Ethan saw me walking the other day. It was the first time since the car accident. So far he's seen me injured and in shock at the the time of the accident. He's seen me immobile and managing pain in a hospital bed. He's watched me regain some independence in my wheelchair with two new leg rests attached to keep my legs in the best position. Because my leg is healing properly, I've started putt-putting around the house with a walker, now that I'm finally allowed to bear weight on my left side.
When Ethan spotted me he rushed up, still in his pyjamas and hopped nervously from foot to foot.
"Mommy! What are you doing?" He yelped.
"I'm walking, Boo."
"Walking? You're walking? His voice sqeaked. He wanted to be close. He stood right next to me, just on the other side the walker's frame. "Mommy..Mommy," He whispered and he rubbed my arm. "It's allright, Mommy"
"Yes it is, Boo." I said firmly as we moved past the kitchen.
Every time I feel like bitching about my current situation I remember that the accident has had the most impact on my four year old son. When it happened, uninjured Ethan jumped off my lap and wailed, "It's my fault!" He was convinced he had done something wrong to cause the car to hit us.
Two days after I was taken to the hospital in Montclair, he asked his father whether I was gone forever.
Brought faithfully by my mother, Ethan visited me every day during my stay at Kessler. Every day, he would seperate me from other visitors for us to spend some time alone. He pushed me up and down the halls, stopping to introduce me to nurses and aides or whomever we happened to encounter along the way. At first he was reluctant to clamber up on my lap for fear of hurting my leg, but wanting his usual hugs and kisses he soon got over that and would settle into my lap to say goodbye. Our visits always ended the same way:
I asked as I had done since he was very young: "Are you my favorite Boo?"
"Yes!" He'd say and I'd feel his body relax. We'd sit this way for the last few minutes enjoying each other's warmth.
My mother regaled me with stories of episodes of acting out that included tantrums, sudden teary outbursts and his newest behavior, screaming "NO! NO! NO!" when he woke up in the morning and he realized she was there to wake him instead of me.
I can't say that I behaved much better. Having been his primary caretaker since his birth, I hated being away from him. This accident marked the first time we'd spent more than a single night apart. By some weird twist of misery, Ethan had been diagnosed with a hernia and his surgery was scheduled while I was at Kessler. This meant that I couldn't be with him before he went in and of course,I wouldn't there when he woke up scared, confused and in pain. During his surgery I was at the gym unable to concentrate, crying (blubbering) trying to fathom how it was that I was standing between parallel bars instead of next to my little boy.
Ethan came through the surgery just fine and as soon as he was able, came back to Kessler to visit. As was his way, he steered me away from the group and pushed me along the hall ways. because of the surgery he walked more cautiously now. We stopped by the vending machines off the rotunda to share a bag of cheetos.
"Mommy?" He sputtered through a mouthful of orange crispy crumbs.
He paused for a second, looked me in the eye and said,"You're my favorite Boo."
Anyone who knows me, knows that I think of myself as a pretty tough chick.I work hard to stay independent, asking for help doesn't come easily and I'm not exactly sentimental. When Ethan called me his favorite Boo, he actually took my breath away. I didn't know what to say so I said, "Thank you, Boo."
He nodded, hazel eyes shining and munched another cheeto.