Monday, May 29, 2023

The Soapbox: The Arrival

For all the Moms who were never afforded this opportunity…

“Today is your day to be tested for an illness,
I told my son with a mother’s loving-kindness.
We are going to a very special hospital
And if you obey, you’ll have endless blue popsicles.

The kids are sick,” I said, “so don’t point and don’t stare.
Let me warn you about them, they may not have any hair.
If you want to tell Mama something, just whisper in my ear
Let’s get ready to go, put your coat on—here!”

I thought to myself, “It’s only bloodwork,
Maybe an x-ray or two, an ultrasound and perks
Of being a patient at St. Jude’s with other sick little kids
Coaxed by tiny treasure chests before every needle stick.

Why should I carry needless worry,
When we can just jet down I-40 in a hurry
And discover the very best of the medical profession
In Elvis’ beloved Memphis– a great intercession?

I mean, we didn’t have to leave our friends behind
Or check into temporary housing for this son of mine.
Nashville and Austin, Springfield, St. Louis
All send their sick to be healed in bluestown Memphis.”

I dressed in Sunday finest, like going on vacation
Though I’m not sure that even exists, was I expecting an ovation?
I carried a huge duffle bag with glitter and bling
For I didn’t know what to expect or what the day would bring.

Beneath the golden dome, we stepped into the hidden city
All the things we’d heard about made us nervous and, frankly, giddy
With the pleasure of being in this world-renowned microcosm
Of childhood wonderland that we could barely even fathom.

Fresh walls of purple paint screamed, “Don’t Touch!”
Not to fear, for there were plenty of toys to play with inasmuch.
Smiles were everywhere, nipping the budding crisp morning,
We were all checked in, awakening, as the sun was dawning.

I began to look around, “This isn’t so bad.”
That was short-lived when the sonographer made me mad.
She couldn’t find the spleen anywhere in my son’s belly
Not only that, she splattered our clothes with disgusting, clear jelly.

Inside, I questioned her training, “Is this her very first day?”
Silence pressing inward caused my heart to sway.
“Is this bad news?” I wondered, as she went to find her boss.
Though she finally got the sonogram, I still felt at a loss.

As both fear and anger battled my stance of reason,
My heart raced within me; I was suddenly hot, yet freezing.
The consoling patient advocate put us on a meal plan,
And assured us that on our next visit, they would do they best they can.

“Meal plan!” I thought, “This is our one and only visit!
We’re just here for blood work, just a day of tests, or is it?”
Within a matter of minutes I discovered the doc had scheduled another day
Panic-stricken I decided this was more than just an ultrasound and x-ray!

“Hey wait a minute. I’m not ready to join this club.
Just this side of three weeks ago, no hematologist had even taken blood!”
How could this be happening to someone I know so well?
Was there room for concern on my part? I really couldn’t tell.

As the resident neighborhood patient advocate
Continued to make a day of it,
I felt my heart resist her kindness,
For I didn’t want any part of this.

Her every Christlike glance penetrated my beating chest,
“I’m not ready to check into this world just yet, he probably just needs a little rest!”
Every other mother’s eye watched our familiar reactions
To our new surroundings, not to mention, our cultural infractions.

They each had their own problems, I’m sure,
But it was there when I saw a boy being wheeled through the door.
My first reality check to those I had always heard about:
The little children who check in, but don’t ever check out.

Bald and Scarred, frail to the touch,
This little man used his mother as a crutch
When she laid him right there in front of me
In Peter Pan PJs, and of all things, my son’s favorite Nemo character blankie.

“Do you need to go potty?” she said after a while.
And with all her mother might, she carried this slippered, five-foot child.
Tears replaced smiles across the waiting room–
Patient parent warriors, all similarly awaited their doom.

Melted, Overflowing, I turned to the patient advocate
“I’m ready,” I said, “Let’s get on with it.
“You must have a special calling, to do what you do.”
Through a single tear she replied, “I once was a mother, just like you.”

Exhausting every effort, our day came to a close.
Driving away, I pressed the window with my nose.
I kept hearing the doctor, “All looks good regarding the tests we did.”
And leaving behind the mini-city, we went downtown and ate some ribs.

Though one might say the arrival is my tale of a world-renowned hospital
A fate-afforded opportunity, I know I never will.
Knowing that nothing of mine is mine, but His.
Realizing the true arrival is destination grace for whatever my reality is.

Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper. Follow Brandi on Twitter @BrandiChambless

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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