Some moments in life are definitive. The Before. The After.
I stormed out of the local laboratory, a sobbing Ammu behind me. The walk to the car seemed interminable. I knew I should have stopped, bent to her level, held her close, wiped her tears and walked slowly, together to the car. Yet, I seemed propelled by a feeling that consumed me, forcing me to widen the distance. To walk as if the distance will help with the understanding.
After an hour and a half or waiting, cajoling, holding, pacifying, sweet talking my newly minted nine-year-old into stretching her arm so she could have her blood drawn for a routine test, the slightly frazzled and mightily annoyed ladies declared they could not do it anymore.
“It is risky” they declared. I apologized. I apologized for wasting their time. I apologized for my child. I apologized for not knowing better. The sorry(s) merged into each other, resounding in my head long after I left the place.
I spent the day before and the morning today preparing my child mentally knowing her anxiety made her prone to tears and a fear that is irrational. Yet, what transpired today belied all expectations and experience.
Back home, I sat on the stairway, my child held close, my palm methodically rubbing her back until the sobs diminished. I spent the rest of the morning asking for advice, googling how to help an anxious child through blood draws.
Mostly, the part of me that rationally knew my child needed help finally met the heart, the empathy center. For probably the first time I saw my child the way I had to see her. As someone who is mortally scared of a tiny needle, as someone reacting to the fear and not being dramatic.
Where we go from here is a giant unknown but this is the dividing line. From here on out is the AFTER.