On Thinking You're Watching Your Child Die

There's this thing that happens whenever we enter a new phase with Collin: we remember the possibility of the worst, and we fear it.

One of our worst hospital stays.

One of our worst hospital stays.

The mean-spirited me likes to give myself a hard time about this. Pull yourself together, woman. People send their kids to school all of the time. Or: Calm down, this isn't that big of a deal.

But then the other me, the slowly growing part, the one who is learning to stand up for myself, steps in. She slides an arm around my shoulders and says, Whoa, whoa, whoa. Of course she's afraid of that. Don't you remember the things she's seen?

Namely: my child turning blue. Over and over. My child seizing violently. Over and over. My child in situation after situation that mercilessly reminded me there was nothing, nothing I could do to help him.

When you think you're watching your child die, you suddenly find yourself on the other side of a line you didn't know existed.

You may work hard to get yourself back to a healthy place. You may become productive and self-aware and happy.

But an unexpected phone call may never again feel benign. An unfamiliar situation may always crawl with terrifying possibilities.

The good news is that passing a point of no return doesn't have to be all bad.

Because you may also revel in the little joys of daily life and overflow with gratitude for the health and safety you enjoy. You may marvel at the mere existence of this resilient little person.

So yes, my phone is turned up and in my hand today. I'm a little jumpy and distracted. But I am also prone to drifting away on the thought of my son in a classroom with other kids, and I am buoyed by the miracle of that small thing.