Images and scenes of sick or dying children have invaded my dreams. I don't remember most of what goes on in my head when I'm sleeping, but the past couple of weeks have contained some sad, but uplifting moments that obviously tie to my fears for my son and his health.
This morning, my dream began with me losing control of my bladder and having to take refuge in a disgusting, two stall shopping mall bathroom to wait for someone to bring me a fresh pair of clothes. While I wait, the miracle of dreaming dries my shorts and shoes and I decide to leave. However, I run into Julie, carrying some jeans and a T-shirt, and she insists that I go back and change. I return to the crappy bathroom and now it's got a line nearly going out the door. Among the people waiting is a teenage boy, maybe 15, confined to a wheelchair. his leg is in a brace and his head appears to be the only normal sized portion of his body. The rest of him is withered and sickly, barely there.
The boy- a blond, cheerful looking kid- is with his younger brother. He never calls him his brother, but you can tell by the way they interact that there is a bond and an understanding between the two of them. While the rest of te men in the room are doing their best not to look at the sick boy in the wheelchair, the little one talks to him and plays with him as if there is nothing wrong with him. It's like my children getting along. Anyway, I try not to stare at the young man in his wheelchair. However, he is waiting for the bigger stall, so he keeps letting people go before him since he and his chair can't fit in the smaller of the two stalls. I wind up waiting directly behind him. I can't help but to make eye contact since his little sibling keeps running around me. At some point, he apologizes for his brother's behavior and we begin to talk.
Suddenly we're in a bank, waiting to see a teller. I ask simple questions so as to not be rude. In truth, I'm trying not to look at the boy's body, which is as skin and bones as a concentration camp survivor. Somehow we get on the subject of sports and he informs me that he used to play soccer and he used to play track. The sight of this kid makes me wonder how that's possible. Was he a special Olympics kid? The disabled teller window opens up and the boy leaves me. I can't help but feel that I've just met a brave young man. I get to my teller window and she has a pamphlet about the boy. It's fundraiser announcement to try and raise money for some rare disease that strikes 1 and a million kids. In the world there are only 3 people currently living with the disease, and the boy I just met is one of them. Thus, his odds of surviving in the next year or so are slim.
I glance one more time at the boy, laughing with the teller and making a deposit. "He's going to die," I think, "and he must know it."
I leave the bank., carrying the pamphlet, trying to think of some way I can make myself useful.
And then I woke up.
I got out of bed and checked in on Jacob, sleeping soundly under an electric blanket, wondering to myself how I can make myself useful today.