I found out last week just how deeply rooted I am in my community of friends here, and how heavily I rely on their support when what has been heaped on my family's plate seems vastly more than we can handle alone. Early last week Ari was sick with a low fever and what appeared to be a mild cold. As the days passed I noticed that his breathing seemed excessively rapid and shallow, and that he was listless and tired. I scheduled an appointment with his doctor on Thursday, and by the time Thursday morning rolled around his fever had climbed and he was clearly quite sick. At the clinic he was working hard to breathe, and when he did not respond to an aerosolized albuterol treatment there I bundled him into the car and floored it to the emergency room. There Ari was diagnosed with pneumonia, and the rest is a blur. The nurses tried seven times to start an IV on his tiny arms, feet, and hands. He had at least six wires and tubes running from his body to various whooshing and beeping pieces of machinery. He cried and I cried and no one at the hospital was legally allowed to tell me that my son would be all right. Someone said the phrase "really aggressive cases of pneumonia this year." Specialists came into the room to administer various treatments, telling me that kids usually responded after an hour or so, then would come back hours later to frown at Ari's unchanging numbers. I was so. so. scared.
But our friends were there, from the minute we walked through those hospital doors. Margie, grandmother of Geneva's school friend Isis, looked after the girls on Thursday and even took them to the flight museum to keep their minds occupied. My friend Jen brought dinner that night, and arranged for us to have dinner provided for the entirety of Ari's hospital stay. She and my friend Sanna watched the girls on Saturday so that Avery could come and be with his son, which provided me a rare opportunity to shower. Stephanie visited me three times, bringing sushi and cookies and hugs. Jessica visited, too, calming my nerves and making me an impromptu "pie" out of peanut butter and a banana. Roman and Cristina, Patrick and Allison, Yalisha, Tara, Megan, and Margie all brought meals, and Margie also brought books and games for the girls to play with during their visits. Aunt Karen, cousin Ryker, and cousin Allison tore themselves away from their newborn nephew and grandchild to visit, bringing books for Ari and magazines for me. Jen's husband Jeff, who is a cardiac nurse, stopped by to see if I had any questions about Ari's condition and to provide moral support. Kay delivered a load of groceries. And countless others, near and far, sent us messages of hope and healing so that my phone seemed to chime continually. I truly cannot imagine how we could have made it through those five long, agonizing days without our community. Our village.
We did make it through, though. By Saturday Ari was showing significant improvement, and on Sunday the doctors and nurses began to wean him off of his support. He slept without supplemental oxygen on Sunday night, and on Monday afternoon we were home. It was a simple enough story-- child gets sick, child gets treatment, child gets well-- but in the midst of it all it seemed anything but simple. I wonder how families manage when they have a child who is sick for weeks, or months, or years, or always. I have a new appreciation for the village that must surround those families and hold them together, saying the comforting words the doctors cannot say and keeping things from falling through the cracks. We always planned to leave Yakima someday, but now I wonder, how? How can we leave the people who, the way I see it, saved my baby's life? And now that I know just how solidly, fundamentally I am rooted here, how can I abandon the village that will someday need me?
I've stayed offline to focus on my family, but the truth is that my family is a large and wonderful thing-- larger than the walls of this house by far. If the internet is a tool I can use to spread my love and gratitude to the dear friends I am lucky enough to call mine, then it is a tool worth using after all.