I Have a Few Issues.

Our summer started with Dylan getting sick. We went camping anyway, and when we got home, Shane got sick. So our first two weeks of “vacation” were quite restful – and not much fun.

One night at 4 a.m., early in his illness, Shane woke me out of a dead sleep.

“Mom?” he said in the darkness. “I have a few issues.”

(The poor child remembers when he was a toddler, and he’d wake me from a sound sleep. I used to leap out of bed screeching, “WHAT?! Why did you wake me up?!” I was a terrible night nurse for a few years. Now, though, I am a bit more balanced and mature.)

“What are your issues?” I asked, sitting up and reaching for his hand as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. He sat next to me on the bed.

“Well, I haven’t been able to sleep since 2:00. Maybe I got a little sleep but I don’t know and it’s been two hours. And my throat is still scratchy but the worst part is that my heart is beating like this.”

Shane tapped a really fast beat on my leg. Really fast.

I put my hand on his heart which was, indeed, pounding very rapidly.

“Okay,” I said. “Take a deep, slow breath.” He did. “Now do it again.” He did it again. His heart slowed a bit, so I had a feeling that it was mostly psychological.

“You’re better at this than Daddy,” Shane said. “I woke him up at 2:00 and told him about my heart. I asked him if he thought I would be all right and he said, ‘yeah.’ And then he went back to sleep.”

I felt proud. My night nurse behavior had improved.

I gave Shane some medicine, then walked him back to his room. Having lived through a few panic attacks myself, I knew how to slow that heart back into a regular rhythm.

“Just close your eyes,” I said as he climbed back into his own bed. “I don’t want you to think about anything. Just be aware of your body and breathe.”

I stroked his face and his hair, and he relaxed. I admired his beautiful little face. I thought, He’ll be in college soon enough, and we won’t have these moments anymore.

Then I realized: He’ll be in middle school in three months, and we won’t have these moments anymore.

After half an hour, I kissed his forehead and told him to come and find me again if he needed me.

“Okay,” Shane whispered.

Then I went back to my room and spent another hour trying to get myself back to sleep.

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