The Gift of Receiving

It’s been a really long time since I wrote anything . I’m afraid I allowed myself to get distracted and then I got swept up in the Christmas whirlwind and now here we are with 2013 almost over and I haven’t written anything for weeks.

That said, I’m going to retrace my steps and start by writing about the incident that distracted me in the first place…

To provide some context, I had just come off a 5-day personal development course that involved 12 or 13-hour days which invariably lasted until late at night or early in the morning.  Given that I like to be in my flannel pyjamas by 10, it was quite miraculous that I stayed present and even awake for the whole thing.

Anyway, my planned recuperation was thwarted when SJ woke up the next day complaining of stomach ache.  It didn’t come as a huge surprise as there were all kinds of flus and bugs going round.

He spent the day looking pale, listless and uncomfortable, until suddenly at about 8 o’clock in the evening he doubled over, crying in pain.  Now this is the boy who broke three ribs playing rugby and didn’t mention it for a week.  He’s not a fusspot.

After an hour or so, during which it became clear that the pain was not subsiding I drove him out of town and down to a local rural hospital.  I didn’t want to risk waiting in one of our city hospitals for hours while his appendix burst, so heading for this sleepy town where 2 emergency patients is considered a rush seemed like a wholly satisfactory solution.

Except that they did all the tests, decided that they thought he had appendicitis and transferred him back into the city … where we waited until his appendix ruptured.

The boy is just like his father!  While writhing in pain he resisted all my attempts to comfort him – no hugs, no back rubs, no hair stroking; in fact he got furious if I even tried to talk to him.  Clearly he was a cat in another life, and if we could have just found him a warm, dark corner to retreat to in solitude, I think that would have been perfect for him.

As a mother it was the hardest thing in the world to be so helpless and so unneeded.

As I sat there in my state of maternal paralysis, I could hear the young woman in the next bed crying pitifully.   I so wanted to go and comfort her, but the curtains were firmly closed and I wasn’t sure where lies the boundary between loving concern and creepy stalking.

But then, as we sat in the diagnostic imaging department a young lady joined us in the waiting room who I thought might possibly be our neighbour.  SJ went in for his ultrasound and she started to cry again, confirming my suspicion.  I went over and asked her if she would like a hand to hold, or if she would like the curtain closed around her.  “No thanks”, she replied, so I told her that if it was okay I would just stay right there for a minute, telling her to please let me know if she wanted me to go away.  She cried and cried and she gradually got comfortable enough to allow me to rub her back and whisper encouragements.

Hubby and I had secretly speculated that she might be a student in town with no family close by, so when I asked if there was anyone we could call for her I was flabbergasted when she said “my husband”.    Oh the terrible judgements that sprung to mind until it occurred to us that she might have simply informed him that she was going to get something checked out, and that he could have no idea of her current plight.  We’re hoping he showed up soon after we gave him the word.

She kept saying “don’t worry about me,  you have your son to comfort”, but I told her just to worry about herself; hubby was there to stand around in a show of aloof, manly solidarity for SJ .     I truly hope it was helpful to her to have someone there for a short time, at least until she was taken away for her own appointment.

It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized she had given me a beautiful gift.  Just when I was upset and frustrated at being unable to comfort my son, she gave me someone to care for.

So, to the unknown girl in A14 – thank-you.  You have no idea what a gift you give when you are able to receive.

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