The chickens were locked out of their coop, and darkness had done its best to set in. It was a warm night, and I could almost hear the stillness in the stolen radiance of this late autumn evening. There was a rustle, and then a sort of panicked chicken sound, followed by more of the same. They didn’t know what to do.
I don’t know what to do. Anything can trigger a rush of emotion. Something did not go his way. His best driver was not going to win the race. We were not going to the grocery store. He didn’t like the girls’ music.
He looked up at me, his rich brown eyes more beautiful than before as they penetrated deep inside my soul.
“You are going to have to bring me clothes, at the hospital.” He knew.
I had been in this room with one of the girls before. Just briefly, though, because she did not want me with her. Ethan looks small as he sits on the hospital gurney, clutching his Thomas blanket and eating gummy bears, the only sustenance, of you could even call it that, that I had in my bag.
There was nothing to do but look at the reflections from the various hospital equipment on what must have been a very cold tile floor. There was no way to know what time it was. It could have been any hour or no time at all. At one point, I heard lines from a lullaby piped through the tinny speaker in the hallway. Surely, somewhere, people were smiling, even celebrating, as they welcomed the new life. This child, my child, of barely nine had once held the promise of what was to come. He was two days old when I first met him as a robust newborn, before we knew how fast the world could spin.
“Please let me go home with you,” he begged. “Give me one more chance, please.”
How could I ever know, how could anyone know what to do?
I was so hungry that I thought I might fall over. Two trays arrived…a “safe” tray for him and a “guest” tray for me. Both trays, exactly the same, had plastic silverware and a bendy straw, the kind that made me cheer as a little girl. The pizza was perfect…a little crunch to the crust…topped with mushrooms and green peppers, but not too many. My heart pounded with every bite, though, and it was hard to swallow in a room so thick with emotion.
“Please,” he pleaded as he pounded his feet into the wall.
“Do you want us to give him something?” offered the hospital staff, more than once.
What could they give us to make this all go away, to turn the sun so my child can play shortstop on a team with other nine-year-olds, so my child can board a plane to visit his brother, so we can hold hope that this boy will live a life filled with joy, with love, and with productivity?
Do I want you to give him something? Yes, yes, I do. He deserves a chance at medical cannabis. He has done his time; he has had trials of twenty medications which have interrupted his childhood for no positive effect. It’s time to move the earth for this boy.
My chickens! It must be getting dark by now. They might be afraid. Maybe we all are a little afraid.
Can you rub my back? I thought he was asleep. His breath had taken on a rhythm, but his eyes were wide open and held a distant gaze. There was not much he could be looking at in this room, but there was, for certain, so much to see.
Time wore on. There were no available beds anywhere; there was no room at the inn.
In this moment, he got his wish, and I will continue to hope for mine. We couldn’t hold ourselves up any longer, and so we had to come. Half a Sunday later, off we went, together, out the sliding glass doors and into the darkness, at least for a little while longer.
We will keep walking, hoping, singing, painting, digging in the dirt, begging, searching, and, of course, wishing, because he is worth it.