comfort not to him… but to them.
I wait for a few minutes, and then begin to gather my things. My neighbor has a 10 year old son that will be getting off the bus to an empty house with no knowledge of what is happening, and I think someone should be there for him.
She walks out just as I am about to leave, says he seems fine and they will be running a battery of tests. I tell her her other son will be with me and head out. I load my amazingly well behaved daughters in the car and get behind the wheel.
A tear falls. And then another. And another.
Tears of empathy.
Because I know her fears, her questions, her stress. I feel her hearts palpitations, her stomach twisting, and her head pounding.
It is universal to all mother’s, I think. This ability to connect to the inner workings of other mother’s in times of great distress. The talent to relate, even when that child is no part of you.
And when she calls to tell me he is perfect and it was an allergic reaction to something yet to be determined, I feel her relief. Her voice cracking. Her shoulders dropping. Her life returning to something she understands again.
I feel another empathetic tear escape.
And I am proud to know it is there.
Just as hers is.