Not Just a Fever

Two boys went to bed with fevers last night. One is dead. The other is my David.
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Two boys went to bed with fevers last night. One is dead. The other is my David.

I have to wonder if the guardian angels are vacationing in Florida this month, because too many little guys have fallen asleep for good in this zip code.

In Katherine's preschool class, a little boy lost his three-month-old brother to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). No explanation. Cooing one minute. Gone another. And at her playgroup this morning a mom couldn't stop crying.

"Sorry," she apologized to the group. "My daughter's seven-year-old classmate and friend died last night. He went to bed with a fever and had no pulse in the morning."

"Wait a minute," I wanted to say. "This isn't Iraq or Afghanistan. Healthy American kids don't go to sleep alive and wake up dead. Not in Annapolis. Not unless they've been diagnosed with a terminal illness. And those are so, so rare. They almost never happen."

As I looked at this mom's tearful eyes, I held David's flushed hand (he still had his fever), and I felt like a weasel for griping to myself the entire drive to the playgroup about how impossible it was to meet a writing deadline when I had a sick kid to take care of. I couldn't do it, not without staying up past midnight, and I had already gone over my quota for the week. (If I stay up more than three nights in a week, I'll trigger a manic episode and then crash into a bad depression. I can't afford to do that now that I am writing this blog about how I try to stay sane.)

But my crammed schedule and impending late night seemed like a fabulous party compared to this friend of a friend's tragedy.

I took my sick boy home and did something I never do...put my computer to sleep so I couldn't see the new e-mails streaming in.

"What do you want to do?" I asked David. "We have two hours until we have to pick up your sister." I walked over to the eight pieces of blue construction paper, an "ocean" that his babysitter had posted on the kitchen wall to house all the sea creatures he had colored and cut out at school. "Should we add more seahorses or octopuses?"

And I remembered what Gayle Boss wrote in her essay "Enduring Boredom" for my book, "I Love Being a Mom" (compiled back when my Prozac was working):

"Domestic tedium, like any desert, has tuned my eyes and ears to the subtle, the hidden, to the still, small voice that directs from within: See this child in the tub, flushed and reaching for you? This is the Presence in the present. This is holy ground, and it is more than enough. Be here."

Originally pubished on “Beyond Blue” at beliefnet.com/beyondblue. Reprinted with permission of Beliefnet.com. For more, visit beliefnet.com/beyondblue.com.

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