Emergency Room: Slice of Life 3/31 #sol16

slice of life

By now, I know he’s going to be okay but I’m still running because he expects me to be the kind of mom who runs from the car to the emergency room. He can’t see me, but my husband is watching out the door and narrating my movements, so I run.

He is stretched out on the gurney. His hand covers his face, blocking the fluorescent light from his eyes. He lifts his fingers when I come in.

His eyes are bloodshot, and they fill with tears when they see me. He closes them to try to hide.

And then we both do it. Exhale the breaths we’ve been holding. I didn’t even realize I was holding my breath.

His body deflates, but it’s not a bad thing. It’s the relief that comes when your mom shows up and you can give in and give up. I’m forty-three, and it’s the relief I still feel when my mom comes into the room.

Oh good. Here she is. She’ll take care of things. She knows what to do. I’m going to be okay.


I don’t have the chance to speak first.

“Okay, okay, Mom,” he says, irritated. “You can calm down now.”

He’s been imagining me driving here from work just as I’ve been imagining him strapped to the stretcher, loaded into the ambulance, driven to the E.R.

“Did you drive fast?” he asks. His voice is groggy, slow.

“I don’t even want to tell you how fast I drove.”

I step closer and sit in the chair my husband has just vacated.

I reach for him, but he shakes his head and then groans.

“Not yet,” he says.

I can wait.


I place my hands on the metal rail. I inch them closer onto the gurney. Soon my nail is touching the fabric of his sleeve. I try the lightest pressure of fingertip to shoulder. He opens one eye to look at me but doesn’t say anything. I take that as permission and grip his shoulder. He doesn’t ask me to move away.

He breathes. I breathe.

Slowly he lowers his arm until his elbow is resting on my arm. Slowly he stretches so that his entire arm is supported by mine.

13 responses to “Emergency Room: Slice of Life 3/31 #sol16”

  1. What a great slice of a stressful moment. I love the line about trying the lightest pressure and then taking it as permission. I found myself exhaling as you all did. Breathing when you did. Thank you for sharing!

  2. So frightening when your child is in danger. “He breathes. I breathe.” That shared breath. The shared life.

  3. the beginning scene was so captivating. wow! your amazing writing just slowed down the pace of such a frantic moment capturing all of the feeling. I want to hear more now…part 2 tomorrow?

  4. I love so much about this post: the way your breaths thread through the piece, the way you crawl into his comfort, inch into the space between the two of you. I’m also studying how you created such tension even though the first line told us and confirmed for you that everything was okay. Thank you for sharing such amazing technique and a story so close to your heart.

  5. I can feel your sense of anxiety and worry as well as your son’s unspoken need for you. Hold tight to those moments that he does need you, no matter what he really says or the looks he gives you or the body language. He needs you.

  6. I assume he’s okay, and that you’re okay, but what a fright. I came down our street one afternoon and a fire truck was at my house, It felt like hours before I got there & knew that all was okay. Sorry you had to go through this, glad all is well.

  7. “Slowly he stretches so that his entire arm is supported by mine.” Yes. His reach, his permission is all about parenting. It’s ok. He accepts. Beautiful.

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