A Painful Reminder

At around 1:15 am this past Sunday morning, a nurse from the children’s hospital removed the IV drip that was pumping fluids into my dehydrated and hypoglycemic little boy. After a harrowing 24 hours comforting my 3 year old stricken with a severe gastrointestinal virus, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. His condition was improving and, after another day in the hospital for monitoring, he was released. Four days later, he is almost back to his normal self. I nearly cried when he begged for pancakes this morning.

While I watched the nurse remove the IV tube from my son’s little hand, I later learned that a tragedy was unfolding at that very moment only a few miles away. A repeat drunk driver, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.20%, slammed his truck into a car carrying four high school girls. One of the girls, 14 year old Ashton Sweet, was left brain dead while another girl remains in critical condition. At the request of her grief-stricken parents, Ashton Sweet was kept alive on life support until six of her organs were donated.

Reading about the loss of this beautiful young girl struck something deep within me. At 1:15 am on Sunday morning, I was feeling a sense of relief, renewed optimism, and nothing short of grateful for the improved health of my little boy. I distinctly remember looking at the glowing clock in the hospital room so I could etch that moment in time within my mind forever. I could finally breathe again. But now I know that as I was about to fall back asleep on the hospital cot next to my son, able to sleep more deeply and comfortably with the unquestionable knowledge that he was going to be OK, a family across town was about to wake up to the most horrible news that any parent could possibly receive.

Someone told the Dude the other day that you haven’t really experienced the lows of parenting until your child ends up in the hospital. The thing is, I knew that my little Monkey was going to leave the hospital eventually. I knew he was no longer in danger once the nurses started the IV drip. He was going to be OK. It’s the not knowing that is undoubtedly one of the ultimate lows of parenting. It’s when you can’t bring your child home from the hospital that is undoubtedly the lowest form of human suffering. And it’s those stories that are painful reminders for the rest of us that while parenting has it’s challenging moments, each moment – good, bad, and everything in between – is truly a gift that is a tragedy in itself to take for granted.