I am five years old. Replace five with three, four, six, eight, twelve… This is a memory replayed many times throughout my childhood. It is the middle of the night and I am standing on the righthand side of my parents’ bed. My dad’s side. I’m barefoot, curling my toes into the carpet, clutching my blankie to my face. I don’t want to wake them up, but I need them. Chronic ear infections make this a common reoccurrence. Awoken in the night by the drumming in my ears-the unstoppable pain. I hold off as long as I can before the pain is unbearable. That’s when I tiptoe in and just stand there waiting. Waiting for them to sense my presence.
It always felt like I stood there forever. Looking back on it now, perhaps it was a few minutes. I remember letting out soft sniffles…followed by a slight cough. Eventually they would feel me there. One of their heads would lift and then the sobs would come.
Next we would be in the kitchen. My dad fumbling with his otoscope, the light never charged when we needed it. So my dad would plug it in and we’d wait long enough for him to catch a spot of light to see just how bad the infection was this time. Meds were given and I was tucked back into bed until morning and the pain returned…further plans could be made.
These are the memories that get me out of bed in the middle of the night. Up the stairs to fetch a tissue for a stuffy nose, a bowl to catch the vomit, my hands to rub the little backs and reassure them that this too shall pass.