Last week, while riding his bike (with helmet on thankfully), my four-year-old son was hit by a car. When I got the phone call at work, my heart sank. My wife said, “CJ was hit by a car. I think he broke his leg. Meet us at the hospital.”
I rushed out of my meeting, grabbed my car keys and told my boss I was leaving. It was 3:47 – just about rush hour and the hospital was about 25 miles away.
It was one of the longest car rides of my life.
When your child is hurt, it brings out emotions that you never knew you were capable of feeling because having kids changes everything. You see the world and everything in it, differently.
Years ago, I was told that there would come a time in my life when the ordinary would become extraordinary – a time when a sunrise would no longer be just a sunrise and the concept of loving would all of a sudden seem so simple and unconditionally easy.
I was told that there would come a time in life when materialistic things would no longer seem so important or desired. There would come a time when what used to be so important would now seem trivial.
So I’ve been told.
We were told all kinds of things as we grew up but most of us never listened. We thought we knew better and like most things in life, we needed to experience it ourselves before we truly understood what they meant.
I experienced the same horror during my ride to the hospital last week as I did the day my twin daughters were born – 3 months premature. When I got that call, I was much farther than 25 miles away . In fact, I was in another country and the long car ride was replaced by a long plane ride. In both cases, I was reminded, not so subtly, of what was important in my life.
With the girls, our pregnancy was extremely difficult and stressful and unfortunately included a truly horrific sequence of events during and after their births. They spent several months in the Brigham & Women’s NICU clinging to life but as the hours, days, weeks, and months passed without being able to kiss them goodnight in their cribs or for a long time just waiting to hold them for the first time, we knew we had been truly blessed by the single most awe-inspiring force of our lives – our kids.
Nobody told me it would be so hard, so painful, and so humbling at times having kids because we want so very much to protect them, make them happy, and be the best parents we can be. Sometimes we fall short and we feel guilty for not being perfect.
But they did tell me that it would be the most beautiful feeling I’ve ever felt.
At the time, I didn’t believe them. Or maybe I just didn’t understand. Yet.
When I walked into the hospital emergency room last week and saw my son in pain with a broken leg, and he whimpered, “Daddy”, the same emotion took over that I experienced the night I sat in a rocker in a dimly lit room at the BWH NICU with my two little girls, each cradled in my arms, with their tiny smiles and wide eyes staring up at me in awe of the world they were born into.
In both circumstances, I knew they all felt a sense of comfort that I was there for them and that I would protect them. They didn’t need to be afraid anymore. That I would do anything for them.
It was at that point, I knew my life had changed forever.
I have been told that it doesn’t get easier being a parent. And this time, for once in my life, I believe them.