As I sat in the Emergency Room with my 6 year old son, I pulled his feverish body close to mine and rubbed my hands in his hair.
Not exactly the way I planned to spend Father’s Day.
My son had been feeling badly most of the weekend. In our home, the squeaky wheel gets the most oil and, well, he’s not squeaky. E-ver. He’s so unassuming and easy-going that by the time I realized he was really sick, his temperature was 103.8 and his throat was so swollen he could hardly swallow. He needed antibiotics and, of course, the only thing open was the ER.
And so, I left my hubby home with a napping toddler and an 8 year old to answer his ringing bell.
As we waited, I held my son’s small hand in mine. I traced his jaw line with my finger and noticed a couple of new freckles. I watched his dark lashes grace his cheek and the rhythm of his breathing.
Can I just say that I enjoyed every single minute of it? Not that he was sick or that we were sitting and waiting, but just the quiet of the moment, to take him in.
How did he get to be so big? My chubby toddler with curls was long gone.
Three elderly people walked in and sat across from us. The husband escorted his frail wife in front of us to address the gash on her forehead.
They left a sweet 73 year old lady in the waiting room, named Emma.
She watched me stroke my son’s head. We started chatting. She was visiting her sister and brother-in-law from Ohio. Her sister was very ill with Alzheimer’s and she wanted to see her while she still remembered. She shared that it was hard watching her sister lose her independence and struggle with daily activities. Just a few minutes before she had fallen and cut her head on the dishwasher.
Emma told me she lost her own husband just six months ago, after 43 years of marriage. ”I don’t like living alone. It’s hard.” She shared that she had eleven children- ten sons and one daughter. Her daughter died when she was 36 years old with a brain tumor. She told me about her new job and how she was trying to live a full life. She told me her deceased husband’s favorite joke and smiled kindly at my son.
There was nothing to pity about Emma. She had a sparkle in her eye and a beautiful smile.
We were still talking when my son’s name was called. She stopped me and said softly, “That was my husband’s name, too.”
And something in that moment, made me want time to stand still. And I think it did. Just for a minute. Long enough for me to realize that it doesn’t stop.
But I should.
Because every day my kids are getting older. My parents are aging and one day I will be old. I might be alone, like Emma. And I want my eyes to sparkle because I have lived well.
I think my intuitive son sensed something about that moment. He squeezed my hand and once we were settled in another room, climbed into my lap.
“Mom, I don’t have to get married and move out one day. I can live with you forever, okay?”
“Forever?” I asked.
“Well, maybe me and my wife can move in with you.”
I hugged him and whispered to myself, “Stay six all day, okay?”
Time stood still and I noticed.