helpless mothers, helpful fathers

In ALL, ILLNESS, SNIPS & SNAILS by Stephanie Klein25 Comments


Lucas Beckett went in for his MRI today, and Abigail shat herself. Of all mornings, of course she’d pick today, the only day we need to be up super early and be out the door on time to get LB to the hospital. Abigail rips off her diaper, and I find her in her crib, sitting cross-legged, weaving her poop between her fingers as if she were playing a civilized game of Cats & Cradles. No! So I yanked her out and plunked her in a cold bath, making her clean up. The true highlight was having to scrape under her fingernails with the tip of a barrette. It’s all I could find, and we were already running late.

Phil and I tag-teamed Abigail’s lunch last night (we really do work well, our best, really, under times of severe stress*), but there was breakfast to consider. Abigail kept asking for breakfast, but Lucas couldn’t eat or drink anything, not even water, before his "procedure," so we decided that I’d drop Phil and Lucas off at the hospital while I took Little Miss to school.

I reach the school to realize she still hasn’t had breakfast, and we’re a half-hour early, before the doors are even open. We swing by a new donut shop around the corner. Abigail presses both hands on the glass, her eyes as big as cups, inspecting the donut world spread out before her. "I want my bagel with sprinkles, Mama." I point to the chocolate dipped donuts with rainbow sprinkles.

"She’d like this one please."

"And one for Lucas, too, Mama."

"Two, please."

"’Cause he’s at hospital with doctor for baby boo boo in his head, right?"

"Yes, poop girl."

As I rushed back to the hospital I checked my phone, looking for a text indicating a room number. Nothing. I called Phil. No answer. I park. I speed-demon walk across the lot. Then I’m suddenly standing beside a round information desk, asking a security guard where my son might be. I zoom down the steps to surgery. Then I pull it together. Phil still hasn’t sent me a room number, hasn’t called or emailed to update me on where they are, and I’m trying to seem like a normal person, saying please, excuse me, thank you–wanting so much to scream WHERE IS MY SON?

Yes, we’re here for diagnostic reasons, this time. But being here is more familiar than it should be; it’s like I never left. I remember, in remarkable detail, the phone conversations I’ve had in this surgery waiting room, waiting for news, frantic. And that was all before Lucas could even speak. But now it’s harder; I love him more. I never believed in more when it came to love, but now I get it. I love him more because I know him more. I know his favorite animal, his favorite sleep position, and the curve of his chin when he smiles at his sister. And it breaks my heart… the thought of a dark mask with tubing over his face, putting him under.

I wanted to be there though, to hold his hand, but I couldn’t find Phil, and it made me want to sink my teeth into his flesh. WTF?! Each room to which the staff directed me was empty. A nurse finally told me, "Dad’s on his way out to the waiting room now. Your son is already in the procedure."

I sat in the waiting room, all tight and neat. A pin of a person. I hear Phil’s voice, "Hey." I can’t talk. I’m in this frenzied angry place, and I know it’s not his fault, but I want to blame someone because I’m scared.

"Why didn’t you answer, or text, or email. Anything?"

"My stomach was killing me," he whispers.

And then I broke down and cried, big fat tears and an ugly cry face, like full-on Claire Danes cry.

I’m not alone in this, but I feel it buried so deep inside that it’s hard to imagine I could be sharing it with anyone. I needed a moment.

Then I saw a Thomas the Train balloon bounce by, and I was ready to shop, to buy the whole world for our sweet Kind Sir. Results are hopefully in tomorrow.



  1. i’m not yet married, and i do not have children, but wow. you made me cry at the end of this one. not “claire danes” style, but “at my desk style,” tight-lipped and hand covering the half of my face not hidden by my cubicle.

  2. Stephanie this post brought tears to my eyes. It is so beautifully written as always but I also can relate to this situation somewhat but in a different type of way. Although I am not a parent I have had cancer and go for these kinds of tests and checkups at the same hospital where I had all of my surgery. Walking into the building brings it all back…hell, riding on the Metro north train to NYC makes me sick and hysterical. All the details of everything replay inside my head each time.

