About five years ago I stumbled upon a book by Jodi Picoult. Since then I’ve read many of her novels. I always have a few moments of envy when I start one of her books — she’s published more than ten novels! Then I let go of the envy and dig in — usually I finish them in record speed, staying up way past my bedtime to read the compelling tales she tells.
Yesterday I finished My Sister’s Keeper, a book about organ donation, siblings, family dynamics and the dilemmas parents face when their child isn’t healthy. I found it really powerful and thought-provoking.
Unfortunately two mornings after I started reading it, I found myself at the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room with our younger son who was having trouble breathing. My husband was there, as well as our older son, and once we were in the doctor’s care, and our son was receiving treatment, I found myself thinking of the parents in the novel. It all seemed a little too close to home.
My situation was not nearly the dramatic situation they faced in the novel — no transfusions or kidneys required — but still, I realized the fear and lack of control they felt. I also looked at the two siblings who are in my care and tried to think of how this trip was impacting my older son. Aside from the thrill of watching all the TV he wanted, was he worried about his brother, was he jealous of the attention, was he irritated to be at the hospital rather than at home?
While I was still paying attention to my older son, like the parents in the novel, I was pretty focused on his younger brother who was sick. As a parent in those situations, it’s hard not to be unequal in one’s focus. The child with the greater need in that moment gets more attention.
In our case, our older son got some individual attention today. He got to make his own trip to the after hours clinic at same said hospital, with me (sort of a date, he said) this afternoon. Why? He has a brutal case of pink eye that arrived yesterday when we returned home from the ER.
So for now, they’re 1 to 1.And I don’t plan to keep score. I pray that I never need to. Right now I’m just thankful that they are both recuperating and doing well.
Side note — I see on Jodi’s website that it looks like My Sister’s Keeper has been made into a movie. I think it will be a while before I can handle this story in motion picture form.