Friday, March 29, 2013

If Morning Ever Comes

Dear Son,

Remember when I wrote about Dad having a cold?  Well, you and I have just returned from the Pediatrician's office, and you have croup. Again.  Seems it's your regular affliction.  It could be worse.  You've been in good spirits so far and right now you are napping beside me on the couch, peacefully propped-up on a pillow.  Where I can listen to every snore and whistle and determine if intervention is necessary.  I took a picture of you and sent it to your Dad, because you are just too cute when you're snoozing. 

But this is not how I felt at 5 A.M., when Dad and I crawled, on all fours, into your darkened room to listen to you breathe after we were awakened by wheezing and a weak coughing coming from the baby monitor.  We equipped ourselves with an albuterol neb treatment and crept slowly, slowly, slowly into the dark, mechanical whir that is your room at night, with the cool-mist humidifier and the ceiling fan lulling you to sleep in a carefully air-aquality controlled environment. 

And with the flick of the nebulizer's ON switch you were awake.  Cheerfully, so.  You sat and greeted your Dad, who was trying to sneak the child sized mask through your crib railing, with a happy, "Aye!"  We hit the deck,  frozen in terror, like wild animals who have sensed the presence of Man in the woods.  You have impeccable night-vision.  Then louder, almost shouting, comes "Aye!"  A warning, a siren ready to wail. And all hope for a complete, if not good, nights sleep is lost.

So for two dim hours, you and I sit in the recliner in your room, rocking and singing, rocking and singing.  You snoozing fitfully for a few minutes, me enduring knees in my rib-cage, an elbow shoved forcefully under my chin.  Then you startle, sit up, point to something I can't see and proclaim, "Beee!"  The wee hours can make anyone a little loopy.  More rocking and humming, too early to remember the words to anything.  Yes, even the ABCs.  Sweat has matted your hair to your forehead and your batman pajamas are wrinkled and stretched.  Evidence of a fitful night's sleep.  I fiddle with the neck of your tee-shirt, sure that if I can get it to lay just right I can ease your breathing.  We rearrange in the recliner.  Try to sleep.  Elbow. Ribcage. Repeat. 

It reminds me of my favorite Anne Tyler novel, If Morning Ever Comes. The narrator, Ben Joe, is the youngest brother of a large, female-centric, dysfunctional (is there any other kind?), Southern family.  The novel gets its title, specifically, from a scene the narrator remembers: He spends the night before a big Farmers Market/State Fair/Tractor Show next to a farmer and his disabled son who have just set up their stall.  The son is so excited for the big hoopla the next day that he asks his father as soon as they lay down to sleep, and with increasing frequency, "Is it morning yet?"  Over and over again.  Finally, the  boy's father gets up and packs up, exclaiming "If morning ever comes!"  The narrator, less specifically, applies this adage to his own family drama, which always seems to happen in the middle of the night--someone leaving, someone coming, someone fighting, and no one in their bed where or when they're supposed to be.  Oh, how life mimics art!!

So in the familiar dread of the "wee" hours, inevitable with any child (as your kind doctors have said: It's not if they get sick but when...), I find myself thinking that morning will never come, and if it ever does, can't it come sooner?!  Because, somehow, having a sick child seems less daunting when it's light outside.  Maybe for the same reason that kids (like you!) sleep with a night-light; things seem a little less scary when you shed a little light on them.

And all of this happened on Good Friday, no less (not really a "good" day--the day we remember that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross--more of a somber day).  You could take "good" to signify the good news that Jesus died for our sins so that all who believe him may live or you could just have a little faith that morning WILL come and everything will be A-OK.  

I hope you'll be on the mend pronto!

Love you (even in the wee hours),



  1. I have to tell you this made me laugh. We are all too well familiar with this same senario. What is crazy is my oldest was never sick when he was little. Never had to deal with any croup or crazy illnesses over and over. Then again we were living on a beach in Florida so I have to come to the agreement that the sun and beach made everyone healthier and happier. But the youngest is in and out of doctors all the time and has a year round prescription to neb treatments. I hope he gets better! Just know you are not alone... I too have "army manned" on the floor in the middle of the night :)

    1. Yes we literally travel everywhere with our nebulizer. But that salt air can cure anything! This winter has been too loooong.

  2. "We hit the deck, frozen in terror, like wild animals who have sensed the presence of Man in the woods. You have impeccable night-vision." This is so true! I laughed out loud and brought me back to those same years when my children were smaller :)