    I am glad you and Phil have each other as support through these difficult times with your little boy. He is in my thoughts and prayers as you wait for results. Sending positive vibs to you and yours…


  3. I know what you mean about ‘loving more’. Never could I imagine that the secret bump under my shirt would turn out to be the most incredible, nearly 19 year old man, that I proudly call my son.

    I loved him the first second I knew of him, and fell under his spell the instant I met him – all 9 lbs. of him. Over the years, his funny, sweet self developed; crooked glasses, teasing his sisters, doing his thing his way…and my love grew. Then watching as he became a man who cares for and nurtures his family, protects his sisters, helps the grandparents…how can one have such love? Now, he’s the man who sends random text messages from college to see how my day is, and calls just when I need to hear his sweet voice. Sigh….life is grand.

    I’m so glad Lucas came through fine…and I know you will have a lifetime to “love him more”.

  4. ‘I love him more because I know him more’. B*E*A*U*T*I*F*U*L

    Thinking of you tonight and tomorrow.


  5. This was so well written. Reminded me of that Lorrie Moore story about her son and cancer.

    Totally with you noisily, messily crying than next moment you are on what feels like a clear eyed mission to buy.

    I hope everything goes well.

  6. Yay, Abigail, for breaking up the tension of the morning with a poop session! (grin)

  7. I was angry at Phil too…and wanted to say this “Why didn’t you answer, or text, or email. Anything?” to him as well.

    Then I got to this:
    “My stomach was killing me,” and i started balling my eyes out too.

    Oh man, I cannot imagine how hard it must be to go through all you both have gone through with Lucas and Phil’s health.

    You’re all always in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. Great post, Stephanie. Sorry you are going through this. I am praying for good results for Lucas, and for all of you.

  9. he is such an adorable little boy!

    your family is in my thoughts and i wish you all the best news..

    great post, too.

  10. This post made me cry – and I’m thinking of you and your family today and wishing all the best for Lucas.

    I was happy to see his middle name. I just named my 2nd son (born this July) Beckett and get mixed signals when I tell people his name. Just reassuring to know this name is loved elsewhere!

  11. This post made me feel anxious an I’m not even the one going through it!

    You and Lucas are in my thoughts and prayers..

  12. Fingers crossed, sending positive thoughts and pixie dust, and saying lots of prayers that the test results are more than 100% A-Ok.

    And, all I could think while reading your post was Whoo-hoo – Phil is sharing!

    Hope all is well.

  13. “Your life, as you know it… is gone. Never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk… and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.”

    Life is just one big ever changing moment. He’ll be back in your arms before you know it.
    Only positive thoughts here.

  14. cj,
    I think Phil was in the shitter, hence why she couldnt find him.
    Still…coulda texted from the shitter, Phil. Shame on you! :)

  15. I don’t see a place to respond to the video about the ‘marriage questionnaire,’ so I’m responding here.

    I just wanted to say, Go Phil!! I thought the wording of the questionnaire — goals, assessment, etc. — was absolute total bullshit, and it made me feel So Good when Phil said, “It’s not a business; it’s a marriage.” I _love_ it that he resisted that corporate/pop-psych BS. I never had an opinion of Phil before one way or the other, but now — sky high! Go Phil: you’ve got a terrific BS detector. Don’t ever lose it.

  16. My heart that is two times to small grew a little today, and my eyes are wet. WTF? Hoping for peace for you and Phil while you await results, and all the best to Kind Sir.

    1. Author

      Thank you all for all the good thoughts and prayers. We haven’t discussed the results with his doctor yet. We’re still scheduling the appointment. Once the doctor reviews the films, we’ll meet with him to discuss the results.

  17. Stephanie I hope everything goes well. I knew Dell Children’s Hospital a whole helluva lot better than I ever wanted to so I undertand what you’re going through. Good thoughts to Lucas and your entire family.

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