To All the Parents of Sick Children, I See You
To the parents in the waiting room,
Everything about you screams “worried.” You sit there with so many unanswered questions; you’re not sure if keeping busy via mobile device or pacing the halls is the right thing to do. The lump in your throat seems to grow with every second. Swallowing, blinking, breathing aren’t coming natural. You have to remind yourself of these necessary functions. Seconds seem like minutes. Minutes seem like hours. Nothing in the world matters at this moment but your child behind those swinging doors. Oh the frustration, the fear… I see you.
To the mom at the grocery store,
Your cart is as heavy as the burden you carry. Your cheek bones, skin and bags under your eyes continue to give way to gravity. Exhaustion is part of your daily routine. The stress has aged you in ways you never thought possible. Frustration rings true as you subconsciously slam each item at the checkout stand. The hole in your heart is much larger than most people know… I see you.
To the guy hunched over at the end of the bar,
Nobody understands the guilt you carry. You’re supposed to be “the dad,” the safety net, the superhero, the savior, the protector of all evil! Part of you feels like a failure; part of you feels helpless. The pressure at work to perform and provide is your only outlet for recuperating the failed mission of fatherhood. It seems as if you have no place else to go, so you’re washing down yesterday’s (and tomorrow’s) medical bills and mishaps one sip at a time. I don’t judge you… I see you.
To the dad in line at the pharmacy,
You’re impatiently waiting for your number to be called, but the laundry-list of medication always seems to take longer than expected. As you step forward and swipe your medical card, reality smacks you in the face with every bar scan. The green numbers flashing on the register are a subtle reminder this battle is far from over. The nice man behind the counter is about to speak before you cut him off — no need for consultation as this marks your fourth trip in three weeks. Yes, you’re that dad. I see you.
To the woman in line at the coffee shop,
You fake a smile to the child in front you hanging onto the legs of her mother. You’re not mad. I wouldn’t even say you’re jealous. The beat-down of hospital life, medical jargon and appointments have simply shortened your fuse. Instead of hearing the little girl in front of you hum a tune to the latest Disney movie, your internal alarm clock kicks in, so you look at your watch to see if meds were given on time. Even on your break, there’s no real escape. As you step up to pay, the barista asks for your rewards number. Out of habit, medical record number #830876 falls off your lips and you apologetically correct yourself. Sigh… I see you.
To all parents of sick children,
Your courage and determination doesn’t go unnoticed. You unintentionally inspire through empathy and unconditional love. You pledge an unnamed fraternity by force, an unspoken bond of some sort. When you pass through the halls, you don’t ask questions and rarely make eye contact. No words exchanged. You nod out of respect and carry on with your own battle. The nod or half smile has several meanings — mostly empathy. In some odd way, it’s comforting, and heartfelt, and beautiful.
To all the parents… I not only see you, I am you.