Remember that Metallica song, “Nothing Else Matters“? It came out in 1991, when I was young (well, younger anyway), newly married, without the marks of time that Estee Lauder and I have done our level best to undo, and above all, without children.
That song has been running through my head because I spent Tuesday and yesterday in the the hospital with my infant daughter, who was severely dehydrated by a five day bout of rotavirus. All the little things that had been preoccupying me — making sure the girls do their piano practice and eat more vegetables than Cinnamon Toast Crunch, making better progress with Elizabeth on her math, getting the blizzard of homeschool papers organized and filed, keeping the floor constantly swept and mopped becaue Portia crawls on it, writing my next blog post, organizing my closet, keeping up with the Obama Administration’s campaign of retribution against the diabolical Bush-Cheney torture mafia — suddenly didn’t matter. All that mattered was Portia getting well. Nothing else mattered.
My heart felt like it was breaking as the nurse was putting in the IV, so piteously did Portia scream. I thought of all the mothers in the centuries before there was such a thing as intravenous infusion. They had been spared that small torment, but suffered an immeasurably greater one when their infants could not be rehydrated, and so died. Today I thank God for allowing my children to be born in the age of modern medicine, when a severe case of gastroenteritis does not mean a death sentence for a baby.
Portia is now, unlike the U.S. economy, genuinely on the road to recovery. As she continues to improve, all my other concerns begin to press upon me again, but I bear in mind that as important as all the myriad concerns of daily life are, when your child is sick, truly, nothing else matters.