The ill friend is a boy we've known since he was young because he was a classmate of my son's since then, then they ended up in yeshivah together after graduating 8th grade.
The boy is a very good-natured & cheerful kid and the news was devastating. We've all been davening for him regularly, but still.
Anyway, to understand the upcoming story, it's important to know that this teenage son of mine received a rabbinical exemption from fasting on all fast days except Yom Kippur (and on Tisha B'Av, he needs to last as long as he can, but he's ultimately allowed to eat).
Because fasting really knocks him out.
Anyway, the day he went to visit his sick friend at the hospital, my son hadn't eaten much dinner the night before and ate only a bowl of cornflakes and milk that morning. After the mid-morning visit, he planned to head back to yeshivah for a hot, filling lunch.
Only he didn't count on the fact that in addition to hitting low blood sugar by the time he arrived at the hospital, his ill friend was in pretty bad-looking shape. The ill boy just didn't look like himself at all; my son claimed that even the shape of his head was different.
Also, the ill boy was just after a treatment and still drugged.
In the middle of the visit, my son realized he wasn't feeling well, and excused himself to get a drink of water.
But then he suddenly passed out, hitting his forehead on the metal corner of the bed on his way down.
He revived soon enough and was transported to the emergency room, upon which I received a phone call from the nurse there, who pleasantly told me that I needed to come right away.
At first, I had no idea who she was and where she was calling from or about. (My son went straight from yeshivah to the hospital and I'd no idea he'd done so, plus the nurse wasn't clear; she didn't even say where she was calling from at first.)
After asking her several questions, I finally realized what had happened. I told her I would come, then I called my husband to figure out logistics. Getting to that hospital takes an hour on 2 buses or 25 minutes in an expensive taxi.
That wouldn't be so bad except that my 4.5-year-old was due home in another couple of hours, and someone needed to be there for him. He has always resisted playing at anyone's home without me, so asking a neighbor to take him in wasn't an option.
Then my teenage son called me and said he was totally fine and didn't need for anyone to come.
And he did sound fine.
Then my husband decided to go to the hospital anyway while I stayed to receive our youngest.
Yet during that time, things took a turn for the worse, and my son vomited, which is a possible sign of skull damage after a head injury.
So they hooked him up to a water IV and hydrated him.
His co-visitor from yeshivah stayed with him until my husband arrived, and let our son use his cell phone to keep in contact with us.
Now my son sounded really weak.
Meanwhile, I thought the whole thing was playing out with a lot of strangeness.
Then my husband arrived at the hospital.
By the afternoon, my son still hadn't eaten and I felt that his weakness was due to lack of calories. He was well-hydrated now, but what about food?
I asked if they could give him a food-IV like they do to unconscious people, but the nurse told my husband that's impossible.
I felt helpless being far away when I thought I could easily remedy things with some juice and soup.
Then they wanted to keep my son for observation, so they hospitalized him for the night.
This was really getting out of hand.
Also, it was Thursday night and there was a hint that he might need to stay there for Shabbos, for which I'd want to be with him, which would mean that our youngest would stay with my husband, and we'd need to figure out logistics for the kids who would be home for Shabbat, plus preparing for Shabbat.
The whole time I was thinking, He just needs to eat! He's been in a partial fast for hours – he just needs to eat!
Yet when he did eat a little bit, he vomited.
And because of the IV, we knew it could no longer be dehydration.
So we were all concerned about the slight possibility of a head injury.
So we were all davening a lot (including his siblings) and I took on a couple of kabbalot.
Two more friends from yeshivah came to visit the ill boy, and that boy's mother kindly directed them to visit my son too.
The ill boy's married pregnant sister called me to tell me that she had been in the room at the time, tried to catch my son as he dropped, but didn't succeed.
I told her that for the sake of her pregnancy, I'm glad she didn't catch him. He's pretty heavy.
She expressed concern for my son's condition on behalf of their family. I was so touched by their concern when they were going through something so much worse.
What good, caring people they are. They're a good example for me to follow.
By this time, darkness had fallen and my oldest son (age 22) came home from work, and expressed willingness to be the one to spend the night with our teenage son. He ate, collected his things, rushed off to the hospital to relieve my husband.
(He also missed the wedding of good friend to do this chessed.)
Being the much-adored older brother to this teenage son, the teenage son started looking better the minute his much-adored older brother appeared.
My husband and I both felt secure with our oldest son there as he is a pretty competent with the ability to totally focus on the needs of another when necessary, and who is also good at keeping his head in even very stressful situations.
Sure enough, his younger brother woke him up at 4 in the morning to eat. So the older brother bought him tuna & crackers, which the younger ate without vomiting. Then they took a walk around together and the older sent us a text saying that his brother had eaten and was fine, so we would see these happy tidings when we woke up.
Very responsible & thoughtful of him.
Because it takes forever to get approved to leave a hospital, they were only able to leave a couple of hours before Shabbat.
And they both came home in an excellent mood.
What were Hashem's Messages Here?
But what were some lessons to be gleaned?
- Awareness of how exhausting and nerve-wracking it is to deal with a hospitalized child. His sick friend is one of 10 children. All the logistics we needed to work out this one time for something minor with our son is unfortunately part & parcel of their DAILY life dealing with a severely ill child. And the end is not yet in sight (may he be cured quickly and completely). This situation definitely increased my compassion & empathy for those who suffer.
- Increased tefillah by all of us is both possible and helpful, baruch Hashem.
- This particular son REALLY needs to make sure he eats properly and in a timely fashion, especially before doing something emotionally stressful.
- The kabbalot I took on for that time period were things I'd been pushing off as "too hard," but now they suddenly seem doable (because I did them). Increased spiritual momentum has been discovered, which I've been able to further utilize.
- Increased gratitude toward Hashem for whapping us in the face with what life could be like otherwise and what life IS like for other people, may Hashem grant everyone a speedy & complete refuah.
- Appreciation for how selfless it's possible to be in a really awful situation, as shown by the seriously ill boy's family and their concern for our son when their son/brother is so much worse off. Mi k'amcha Yisrael? Such special people. I really hope Hashem answers their tefillot l'tovah.
- We really need to increase our davening for the seriously ill boy.
And that was part our Elul saga thus far.