• Janet Sibanda

Heaven I Need a Hug

Anyone who has ever had to deal with a sick child knows the misery, that comes with being a mere spectator to the illness and suffering of their child. All you want is to bond your skin to your baby’s skin, and literally draw in all their pain. You watch helplessly, their little body wriggling and writhing from known or unknown  aching and discomfort, holding onto the prayers and hopes that the season will soon pass.

I have witnessed my children go through different types of illnesses and agonized through each ordeal. Each time, it felt fresh and new. Each time felt more intense than the one before. Sometimes, you think it would be better to pass on the child to someone less attached, so they objectively administer the care needed. After this, you get your child back as good as new. Other times, you think, 'no one should touch my child, only I can give them the best care.' The conflicted mind throws you into cyclones of emotion and confusion, most times driven by your worst fears.

Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.’

Life is not linear. The journey is not a straight road. You will get the good, the bad and the dirty thrown at you, but you have to keep on moving. Life stops when you stop. This lockdown my daughter got sick. In the beginning, I thought it was her usual melodramatic, attention-seeking

antics, until I realized the child was actually suffering. I beat myself up for not reacting earlier, though we managed to get her attended to in time. Almost a full month later, the child has not recovered, however, I’m thankful there are signs of improvement.

I came to realize the weekly doctor’s trips, meds administration, and feedback of the pain not ending, have taken their toll on me. More emotionally than physically. I cannot describe what I’m feeling; I know it’s an out of body experience. I am literally going through the motions daily like I’m on autopilot and failing to find relief from my subconscious fears. I’m like an overstretched string, ready to snap at anything that threatens to disturb this delicate balance between fear and numbness.

What I can only share to encourage others and hopefully my subconscious self is this:

  • Make each experience one for the history books: Her birthday is coming up and I’m going to cook up a storm just for her. I’m going to celebrate her wholly and completely. As I have said before, she was my gift from heaven.

  • Have a family Doctor or facility you can trust. As we were going through this phase, we had comfort in knowing there was a professional who personally cared for our child. She wasn't a random patient in a waiting room; she had a name, a relationship and a history. All the subsequent investigations and interventions were designed to restore that child, whom we all loved. My husband and I knew we could count on our Doctor to act in our baby's best interests. We love our Dr Katenga, but when she is not available, we default to the pediatric unit of Michael Gelfand. 

  • Be extra vigilant and alert. Do not wait too long to have your child assessed when they are off. It is better to err on the side of caution than to regret why certain decisions weren’t made sooner.

  • Always have a contingency fund. This I was taught soon after she was born. Always keep a random US$100 or more if you can, available in case of emergencies. You never know what will make the difference between life and death.

  • Keep your health care subscriptions up to date. You will never go wrong in keeping your health care subscriptions current. Though you may experience shortfalls, it makes a huge difference from paying the full fee. In all instances, stay positive and focus on the objective.

  • Love without reserve. Love without shame, love without conditions and love without reserve. Let your love be so pure and true, that they will neither question nor forget it. Alfred Lord Tennyson couldn’t have said it better when he said, 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’

  • Find a safe outlet. Sometimes, you just need someone to talk to, who will simply listen. My friends near and far have been tremendous in supporting me through this. Albeit my stubborn subconscious.

  • Find distractions to take your mind off the reality you are facing. Personally, I have turned to writing as an avenue of expression. I used to write poetry in my youth, then the passion drowned amidst the never-ending curves balls of life. My fear and turmoil unintentionally fueled a smoldering fire within. My first love is crocheting, but for some reason, I cannot bring myself to pick up my hooks. How I miss them. I have also found a love for gardening; I never knew I had and It’s keeping me centered. The idea is to find an outlet.

  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Most times you may feel isolated or burdened by the prospect of reaching out for a hand. The truth of the matter is, no man is an island, we survive and thrive on each other’s backs. Reach out and call someone to help in whatever way you need. We are not superhuman. Remember for you to help your child, you need some semblance of sanity, however, if both of you are delirious, who will be the parent.

  • Most importantly; pray. Because I am a Christian, prayer works for me. Though I know sometimes it is hard to pray, especially when you cannot find the words to express your true self. I personally struggled with this. Never-the-less, there is hope in the act of kneeling down and putting your faith in Christ. Take comfort in this scripture

Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

At the end of the day, we always have to function knowing there is hope in Christ. Sometimes not even in this life, but the life to come. Any parent(s) facing this challenge, know that you are not alone. Reach out, there is a hand willing and waiting to grab onto yours. They will carry you through this.

I leave you with these words from Thomas Moore, ‘Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.’

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