Menu

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sick

The little boy looked so peaceful as he slept. With his eyes glued tightly and a little frown woven across his forehead, the 6-month-old seemed all but oblivious to the world around. His body, however, told a different story. As the boy's father tucked him in to bed that night, he felt an unusual glow of heat emanating from the sleeping baby. While it was true that the child normally radiated heat while he slept, and his cot was normally drenched by the beads of perspiration, however that night his temperature seemed particularly high. Out of concern, the boy's father decided to check his child's temperature. And the result sent a chill up his spine. 38.4 degrees Celsius.

The events of that night took place about two weeks ago and they still remain etched in my mind. When I confirmed that the temperature reading was accurate, the first thought that came to my mind was, "Thank God that E has already passed his 6-month birthday." The mental image that had entered my mind then was that of my older son Z, who came down with a fever before he was 3-months-old. In situations like that, we know we have to send the child directly to hospital as he could have meningitis, an infection of the brain and spine. What I saw vividly in my mind's eye was that of our poor son Z lying in the hospital cot, minutes before his lumbar puncture, the procedure during which doctors put a needle into the spine to test for meningitis. At that moment more than two years ago, I remember turning to my wife with the tears almost ready to flow. The question that was causing us so much inner distress then was, "Why does our poor son have to go through such a painful procedure?" I looked then into his soulful eyes, and couldn't bear to imagine what he was going through.

Looking back, I am thankful that the procedure went well and there was no meningitis. That was why when E first came down with fever two years after Z, my first reaction was to give thanks that my younger son would never have to go through what his older brother went through. That said, Sue and I still had to deal with the situation at hand, to feed our sick baby with fever medicine and to sponge him through the night, taking him to the doctor when the fever still had not subsided by the morning. 

To make matters worse, we realised three days later that E was not getting any better. Conversely, he seemed to have developed a bad cough and a rattling in his lungs at night. Our fears were confirmed when we took him to our pediatrician and she diagnosed him with a mild bronchitis. 

Already exhausted from caring from our younger son, the situation took another turn for the worse when our older son too developed a fever. Sue and I now had two sick children on our hands and we still had to deal with our day-to-day work in office and around the house. It was no surprise then that both Sue and I also fell sick and came down with fevers. In fact as I write this blog I am still coughing badly, a condition that does not allow me to recover quickly due to the nature of my job.

In situations like this, it sometimes seems natural to think of the worst-case scenario. What if something happens to one or both of our sons? What if we're no longer able to enjoy the precious moments of laughter and tears that our children bring? What if the Chinese idiom of 白头人送黑头人 (loosely translated as "the older person saying goodbye to the younger person") becomes a grim reality? 

A tragedy in Tampines just last month underscored how real such a situation can be. 13-year-old Nigel Yap was cycling home with his younger brother, 7-year-old Donovan, when they were killed by a cement mixer truck. The incident led to an outpouring of grief and many Singaporeans turned up at their funeral to pay their last respects. I was particularly struck by how young the two boys were, and also by how unexpected life (or death) can be. 

I couldn't bring myself to put on the shoes of the boys' parents, nor to imagine the pain that they were going through. What was especially powerful was the sharing that the mother gave at the wake. In spite of the pain that she was going through, the boys' mother was still able to declare that God is good. She also proclaimed that it was God who had saved her marriage and gave thanks to God for her sons; saying that she was much blessed because of them. And now, in the aftermath of her sons' death, Mrs Yap expressed confidence that her children are in Heaven and that she will one day meet them again.

In theory, what Mrs Yap shared is what I know I should cling on to in the event that anything happens to my young ones. However, it's not always easy to know how one would react when the situation materialises in his or her own life. Right now I know I can only hug my children tightly in my arms. Yet I know I will not be able to do this all the days of their lives. I have to trust that there is Someone greater than me who cares for them and loves them even more than I can ever love them. And I know I can rest secure that He will always be with them every moment of their lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment