One of the downsides to living on a rural island is that when your 3-year-old wakes up coughing so hard that he screams but stops screaming because he's having such a difficult time breathing, there's no clinic or urgent care to visit. So you drive him to the fire station with all the windows down, talking to him in the darkness to make sure he's okay. And then you reach the fire station.
This is where the upside of living on a rural island kicks in. The firefighters and medic who answer the door are so kind and gentle with your scared son as they open up the back of the ambulance. They ask him to hold my hand while we step in together. They explain everything they are doing, because they sense immediately how curious he is to understand how everything works. And within minutes, your son says, "Mama, I'm not scared anymore!" And you remind him once again about Mister Rogers' quote about the helpers. These are the helpers.
So are the ferry workers who divert the boat so the ambulance with us in it can go. So are the driver and medic in the ambulance waiting on the city side. They don't mind if little guy coughs so hard he throws up, repeatedly. They soothe him. And his mama. The helpers live at Children's hospital. They give the little guy steroids for his lousy bout of croup and give Mama answers. They let us sleep in a room for an hour in the ER until 4:30 am when I get us both up and walk out to a taxi. And then the taxi driver ends up being an incredibly kind, articulate retired actor. And while little guy sleeps on my chest, the driver tells me about the singular experience of seeing Hamilton in NY, original cast. Just as he is telling me about @phillipasoo's haunting voice, the last note of the musical hers, in the quiet a clear voice ringing out in the darkness, we round the corner and see the ferry and the sunrise.
I know there are mamas and dads in Manchester right now, wishing they could hold their little ones close. Sometimes, the world makes no sense. But I'm always going to look for the helpers. And be one when I can.
I'm oh so tired today. And oh so grateful.