I was walking with a woman, and though I don't know who she was, I know she was my friend. In my arms I held an immensely heavy bag that was full of food, but the bag was tearing and the food was falling to the ground. No matter what I did, I could not hold all of the food.
My friend smiled and took the whole bag out of my arms, but there was a watermelon that began to tumble to the ground. I took back the watermelon, and it was clear that it had been most of the weight of the load I was carrying, but without all of the other food falling and sliding around, I could manage the burden of it. We walked, and I hefted the melon, the heaviest part of my burden, while my friend carried the rest of my load for me. She smiled as she walked beside me.
Last night after soccer practice, Adam climbed up on the jungle gym to play for a few minutes. I alternated between reading a few lines from my book, then looking at the girls and glancing at Adam as they played. The next time I looked up, Adam was on the ground with a twisted look on his face. He stood up and fell back down. He stood again and took a step, and then crumbled to the ground, his leg doubling under him. He began to bawl, and I gathered him up in my arms and carried him to the car.
I had just been on the phone to Guy moments before and I knew he was busy doing his church work, so I wasn't surprised by his "what now?" tone when he answered the phone. "I think Adam broke his leg. I am gonna give him a minute to settle down, but I think we have to take him to the hospital." I sounded so matter of fact that my own voice surprised me. There was no rush, no panic, no anxiety. There was definitely a hint of "of course" and a little undertone of "what next?". I thought of my sister, mother of 10, who is on a first name basis with ER staff. Up to this moment I never understood her calm demeanour when one of her children is badly hurt. Like a chicken laying it's 50th egg, we have been here before. After a year and a half of trials, what's one more? Or, as I have begun saying to myself, "When you slam your foot in the door, it doesn't hurt so much if you drop a can of beans on your toe."
Guy sighed and said simply, "OK. See you in a minute."
We called our friend Ellen and asked her to watch our other kids while we went to the ER. After the faintest pause, she affectionately said, "Bring them on over." I learned a few hours later that she was, at that moment, heading out the door for an all night drive to Utah. A pause, that was it, and she quietly changed her plans for us.
We sat in the ER, and the room was teaming with infected people, all there because they believed they had the swine flu. We marveled at folks who had come to the hospital for fevers and sore throats. It takes blood, or possibly-broken bones, to get us in here. We were triaged, then we were the unwitting participants in a staff training session. The intake took forever. We were led to an exam room and then became victims of a clerical error.
They forgot us.
I read "To Kill a Mocking Bird" to Adam, and Guy began to pace. About an hour later Guy went to inquire as to what was taking so long. Suddenly we were getting care, and lots of lame excuses.
My cell rang. "Laine, I hear you are at the ER." Crazy, who could have known this, for that matter, who the heck was this? "It's Shelly, silly." laughed my friend from church. She offered to go get my kids, take them home and put them to bed. I insisted that we were fine, and that they were with Ellen, not knowing, of course, of Ellen's thwarted travel plans. I then called Ellen to let her know about our delay. She told me about Utah, and said she would find someone to take the kids, but knowing Shelly had volunteered, I had her call Shelly. By the time we were done with our x-ray, Shelly was on her way.
One x-ray, a leg brace, two crutches and three hours later, we were finally home.
This week has been one full of grief and sorrow, but while I have been busy carrying the heaviest part of my load, my kind friends have been here to pick up the pieces of my life that I keep dropping. When we first learned yet another tiny baby was lost, my friend Stephanie and her husband Dave came. They came and held us, and cried with us and gave us blessings and kind words. They brought pie.
I am grateful for comfort food, phone calls, last minute child care, and enormous hugs. I am thankful for friends who don't try to fix it, knowing it can't be fixed, but who have sat to cry with me. I am thankful for friends with pie, because pie might make it better.
Thank you Steph, Dave, Heidi, Shelly, Nicole, Joanna, Rebekah, Ellen, Morri and Shallon.