He sat on the white tile counter in the kitchen of my parents house. We had been there for Christmas. Dr. Gooch had, too, but it was January now. The tree was undecorated and down. Dr. Gooch had gone back to the beautiful winter of Arizona where they were training him up in the ways of the County ER. I had stayed on with my parents to make the company last just a little bit longer. (Because there never was a Resident Doctor-in-training that was any sort of good company). Lucy was not quite two and I was still nursing three-month-old Hazel. We were snacking on almonds at the countertop that day. It is not so funny sometimes, the weight of the mundane.
He aspirated a tiny piece of those almonds that day and I sat over his hot heaving body that night. We deliberated quickly. I took baby Hazel and a sick sick boy on a plane home. To Phoenix. We crossed paths at the SLC airport with their father who recognizes emergencies for a living and, in a few somber seconds there at the curb, recognized this in his son. He flew to Utah to drive the car and Lucy back home. We went straight to his pediatrician which started a series of events that led to a pulmonologist, general anesthesia, surgery (bronchoscopy), and a two night stay in the ICU.
As I sat in his dark, beeping room. I thought of Seth, trying to fight off the infection that had begun to spread in his lungs. Fighting for healthy breath. I thought of Hazel, at my Aunt Lark's home in Mesa, AZ, being fed a bottle of formula at three months old as my own milk dried up. I thought of how even the strongest body was not in control and that that wasn't the point. Being in control. The point was just being there. My mom calls it "just showing up".
It is really as simple as putting a seed in the ground then surrendering to the elements of sun, earth, and rain. Dr. Gooch planted his first "seeds" in the Fall. After a long (for North Carolina), wet, cold winter, we are enjoying giant blooms of red, yellow, and pink. They are the stop-you-in-your-tracks brand of beauty. He doubted they would actually show up, but they did. Oh, did they!
Seth is six now with plenty of breath to keep his life beating loud and clear. After tucking him in at night he waits for the house to quiet as I tuck the girls in their respective beds and then calls for me.
"Come lay with me, Mom." Sometimes he talks or I will ask him to spill the details of his busy busy mind. But, usually and mostly he just wants me to be there. To show up, a warm body next to his that I am watching grow "from seed" into a stop-you-in-your-tracks brand of beauty.
A mother is the queen facilitator of life. A gardener is the same. There are equal parts of labor and letting go for both. I still fight for control as I raise four children and play the companion of the man I love. And I still surrender minute by minute. I doubt, too, and then am surprised how, by yielding to the God-given potential of the children, I find such splendor. Such splendor.
The children: Hazel, Lucy, Avery & Seth