It started a couple of weeks ago with a small bruise on his forearm, then another. Soon, we saw a few on his back and several on his legs and hips. Bruises that came and wouldn’t leave until there was enough black and blue on his tiny body to make us raise a collective eyebrow. Then his gums started bleeding every time he brushed his teeth—bleeding that didn’t seem to want to stop and wouldn’t without significant interference from us.
We called the doctor. And my seven-year-old son offered up his arm yet again, an arm that isn’t even seven inches in diameter—this time for the four full vials required for the many, many tests that had been ordered.
I am grateful—truly grateful—for modern medicine and what it has been able to accomplish for my son. But his latest health challenge is being characterized as a side effect of his anti-seizure medication. An unfortunate side effect and one that needs everyone’s immediate attention.
And I look at this sweet boy, this very, very good boy and wonder why he has been chosen for these challenges. I can wax philosophical, I suppose, about how the adversities in our lives strengthen our character and provide us with the skills we will need to negotiate our futures. But philosophizing doesn’t mitigate his suffering and doesn’t come anywhere close to explaining why him, why anyone?
As I sit and write this afternoon, my children are playing, and I hear laughter—from each of them, all of them. It’s the sound of childhood; it’s the sum total of what childhood should be–not seizures and medications and needles and formidable side effects.
And I want to join them in their laughter, experience their levity. I want to feel the lightheartedness childhood joy inspires in others. But today I can only listen and wish things were different . . .