In the spring, I had a miscarriage that went beyond sad, straight past to scary. My then nine year old was home sick from school. Sick, but quite recovered enough to be enjoying his first Indiana Jones movie while I was passing out on the bathroom floor. Everything was trending with a distinct downward trajectory, so I eventually made him stop the movie and call his father, who could not be reached. Against boy’s strong wishes, but saving him from finding me unconscious and unable to be revived later, I made him call 911. (I would have gotten the phone myself, but the inability to stand and remain conscious was challenging me at the time.)
Son relayed when a police car arrived in the driveway. I had to argue him into answering the door. The ambulance came followed at last by my husband. I worried about my son, but there wasn’t anything to say other than please not to worry, and the ambulance people would make everything better.
In the days that followed, we said thank you. We told him we were proud of him. In the quiet spaces, I tried to check in.
“How are you doing about when you were home with me that day?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I just didn’t want to talk to the 911 people.”
“So really, you’re ok?”
“Yeah. I really liked that movie.”
A check in a week or so later yielded similar results. I decided not to push the point. If he wasn’t traumatized because he didn’t understand how serious things has been, I didn’t see anything good about changing that. And if he was upset, he wasn’t ready to talk yet.
Last week, a little more than six months since that day, we were sorting through his clothes.
“What’s with these shorts?” I ask. “You never wear them.”
“Give them to charity. I hate them.”
“They don’t fit or you don’t like them? What’s wrong with them?”
“I hate them. They fit but I’ll never wear them. You were wearing shorts just like that the day the ambulance came.”
“You don’t wear these shorts because I was wearing shorts like this the day I went to the hospital?”
“Yeah. I’m never wearing those shorts. ”
“So you were scared that day?”
“I was so scared. I didn’t even know what would happen. And then they took you in the ambulance. It was a really bad day.”
“I’m sorry all that happened.”
“Are you ok now?”
“Yeah, but I hate those shorts. Give them to charity.”
“They sound like pretty lousy shorts. Maybe we should burn them.”
Boy slowly grins. The thought of the shorts on fire is in his eyes.
“Maybe, I’ll burn mine too,” I say. “I don’t really like the shorts I wore that day either.”
“Yeah, we can burn them both.” Boy laughs, then looks me in the eye. “We can just give them away. It’s ok, Mom.”
My heart lets go a little more, because finally, I believe him.