My son almost died last month. My only son, whom I love with every breath I take, almost died in my arms for the second time in his life. He is twenty-four years old now. The first time was at birth. He was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, had surgery when he was a little over an hour old and has a foot long scar on his chest to prove it. His father and I divorced almost eight years ago. He moved to Asia and has lived there ever since. I stay in the city where I was born and raised, taking care of my father and providing a home base for our children.
A month ago my son called from Chicago around 7 PM in the evening, “I don’t feel right. Can you come and get me?”
“What’s wrong? Zach! I am three hours away! If it’s that bad get your ass to Northwestern!
“I don’t have a car, Lois, remember?” He has always called me Lois. Lois, Loey, Lobo, Lo Lo… anything but Mom.
“Dear God, Zach, call one of your cousins. They both have cars.”
“But, I want you to come and get me. I want to see my doctor.”
“Let me repeat, I am three hours away. What is wrong with you?”
“I’m not sure. This morning I was tying my shoe, then… I jumped up and threw my hands in the air and it felt like I pulled something in my chest where my pec muscle is.”
“You think you pulled a muscle and you want me to drive three hours to Chicago, then three hours back to Peoria so you can see a doctor?”
“No!” I hung up the phone in disgust. He had to be kidding, right? My thoughts were muddled. What if he were really hurt? He couldn’t be. He runs five miles a day. He plays basketball four times a week. He rock climbs at the gym a couple of times a week. He lifts weights. He eats healthier than anyone I know.
My phone rang again, “Please, please come and get me, Mom.”
I didn't think twice. He called me Mom. This was serious. I grabbed my purse, jumped in my car and headed north to Chicago. The sun was barely setting as I drove past cornfield after cornfield until I reached I-80. By the time I was rounding my way onto Lake Shore Drive, the city was lit with a million flickering lights. I pulled up in front of my son’s apartment and there he stood, my 6 foot tall, slender and strong boy child, his backpack slung over his shoulder, waiting for his Mommy with a smile on his face.
I got out of my car, threw my arms around him giving him a huge hug. He seemed fine. He seemed really fine. He was smiling and joking and happy. He didn't seem to be in any pain. Why was I here, exactly? I didn't question him. We headed back to Peoria down interstate 55, him sleeping most of the way. The closer I got to home the more I thought... a twenty-four year old man doesn't call his mommy at 7:30 on a Friday night to come and get him unless something is seriously wrong. I drove straight to the emergency room. It was 1:30 AM.
To be continued...