[I wrote this a year ago about an Angel I met in a children’s cancer ward. Or maybe just a very wise little girl. But I prefer to think of her as an Angel. Its a Free Write, but it’s true.]
I woke up this morning as I always do — in pain so harsh it makes it hard to breathe. I have three herniated discs in my lower spine. Fibromyalgia. My knees have been locking up on me and I’ve had a pinched nerve that has rendered my left arm almost useless for over five weeks.
My son is in my bed, which happens more often than not. ACS (Children’s Services in NYC) has given him PTSD and the nightmares are bad enough that he comes into my room in the middle of the night.
My middle cat, Nikita, is having a bloody discharge, sometimes cloudy yellow, that is leaving stains everywhere. Worse, I can’t afford a vet. I tried all of the free vet services, and none were able to help. I’m going to have to throw out what little self-esteem and pride I have and try GoFundMe.
My favorite game, Titan Empires, has had an update. I’ve got two accounts and had just started one for my son. This new update resulted in the game crashing during three attacks yesterday. Today, it crashed during a war attack for my main character, leaving me with 0% on an easy 100% win. My son’s account took the Titanite (required to upgrade Titans, who help with your attacks) for an upgrade three times but didn’t do the upgrade.
We’d missed lunch with my grandmother, who is my best friend and always has been, along with being a mom and a grandmother, on Monday due to my son throwing up and having an upset stomach. The lunch was to be a one-week – early Happy 88th Birthday with my aunt and uncle who don’t yet live full-time in NYC and we’re leaving the next day. Tuesday we’d gone to the New York Aquarium, and today, Wednesday, my son had his stomach ache back.
We had a home visit and we’ll have another Friday morning, despite everyone agreeing that being crippled and asking for help was not child abuse or neglect. The damage to my son, my family, and to me has already been done. Lesson learned: never ask Children’s Services for help because you’re physically unable to clean. They did nothing for years despite overwhelming proof that my son was being abused by his father and father’s girlfriends. Why would they help a non-abusive, non-neglectful parent?
As I went to the bathroom for a cigarette, I thought back to when I was first diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was 20, but my birth date had been written wrong and I was sent to the children’s cancer ward.
I sat on an uncomfortable chair and tried not to look around. The parents with that hollow look, watching their child die and not being able to do anything about it. The thing about losing a child is that it goes against Nature. Parents are supposed to die first and while it’s sad, it’s the Natural Order of things.
Then She sat next to me. It bothers me that I can’t remember Her name, but I will always remember Her.
“Hi,” She said, this little girl attached to a metal pole with wheels. The pole held bags of liquid which were attached to tubes leading to needles in her veins.
I nodded a hello, gripping my latest test results in my sweaty hands.
“You’re new,” She observed.
She coughed a little laugh. She was barely four feet tall, and probably didn’t weigh more than 50 pounds. Her hair was gone, but She wasn’t wearing a scarf around Her head.
“I know everyone here. You’re too young to be a parent, you don’t have that Family Member Look, so you must be a patient.” She went on to tell me that She was eight and the couple nervously watching us were Her parents. Her brother was somewhere, wandering the hospital hallways.
Her parents came over. “Sweetie, don’t you think you should get back in bed?” Her mom asked.
“Come on, I’ll carry you,” Her father offered. They looked like they hadn’t slept in years.
She bargained for five minutes with me. They returned to their seats, never taking their eyes off of Her. Or me.
“No offense, but you do look tired,” I said quietly.
She gave a small smile. “I’m exhausted all the time. But you look like you could use a friend.”
The next few minutes flew by. She told me how She was so tired, that She’d been in and out of hospitals since two years of age. She said She held on for Her parents, who wouldn’t be able to handle Her being gone. How Her brother loved and hated Her: loved Her when She was healthy; hated Her for being sick, taking all of their parents attention, then hated himself. She spoke like someone years older than eight. Every Doctor or Nurse who walked by received a greeting by name. But as She spoke She seemed to lose substance until a nurse came over and said She needed to go back to Her room.
“Chemo,” She said, rolling her eyes. “I wish they’d stop.”
“Now, honey, you don’t mean that,” said the nurse, helping Her up and taking hold of the metal pole.
“You’ll be okay,” were Her parting words.
I had to turn in my seat to watch Her walk back to Her room. She was insisting on walking by Herself.
The sun was bright thru the hospital windows and while it might have been a trick of the light, to this day I swear She had a beautiful pair of white feathered Angel wings on Her back.
I blinked, and She was gone.
I was called in soon after, the age mistake corrected, and I was sent to the adult cancer ward.
Two days later I went back to the children’s ward. Her parents weren’t there. I asked some of the Doctors and Nurses if I could visit Her and received confused looks. Nobody had been there with that name recently. Thinking I’d gotten Her name wrong, I described Her. Unfortunately, that description fit most of the children there.
I left, hearing Her say, “You’ll be okay.”
And I was.
A few years of cancer treatments and numerous hospital visits and I got a clean bill of health. My eyebrows will never grow in properly, my hair is very thin, and I have a desperate fear of feeling my bones after having lost so much weight. I also proved the doctors wrong by giving birth to my son — I had been told I would never have children.
So, I may have left the Nair on my tender areas a bit too long, and I may be in constant physical pain, and my son may be scarred for life by Children’s Services, and my cat may be sick. But I’ll get the money for the vet. I’ll put my son back together. My tender area will heal up. And maybe Titans will fix the bugs or maybe I’ll find a new game.
We’ll see my grandmother for her 88th Birthday this Monday. And we’ll get thru the home visit and hopefully won’t have to have someone court ordered to stay in our house every day (again).
Either way, as an Angel once told me, “You’ll be okay.”
I will. I’ll be okay.
Continue reading “Sometimes You Need To Take A Step Back”