When you sleep with a child of innocence, especially one who is sick
and wants the comfort of another human being to reinforce his or her
battle with the sickness, you enter into a special zone--the zone of
Sentinel of Children's Safety. I entered that zone
the other day, and it was a great feeling.
Saturday, March 6,
2004—Ground Zero Plus 906
Sleeping With The Child Of Innocence
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Mar. 6, 2004 -- Yesterday I slept with
the Child of Innocence.
protecting my grandson from the Beast of Viral Terror
I was protecting him from the Beast of Viral Terror.
He was under attack.
Angus is his name.
Angus is my 20-month old
grandson. He calls me Ba-Ba, for no particular reason
other than perhaps the making of those sounds are easier than others.
In New York City a virus has
swept through the city of eight million, attacking young children
particularly. It causes fever, vomiting and diarrhea--and,
a lot of crying and pain.
Over the past week my
daughter, son-in-law and wife have been the main line of care for
Angus, assisted by Angus' seven-year-old brother, Matt, and
five-year-old sister, Sarah who do their best to try and get Angus to
smile and break the two-hour crying stints that accompany the pain and
suffering (especially when mommy is not home).
Of course, doctors are
monitoring Angus by phone, with certain deadlines for his body to
respond to medicine, and if they aren't met, for him to be taken to
the hospital. During the main crisis, he was within ten
minutes of responding before being rushed to the emergency room, but
at the last minute, he reacted positively.
Vigilance was poised.
Yesterday, I volunteered
to spend the afternoon with Angus to give everyone else a break.
He was starting on the downside of the sickness, still battered by it,
but not in fierce combat with Beast of Viral Terror.
and acted far from his usual radiating self
He looked like the combat vet who straggles back to the main
headquarters after being on the front line far too long--hollow eyes,
droopy eyelids, face gaunt, shoulders slumped, skin pallored, thinner
and an aura of lethargy pulsing slowly from his usually radiating
Angus likes to sit next
to me on the couch and play with his toy cars. He
brought them over in a box and we played with them for a while.
He ran the trucks up my arm and I ran mine down my arms. We
collided and then started our different journeys again and again.
Unlike usual play, Angus was slow,
methodical, not animated in his movements as he might have been in
normal times. He made no sounds. He would look
up at me, his big brown eyes staring at the monolith of flesh sitting
next to him. I am a mountain to him, I'm sure, at six-four and
275 pounds versus his 33 pounds - less those he lost; I must resemble
some block of granite.
Angus hadn't had his nap.
I told him we were going to
read a book and to get one. I went into his bedroom and
laid down on the bottom bunk. Angus came in with his book
and crawled over the top of me and laid his head in the crook of my
I began to read the book to
him. He likes to turn the pages and his small hand reached up to
move a page now and then. I kept on reading until his
little hand stopped turning the pages.
Glancing down, I saw his head
nestled in the crook of my large arm, eyes shut. I thought
about getting up and letting him sleep more comfortably, and then
realized I too was tired and that my movements might awaken him.
He hadn't had much sleep over the past week.
I was a
Sentinel on a Listening Post
I began to
doze, alert to any movement he might make, and especially to my own.
I thought of rolling over and smothering him, so I kept my alert
lights on bright. I must have woken up ten or more
times from a light sleep, as though I were a Sentinel on a Listening
Post deep in enemy territory, my ear cocked to any sound that might
signal the presence of the enemy.
In the crook of my arm was the
most precious of all treasures, the trust of a little child.
I had forgotten how powerful a feeling it was to have a child sleeping
next to you, his whole being counting on you to protect him from harm.
I looked at Angus' face.
His eyes were shut, his cheeks rosy. His chest rose and fell
rhythmically, inhaling and exhaling the essence of life. Inside
his body I knew he was fighting the rest of the battle. His
immune system was cleaning up the battlefield, patching up the
wounded, regenerating damaged cells. Angus had lost
weight in his bout with the Terror Virus. It would take a while
to get him back to par.
I felt like a true Sentinel of
Vigilance in that bed with my second generation flesh and blood.
Sometimes I get detached from the idea of Vigilance, that it seems out
of reach, well beyond imagination. But then yesterday, I was
brought to the reality of its meaning.
and was reassured I was there
Angus trusted me. As he slept, he would pat his
small hand on my chest, a reassurance that someone was next to him,
there to comfort and protect him.
The job of all
adults is to protect the children
finally tried to dislodge myself from him so I could get up and answer
the phone that was ringing, he rolled to his side and placed his
sleeping head on my chest. I lay there for a long moment,
savoring the sense that he was embracing my protection, reminding me
that my job and the job of all adults is to protect the children from
the ravages of the Beast of Terror who seeks to undermine the
children's health--whether it be physical or emotional.
I waited until Angus
rolled onto his back and then slipped out of the bed. As I
did, Angus' eyes flicked open. He looked at me as I
stood up, a long look of contentment and affection.
I felt good
that I was Angus' Sentinel of Vigilance
I went out into the living room to answer the phone, but it was now
quiet. I thought perhaps Angus would fall back to
sleep, but he didn't. He walked sleepily out of the
bedroom and went to couch and patted it for me to sit down.
I came over and sat down, then he climbed up and snuggled next to me,
looking up at me with those big brown eyes.
I was his Sentinel
of Vigilance, asleep or awake, for that moment.
It felt good.
Mar 5--Umpiring The
Beast Of Terror Within