My son, 3 years old at the time, lay on the table in the surgery room with me on top of him, both of us in tears. My gut wrenched into a million knots. His screams made my ears cry and my eyes bleed as I tried to encourage him that “everything will be ok”. His pleas still ring in my ears to this day, almost a year ago. I remember his face and how distorted it was from his agony. I remember him looking around the surgery room, his eyes darting from me to the surgeon to the nurse to the lights; I don’t understand how he saw anything through all those tears. His hand was gripping mine with so much strength; how little his hands were, too little to be here in this awful place. What an awful place! The needles, white painted walls, white lab coats. Absolutely fear inducing to a 3 year old. Or a 28 year old who remembers the surgery room as a child myself.
I looked at my ex-wife and was filled with anger. No, rage! I can’t believe she allowed this! Running in the house, my son was knocked down by one of her family’s multiple dogs. His upper lip split open when his face was smashed against something. I don’t know if my son knows what he hit but he recounted the story to me just recently and the truth was known. My ex-wife lied to me, a terrible habit that she has practiced for years now, and said they were playing and that he ran into a door. A door? You expect me to believe my son ran into a door? Come on…try again. Are you just expecting me to believe every lie you feed me?
I snapped back to reality when my son asked me through many tears “daddy, can you make them stop?” I looked at him in terrible agony while his lip was being stitched by the very patient surgeon. I wished I could have thrown the surgeon against the wall, stopping him from inflicting any more pain on my boy who has seen enough pain from being ripped apart from his daddy. For instance, every weekend when I pick him up he greets me with a gigantic hug, exclaims loudly how he misses me and finally, the three words I long to hear him say every weekend, that he loves me. That surgeon was really close to becoming part of the drywall. Not as close, that is, as my ex-wife who I couldn’t look at for fear that I’d start saying things I didn’t want my son to hear. Angry things. Nasty things. No, the only thing I could say as my arms, trembling, held him down to receive the stitches was “No son, I can not stop them. They are only doing their job.” I more or less had to yell for him to hear me over his cries. I thought I was the loud one in the family, he made me proud. The blood dripped, the tears poured, the cries didn’t stop.
“Daddy! Stop them! It hurts! Make them stop! I want to go home!”
Home. That sounded good.
After the stitches I held my boy tight, told him it would all be alright and that we were going to have a fun weekend. The surgeon explained the situation of how to deal with stitches, an old story to me but it was a good reminder. My son lay in my arms, lips quivering, hands clutching his two new stickers given to him by the nurses. He hated to be here. The last time he was here, his mother forgot to give him enough water to drink and he developed a UTI. Wonderful.
I kept my promise to my boy. We went to see some monster trucks that weekend. His ear protectors on his blond head, his beautiful smile, his bright eyes. It was so good to hear him yell again. Instead of “daddy make them stop” it was “daddy! Did you see that. Wow! That was amazing!” We had a wonderful time. And no one was hurt or needed an emergency room. All weekend.
I have plans to take my son to the same monster truck show soon, you know, for celebration. Let’s hope there’s no hospital visit prior this time.