Yesterday, my boy turned three, and if you know anything about me, you know that I love to reflect and get nostalgic about years gone by. It was fun to retrace Erin and my steps three years ago. I kept thinking, "I bet we were doing ________ about this time." The fact is that Friday February 23, 2007 was an incredibly fun day. Erin's mom was with us all day, Emma spent the day with Erin Humphries, Dr. Curran did a great job delivering the boy, and my parents rolled into town that evening. Everything was going so smoothly that we were pretty sure we would leave the hospital on Saturday afternoon and begin the journey of being a family of four.
On Saturday morning, I woke up at the house and checked on Emma to discover she had a fever. It wasn't that big of a deal-at the time I was only thinking about how she wouldn't be able to go up to the hospital at all that day. After talking to my parents who were staying with us, we decided that my mom would hang out with her that morning while my dad, brother, and I went to the hospital. Lunch time arrived and the guys decided that we would go pick up some BBQ sandwiches and bring them by the house for my mom and Emma. I was having a hard time reaching mom on the phone, but I finally I got through to hear this: "I called an ambulance for Emma. You need to come home right now." The mile from Cripple Creek BBQ to my house seemed like an eternity. What happened? Why was an ambulance involved? Why hadn't I been there? What was I going to tell Erin?
When we got to the house, there was indeed an ambulance in the driveway, and Emma was lying on the gurney. To see her two-and-a-half year old frame inside of an ambulance filled with tubes and masks and wires was too much. My mom and the EMTs were all telling me the story-her fever had spiked and she had a seizure. She had been looking at the DVD's trying to find a movie to watch when she went limp and became unresponsive. Mom was the only one at the house and she called 911. After a few preliminary checks, I hopped in the ambulance with Emma and we went to the ER. One of the perks of living in a small town (and having a hospital in town) was quickly apparent – Dr. Curran met us at the ER doors, and Erin was able to come down not long after. In fact, Erin's OB nurses checked on her for the next couple of hours in the ER; I seriously doubt that Methodist Hospital (where Emma was delivered) would have been so helpful.
Although Emma was not very responsive, the doctors and nurses assured us that she would most likely be fine in a little while. The seizure was a febrile seizure brought on by a high fever, and had most likely not caused any damage. It's actually the body's natural way of breaking an exceptionally high fever. To be on the safe side, Emma was admitted for the night, and in a strange twist of fate, her room was exactly 50 steps away from Erin and Caedmon's room. Erin and I each went to one of our children's rooms, and if we wanted to switch we would call each others rooms and hug as we passed in the hallway on our 50 step journey.
Rob Bell talks about the hallways of life in his newest book Drops Like Stars and I know exactly what he means. The 24 hours in the hospital was lived in a hallway between the one of the best and worst experiences of our lives. On the way to Caedmon's room, I remember feeling lifted and excited, but traveling to Emma's room was such a reminder of how little control we have in life. How could I have helped her? What could I have done to keep this from happening? After one night, everyone was released to go home; to this day, Emma has never shown any ill effects from her seizure. But the experience made deep impressions on me, and is a constant reminder of the tension between wonderful and awful that seems to fill up our lives. It's a tension between how things should be and how things actually are. I long for a time when everything is made new and right, but for now there will be more instances of heartache and pain. And I will continue to live in the hallway between the two.