Our almost five year old son is normally a unnaturally healthy young man. In most situations he can survive another threat of any nasty bug that hits his sitters home with the grace of someone whose immune system is in advanced stages of perfection. However, this past Sunday at a Superbowl party at the local VFW, he came in contact with one that he could not fight off on his own.
By the time Super Tuesday rolled around he could not keep water down, even with the use of Phenergan liquid and brown rice broth. In our concern, we contacted his personal doctor who directed us to immediately take him to the emergency room in the local hospital. My husband rushed to the sitters, and took him there as I was several cities away and it would take me, legally, two hours to get to him.
Just as a side note: It took me less than an hour that day to arrive at the hospital. When I rushed into the room, he beamed his smile in my direction and filled me in on what had already transpired. His Daddy by his side, he said "Why do you look worried? It's Daddy's turn..." I had to smile. He has such a simplistic way of looking at things, and in that, we see his wisdom.
After about an hour of sitting and waiting to make sure the extra medications would help him fight this off, we heard the unmistakable sounds of an ambulance arriving. As I was still in scrubs, I was asked to help in the transference of the inflicted into the room where he would be examined. I hastily tried to explain that I have no medical training and was in no position to administer any type of medical assistance. I was still urged down the hall to the waiting opened doors of the ER.
The gentleman had a self inflicted wound to his chest and the outlook was not good. No one was talking to him. They talked amongst themselves in the normal medical lingo that most of us struggle through and steadfastly would not look down on the gurney at this man.
I looked down at him as we were rushing to the exam room and caught his eye, then greeted him. I asked his name, age, how he came to be where he was at that time. I asked about his family, about pets. That was quite a long hallway and I felt I knew the basics about him by the time we got him settled into the room that the medical staff soon vacated. When I finally looked up, out of the depths of those desperate, deep brown eyes, I realized that we were alone save for the nurse prepping him for his procedure. Deep inside, I cried out for his safety and for the release of this fear that bound him.
While walking back to my son's room, a single thought repeated itself frequently. "Do not leave him..." I kept answering that thought with, I am not. I am heading to his room now. My husband took one look at me and wryly smiled, knowing my inner turmoil. My son said "Go back. He needs you, too..."
As I struggled with the idea to return to the man, as opposed to staying with our son, our son hopped off the bed and took my hand. He walked down the hall, around the corner, down another hall and into the man's room. I did not tell him where to go, neither did I tell him it was a man that I had talked to. No one stopped us as we took that walk. We passed two nurses and the doctor who was treating our son. We passed two nursing stations, and still no one stopped us.
I stood in the curtain-way and watched my son go to the bed and reach down to pick up the man's hand as it hung over the side of the bed. Startled, he looked up and saw me standing there. I then explained that our son was there for treatment also, and that he wanted to see the man. Tears glistened in the man's eyes and he touched our son's face so gently, I knew him to have children of his own.
The two "men" talked for a bit, and soon my husband was walking down the hall searching us out. Our son was being released as the doctor had seen to him while I was helping out the ER staff, and he was being sent home. The man understood and thanked us for taking the time to sit with him. He said he felt like no one was there to help him and he wanted to go home.
Our son stopped in the curtain-way, turned around and walked back up to the gentleman. He again took his hand and said "When you get back home, please tell Jerome you will never leave again. You tell him that you are there to stay. He does not like being alone..."
The man positively crumbled. I could actually see him shrink in stature and deflate within himself. He looked up at me and asked "Who is this little man?"
What we had no clue of knowing was that while the Father was rushed to the same hospital that we were in, his son was taken to the children's hospital in Indianapolis. Apparently what had happened was that they were "practicing" a dangerous "sport" and the son was mortally wounded. The father had not yet been told of his son's fate. After the helicopter came to take his son, the father was so distressed that he wounded himself in the same manner that his son was wounded. This took only seconds as no one had yet removed the weapon in question.
And on the news this morning, was the telling of the fathers fate as well.