Thursday, December 08, 2005

Children Shouldn't Need Wheelchairs

I've just spent three days in the rarefied, muffled world of a children's hospital.

Casual conversations don't spring up in the clinic waiting room. The adults are too nervous. I found myself looking around the waiting room, wondering--is his kid sicker than mine? Maybe her kid isn't as sick. What kind of news are they waiting for? Will that child ever be well?

There is no feeling quite as empty as when you have to turn away from your helpless, half-naked baby and leave her to a room full of strangers. They are kind-eyed professionals, they're going to do their jobs and hopefully help her. But they are strangers. And she's so little.

The funny thing is, the kids don't seem fazed by it all. They play. They run around the waiting room, and find ways to fall off the safe equipment. A little girl with joints that didn't seem to work right figured out how to slide down a tiny hand rail. A toddler with a leg brace stared at the fish in the tank. They are living in the moment, and they are a lesson to us all. Time should be lived in the moment.

I savoured those moments, and wrote like mad in the hour I had to wait alone on Tuesday. And I read. Anything that could take me away from the ticking of the clock on the wall. Barbara Kingsolver was too involved--I couldn't get myself into her world without a bit more energy than I had. Believe it or not, Don Delillo was just the ticket. 'White Noise'.

I'll be back on track soon, because those strangers did their jobs just perfectly and everything inside my little one's body is going to stay where it is for the time being.


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