This is what pain looks like: 5 feet 2 inches of a 15-year-old boy curled in a ball, sheathed head to toe in his favorite fuzzy blanket, sobbing and cradling his arm bearing a fresh cut.
This is what rage looks like: a mother trembling in anger at a world that makes it so damn hard just to be a 15-year-old boy. It looks like the numbness in her face that sets in when she watches him leave with his dad for a second emergency visit to the children’s hospital in a month, worrying that they will just send them home again with a list of resources to access in case it happens again (update: that is exactly what they did).
This is what hope looks like: the rise and fall of a child’s back as his breath evens and the sobbing stops; when words of reason break through his desperation; when you say “I love you so much” and instead of rejecting your words, he whispers “OK.” Then there is hope. This will get better. It will be OK.
This is what fear looks like: an empty bed where a child should be sleeping soundly, instead of sitting for hours in a hospital emergency room; a mother who envisions scenarios beyond words when she sees the crumpled blankets holding space where her son should be.
This is what love feels like: knowing that you’ll stay awake for a week if that’s what it takes to keep your child safe; resolving to knock on doors, or knock down doors, until someone says they will help. Love feels like a friend and a sister who speak reassuring words and offer to help however you need it; words that deliver power to your cells that keep you going, placing one foot ahead of another, breathing one breath after another until you find a way to help your son heal his wounds.