Ryan Nesbit ~
From second through fifth grade, I mastered the art of being sick. I got out of school, soccer practice and piano lessons so that I could be the child I wanted to be--not sick, but loved, cared for.
Here was my recipe:
1. Wake up.
2. Feel anxious about the day to come (this was natural).
3. Let the anxiety morph into a sickly pallor.
4. Bolster suspected illness with refusal to eat Life cereal (it was always plain Life cereal; that's the kind of kid I was).
5. Gulp a mouthful of hot tea.
6. Place tea underneath tongue just so.
7. Insert thermometer beneath tongue.
8. Wait for Mom to enter, her caring furrowed deep in her brow.
9. 101 degrees Fahrenheit = no school today.
Damn, I was a manipulative kid; I know that now. One year, for the entire month of April, I didn't go to my weekly piano lessons once. They upset me, but I attributed my tears to a pollen allergy that somehow only acted up on the walk across the street to my piano teacher's home. I played sick more often than I actually was sick. Although I was too young to know what "manipulative" meant, I felt guilty about pretending.
Simin G. Roward ~
What I remember most about that day
is the silence in your eyes
when they rushed you in and how you
only started crying
when the nurse tried to put in an IV
as if the holes made in your body by the
bullets of an automatic rifle
aimed at you at church
and the memory of your mother
dying in the pew
were a pain of a different level
that your beautiful five-year-old heart couldn't contain
and it took the poke of a small needle for you to
begin to feel human again
and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry we couldn't save you all