The following is a guest post written by Alyssa Ramsey. Alyssa is a gifted writer with a beautiful heart. I first (kind of) met Alyssa in a small group setting, where she briefly mentioned her challenge of finding time to create while mothering two small children. At that moment, I knew that we would be friends. And we are. Visit Alyssa’s blog at www.cordsoflight.wordpress.com.
“Are you going to shot me?”
The words tumbled honestly, fearfully off my 4-year-old’s lips. Two nurses, syringes in hand, answered with practiced reassurance:
“You’ll be fine! Easy as pie! We’ll be done in no time!” Their words, intended to comfort, convinced my daughter of one thing: this was going to hurt.
She drew her legs up inside her green monster-covered hospital gown and clamped her arms around them. When the nurses laid her on her back, it was as a tight package of elbows and knees.
Then they got me involved. The nurses instructed me to lay sideways across her chest, pin down her arms, and block her view of the proceedings. Then they wrenched her legs out of the recesses of the gown. And the crying began.
I had tried to prepare her for this. “I know the shots hurt a little bit,” I’d said, “but they help you not to get sick. A shot is just a little ouchie, but getting sick can give you great big ouchies.”
But no one wants the pain. So she cried.
My face was bent low over hers as the nurses swabbed the alcohol. I spoke quiet words of comfort – breathed them out an inch from her nose. She wouldn’t look at me. She pleaded with the nurses for mercy.
“Here comes the first one,” they said.
My daughter’s body arced and twisted. Then, despite my weight across her chest, she pulled herself up to nearly sitting in a valiant escape attempt. Anything but the pain.
“Whoa, mom!” the nurses chided.
They don’t realize how strong she is, I thought.
I laid her back down and held her more tightly. I held her to permit the pain and to lessen it. I — the one who could have prevented this, the one whose knowledge and will had brought us here, the one whose presence was safety to her, the one who felt her pain as though it were my own – I, her mother, held her firmly in the path of affliction.
I spoke reassurance to her, though I was sure she couldn’t hear me for her own screaming.
Then came the second shot.
“Stop it! Please stop it!” she begged. And suddenly my eyes were wet, too. My instinct was to scoop her up into my arms, to end the agony, to rescue her. But knowing we were only halfway there – knowing that this was for her good – I allowed it to go on.
By the time she got the third shot, my daughter’s misery outmatched her vocabulary. With no adequate words for her horror, she heaved inarticulate moans of despair. I understood them. I’ve uttered them myself. In moments of darkest fear and deepest hurt, in the hour of betrayal, I’ve uttered them.
Her pain was nothing new, and nothing to what’s to come. In her innocence and youth she was already feeling the consequences of the curse, the mark of destruction in her flesh.
Still, I held her.
I felt her body go limp beneath me. She had given up. Still I held her, my face only inches from hers and my weight pressed upon her heart. In her distress, the full intensity of my love was bent upon her. I remembered that my other child was also in the room, but this one, the one who suffered, the one who could think of nothing but the pain – my daughter – my heart burned for her.
When at last their torturous work was done, the nurses left the room as Corinne tumbled off the table and into my arms. I spoke my affection to her, but she avoided my gaze. Still, I held her, and since there was no one else to give comfort, she accepted it from the one who had allowed the pain.
I waited as my daughter processed her thoughts, not knowing how the trauma had affected her trust in me. Perhaps she would blame me for her suffering. Would she see it as betrayal? Could a 4-year-old understand why the pain was necessary?
Moments later, we left the office and walked out into the bright October air. The cool breeze soothed my burning thoughts and calmed my daughter’s quaking breaths. And then, with puffy eyes and aching legs, just one step past the pain, she gave me a gift.
“Sanks for helping me not to get sick, Mama.”