10 pm. The phone rings.
"Is this Derek's mother?"...
my stomache sinks, one always, always dreads
My fears are well founded it seems, "This is
Sutter Memorial, we have
your son in the Trama unit." Oh no, is he alive?
Is he alright,
is he going to be alright, what happened? "There
has been an accident."
What was he driving? Was he driving... my car
is still in the front yard. Who was with him,
how are they? Questions come faster than they
can be answered.
Answers are vauge, unsatisfying.
We fly out the door, noticing nothing but our
What.." Going through our minds. The sight of
the strong fiesty 17 year
old stretched out on a board, with his neck in
a collar and tubes
running in and out of him is sobering. He is
lucid, or nearly. He
repeats over and over the same questions, "What
time is it? Is Katie
alright? Am I OK? Really, is Katie alright? I
really like her. What
time is it? Am I grounded? Are you mad? "
The doctor comes in, first we were told that it
was 'some abraisions'...
now it seems that there is internal bleeding.
Probably a ruptured
spleen. His stomache is filled with blood and
he has a gash about a
foot long and about an inch wide on his right
calf, to the bone.
Sutured, surgery are the next words... then recovery,
Plans now change, funny how life stops on a dime
and everything shifts.
Family is thought of, but as of yet, no one is
called. We wait to
hear. Talk to the young girlfriend. She is lucid,
she says her foot
hurts, but she seems more shaken than anything.
I pray for her safety.
What do you tell a child in such a state? Knowing
it was his own
inexperience and cockiness that put him where
he is? Indestructable, he
believes himself unfallible, capable of handling
things. Then the
worries begin, a hug, and I am disolved. Decisions,
papers to sign... a
life to contemplate, gratitude for what *didn't*
happen. Gratitude for
those who invented seat-belts, for the drilling
that resulted in him
wearing it that night. Gratitude for a future
that could have
evaporated, and yet... concern.
A streetlight that the city will now bill us
for. A friends '97 car
that is now totaled. A young girl whose life
was in danger, her parents
wrath and pain. Driving with passengers on a
restricted juvenille license.
Unsafe speed. New cloths ruined... will these
Will they be reflected upon?
Will he learn anything?
A surgeon, anetheseoligist who explains in too
detail what could happen. An old nurse with no
us and him with questions. An internest with
a ready smile and excellent
bedside manner, nurses working tirelessly, professionally,
with humor and a sparkle in their eye that speaks
of thier caring...
their love of what it is they have chosen to
do with their lives.
Wonder. Will he now choose something that will
make his eyes sparkle,
will he repay all of those who have supported
Phone calls. Family members awoken from sleep.
Tears from a sister
just moved across country within the week. Grandparents
friends coming with sleepy parents who are supportive
and kind. So much
to be grateful for, so much to see in the true
interworkings of this
existance we call life. Threads what sparkle
through the mundane to
show what parts of our lives we have woven that
have mattered. Those
golden ones that hold everything else together.
distances just to come and be supportive. Will
he see it? Will he see
his family, or will only his friends matter?
How do we teach him.
Then... what now. Do we try tough love, and remove
his privaledges, do
we call it inexperience and not recklessness?
Do we make him pay for
his damages, robing him of his freedom, or did
he do that himself?
Natural consequence. Pain... will that make him
Waiting. Waiting. Friends come and we chat. Joke,
tell stories. What
else is there when there is an under current
of fear, of 'that could be
me'... Youth sobered, grateful that it wasn't
worse. Finally the doctor
comes back. Too soon, he is an hour too soon...
more instant dread.
Comforting words from a very straightforward
surgeon. They can't be
emotional. Fixing bodies is what they do, like
fixing cars, or
repairing elelctrical faults. Technical terms,
a lifetime of elbows
length gloves of other peoples blood. Can he
know of my gratitude for
his years of study, for his dedication to his
craft, that he can do what
I am helpless to do? He will be paid, and yet...
there is something
magical about all of it, mysterious and awesome.
The news is good. He
will be fine. They had to remove the spleen,
infection is now a much
greater risk, a lifetime of innoculations and
pnenomia fear. Still, he
is alive and limpid, coming out feisty.
We visit with him. He is thirsty.
Onery. Loving, fearful, grateful, tender.
He kisses my hand and apologizes. I am flooded
and love for him. He is like a little boy. My
little boy. He thanks
his friends for coming, apologizes for worring
them. They let another
come in. There is a heart monitor attatched to
his right arm, on his
index finger is a red light... his friend enters,
and he lifts up his
finger... touches Jeremy's belly... "ET phone
He is going to be alright.
Marsha Steed 8/10/2000