"Sometimes I have a hard time believing you are actually my mother."
Normally that type of talk would result in my feelings being hurt and I would have reprimanded her for being fresh.
But as my 8-year-old daughter lay in the hospital bed, hearing her sass return brought relief.
I had just danced and "spelled" out her name, V-I-V-I-E-N, in an effort to get her to smile, instead her sarcasm made me laugh.
It started with her throwing up Friday afternoon, paired with fevers. Tuesday they admitted her to Boston Children's Hospital and diagnosed her with a kidney infection.
Watching helplessly as your child is sick, there is no worse feeling.
You have to choke back your tears and put on a brave face so you don't scare her. Instead you bawl your eyes out during the 45-minute car home when you switch places with her father.
You force a smile and tell your child how amazing they are, that it's all going to be okay. You have zero control over the situation so you do what you can. Try to get her to eat, drink fluids, rest and know that you are there for her and repeat a thousand times how much you love her.
At night you don't sleep, instead you stare at her, making sure she is breathing. You look at her little body with an IV in her arm and thank God that there are educated people who know the correct plan to get your daughter healthy, because you certainly don't. You feel temporary guilt because you don't have all the answers and you try to play catch up--listening and processing medical terms that sound like a foreign language.
You pray. Over and over again you pray, asking and begging her to be okay. You thank the hard working nurses and doctors profusely for answering your every question, for checking her vitals, and making her stay as comfortable as possible.
You thank your friends and family who send prayers, balloons, cards, pictures, and healing thoughts.
A nurse comes to your home to show you how to use a picc line. It's overwhelming, all of this newness and information. But you listen, you learn and you adjust.
Finally, after five days in the hospital, she is home. You sit and quietly stare at her as she licks a popsicle watching Sponge Bob Squarepants.
Slowly autopilot gets turned off and your mind races with the "what ifs". You lean on those with the strongest shoulders and they provide you with support as you process the situation.
You thank God for hospitals like Children's for helping your family. You thank God for having the instincts to bring her to the pediatrician who assisted with getting her the proper help.
But ultimately, as you stare at your precious child, you thank God that she is okay.