The floor measures four orange tiles wide by six tiles long, not counting the cream and white squares interspersed in an attempt to bring cheer to the room The wailing infant cries pierce through the walls on regular intervals. The parents pace the hallways, anxious looks on their faces. Babies rest in cribs and toddlers play with sliding blocks in the waiting room. The nurses wear pastel scrubs and ponytails. But this hospital is different- very different- from the one we lived in fourteen years and eleven months ago.
Today, instead of watching his tiny body prone in a pediatric intensive care warming bed, all five pounds of him hooked up to breathing monitors, on this day his long, lanky legs hit the end of the hospital bed. The IV tube drips fluids and morphine instead of antibiotics, and today I am allowed to stay by his side in a built in bunk meant for moms. His big brown eyes, a bit dulled by medication, smile when he sees me. “I love you, Mom,” he says, and I smile back and kiss his forehead, gingerly navigating the splinted leg carefully propped up at the end of the bed.
Fourteen years ago, 115 pounds lighter and inches and inches smaller, he opened his eyes and stole my heart. I surrendered all my love to him, and in that moment promised to protect him, to care for him, and to always be the one he could count on.
Fourteen years have passed in an instant, years into moments captured in my heart. But it isn’t until this moment, today, as I watch helplessly as nurses and doctors assume my role, that I simultaneously see the same little spirit in an over-sized body, the same tiny, perfect little boy trusting that I will keep my promise.
Today, and every day, I love you.