On Monday morning, I dressed Kyeler in his 4th of July outfit and drove him to the children’s emergency department. He was lethargic, coughing, and spiking fevers of 104. I knew I couldn’t delay taking him to the hospital any longer.
We quickly moved through triage and got situated in an ED room, where Kyeler lolled in my arms with an orange popsicle and I watched Grey’s Anatomy reruns. It was strangely comforting to see familiar doctors on screen—McDreamy, Meredith, Cristina—while interacting with unfamiliar ones in real life.
One of the pediatric residents from the floor came down and introduced himself while he examined Kyeler. “We’re going to admit him to the hospital overnight,” the doctor told me gently. “I think it’s best that we keep him on oxygen and monitor his status for awhile.” I nodded and tried to absorb our new 4th of July plans: chest x-ray, respiratory panel, chest percussion therapy, albuterol treatments.
Three episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and two popsicles later, Kyeler and I moved up to a room on the pediatric unit. Our nurse, Wendy, was so kind. She brought us bubbles, an American flag pinwheel, crayons, and vanilla ice cream. Our first day within those four walls went by in a blur of coaxing Kyeler to eat, nap, and not pull out his oxygen tubing.
Josh came to switch places with me in the evening so he could spend the night with Kyeler and I could go home to stay with CJ. On the way home from the hospital, I decided to stop and pick up dinner somewhere. The only problem was, it was 5:11pm on the 4th of July and everything was closed. Something broke in me as I read the third, “Sorry, we are closing at 4pm today!” sign, and the tears that I had been holding in all day flooded out. Miraculously, at just about the same moment, an outpouring of generosity from friends and family began.
I can’t even tell you the number of people who prayed, sent gift cards, brought meals, texted to check in, and offered to watch CJ. One friend, after hearing of my failed attempts to pick up dinner, came straight over with a plate of the most delicious food—grilled chicken, yellow rice, tzatziki sauce, and arugula salad. During the four days that Kyeler was hospitalized, we subsisted almost entirely on the support of others. I accepted the generosity with immense gratitude, but also a bit of discomfort.
Being on the receiving end of help, especially when I can’t do anything in return, doesn’t come easily to me. I’d much rather deny my neediness and just tough things out on my own. The thing is, while the greater world doesn’t stop when your child is sick, your personal world does. And we desperately needed the support of others to keep our own little world spinning this week.
Thankfully Kyeler was able to come home on Thursday, as spunky and energetic as ever. It turned out that his hospital admission led to a necessary admission of my own: It’s okay to need help.
What a grace to have friends and family so willing to help us, and what a gift to simply open my hands and receive it.