“Nate has a torn retina and a cataract.” The ophthalmologist explained after his intense examination of my son’s eye.
“We will be scheduling his surgery for the next few days.” He continued, as I looked at Nate who was sitting calmly, not making his usual noise. The complete lost of his vision could be seen in Nate’s stillness, low energy, and quiet resolve.
As I listened to the doctor, I tried to be strong, telling myself that I wasn’t going to cry. I couldn’t…..my son needed me. “I have cried enough over the past 10 years,” I said inwardly, “And this wasn’t going to break me.”
On the day of the surgery, Nate’s father and I drove to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, reporting to the Day Surgery area. After the pre-surgery procedures, I kissed my son on his forehead and whispered goodbye, as I watched two nurses wheel Nate away on a stretcher through double doors into the operating room.
We sat in the waiting room, for what seemed like an eternity. I watched the antics of talk shows play on the television and I thumbed through magazines. I also watched other parents come and go, leaving the waiting area, to meet their children in recovery. It was a long day, as I looked through the window at the darkness, that replaced the bright light that had ushered us in that morning. I was anxious, and ready for this to be over.
Suddenly, the nurse informed us that Nate’s surgery was complete and the doctor would be in with us shortly. When the physician finally arrived, we sat in the meeting area where he informed us of the results of Nate’s surgery. He shared that everything went well, as they were able to remove the cataract. However, the torn retina could not be repaired.
At that moment sadness filled me, as I could feel the waters from my eyes, attempt to release themselves, but like a damn, I held them back, not allowing them to be rush down my face.
After his post-op procedure instructions, Nate’s father and I were escorted to the recovery area where Nate laid sleeping. The first thing that I noticed was the white eye patches that covered my son’s eyes. I immediately leaned down and kissed him on his forehead, as one tear escaped from the corner of my eyes. I wiped it from my cheek, inwardly daring others not to come out.
After Nate was discharged, we arrived home and his father carried him to his room, kissing him before leaving. I looked at Nate, and then sat on the floor, leaning against his bed, as I wondered how did this happened. As those thoughts played through my head, Nate began to toss and turn. I stood up and watched as his hands touched his face, feeling the bandages that covered his eyes.
I tried to stop him from pulling them off, yet before I could, he had successfully removed them, revealing his swollen and closed eyes. At that moment, the gates were opened wide as tears gushed from my eyes. I couldn’t stop crying, as I sat next to Nate, looking at him through my glassy eyes. After what seemed like hours, of me wiping my face and blowing my nose, a feeling of calm came over me. It was peace.
I realized that I didn’t have to be strong. I didn’t have to hold it in. It’s all right to cry.