When the PICU attending physician came into Noah’s hospital room to tell me our son’s stool had killed dozens of mice at the CDC and wondered if Jason and I were going to “intubate” Noah, put him on life support, I asked the question we are all told NOT to ask, the question that is totally inappropriate, the one question that changes something, or someone, from abstract to absolutely personal…I said, “Would you do if it was your son?”
You see, I knew the rules. And they are important. Whether written or not, for people in the medical profession to treat their patients, especially children, they must develop a bit of a tough skin. It’s heart-wrenching to see suffering on a regular basis, no matter the age, especially those on the brink of death.
Again, I said, “Would you do if it was your son?” He said, donning full contact precautionary clothing (PPE) which had not been worn up to that point around Noah for the 3 weeks he had been at the hospital…
…he said, “Hell YES, I’d do it! I’d want to know why my kid’s diarrhea killed dozens of mice!!!!” It was what I needed to hear, and it was what took Noah’s treatment from exploratory abstract human with an unknown incurable situation to, “Oh my God! This could be MY son” type of treatment.
And so, I have a pre-teen daughter, one hungry for learning, a girl with a huge heart wise beyond her years, and she has access to education, formal and non-traditional, and she eats it up at every opportunity. And there are hundreds of Nigerian parents who also have daughters, a bit older than mine, equally as hungry to learn and to be challenged, to grow and learn, to aspire to callings such as doctor, teacher, mother, lawyer, pastor, advocate, farmer, community leader, whatever, and their hearts are wrecked!
And they are saying, crying out the unacceptable, “inappropriate” question, the one we all avoid as to maintain a thick skin, “What would you do if it was your daughter?” Because then we’d have to stop our modus operandi and personalize these stories…we’d have to feel.
We would have to feel.
But I think in America we are so numbed to pain and fear and conflict, we try to avoid it at all cost.
And have we stopped feeling? Just because we live an ocean away doesn’t mean we cannot both feel and make a difference. Stop and PRAY wherever you are. That is something.
I read a parenting book that is no longer in print about the 10 greatest gifts you can give your children. The only one I remember is to teach them this question, “How would that make you feel?” It imparts empathy and selflessness and an awareness or at least an awakening that we don’t live in bubbles and are not meant to avoid pain and conflict and heartache, but we were designed to enter into with others so they aren’t crushed entirely under the weight of it all.
We cannot single-handedly save the world from heartache, that’s a Divine job, but we can ask ourselves, “How would that make me feel?” and then love as best as we know how.
And my answer, like the PICU attending physician is, “Hell YES! I’ll help you get your daughters back!”