In my house there are generally only very good reasons to be out of the house before dawn, or very bad ones.

We received the call less than a week before. Words that strike fear in every parent’s heart. Possible melanoma. We swooped our four year old boy out of school, took him to see Star Wars at the theater, and started mentally preparing for surgery in less than a week. I- the compulsive investigator who spends weeks researching even the smallest purchases-avoided the internet like the plague. Nothing to do but wait, and do my very best to pretend like none of it was happening.

We woke him up and packed him into the car while it was still dark. He had a stuffed lion, which he has only recently taken to, and four star wars lego guys. We made it back to our room at our children’s hospital and he bravely got dressed. The sight of him in his outfit knocked the wind out of me. So I did what I could. I picked up the camera. It gave me purpose, it gave me distraction. Thank you, photography.

I got in my own scrubs and carried him back to the operating room. How long had it been since I last carried him, and when did he get so big? Once there, he cried because he didn’t want to sit on the table. I exhaled into my mask and we made a game of wiping off the condensation on my glasses. It’s amazing I was able to pull that off when I felt like I could barely breathe. They put the mask on his face, and that was it. My job was done. They ushered me out and there was nothing left to do but wait. So wait we did.

I couldn’t begin to wrap my mind around how much had already happened in a morning when we’d normally barely be out of bed.

They wheeled him back to us and he was crying, and swollen, but good. We took turns holding the phone while he watched despicable me…waiting to see if he could keep food down, waiting to get the iv out, waiting for it all to be behind us. He asked if next time he came back, he could bring some donut holes for the nurse. We locked eyes over the bed and our hearts broke open.

One week later and our news was good- no melanoma, but I may be forever haunted by some of the conversations overheard in that waiting room. For so many families, that morning changed their life. I’d like to say our morning made me a changed woman, that I’m living in every moment, that I’ve stopped snapping at my kids, and I’m breathing in bliss and breathing out fear. I’d like to say these things but that would be a lie. I’m back, just one week later, to “pick up your markers, “stop squeaking that toy”, and “oh dear lord did I just kick over your milk that you put on the floor again?!” We have to, I suppose, enlightenment isn’t that easy to come by.  But every now and then, a morning like that one is enough to make me want to try to do a little better. Even if it only lasts a day (and it did).*

*I swear that I am not nearly this melodramatic all the time. I’ll circle back around to irreverence, once I shake this experience.



Post a comment
  1. amsoell #
    March 16, 2012

    I’m so glad to hear that everything is back to normal in the Reno household. I love the photography, and we can certainly relate to the “photography as distraction” sentiment. I found the second photo to be particularly moving, thinking back to what I’m sure my posture must have been when we were in the hospital with our Lucy last year. Thanks for sharing this.

    • March 16, 2012

      Man this whole having kids thing is a roller coaster isn’t it? When something happens we all seem so fragile, it always astounds me after an injury/sickness that bad things don’t happen more often (knocking on every wooden surface around). Glad Lucy was ok.

  2. March 16, 2012

    my chest was tightening (and my eyes were crying) as i read this, so i can’t even fathom what this has been like for your families. he looks so small and brave in that first photo. i’m so relieved that the news was good and i hope you all never have to go through anything like this again.

    • March 16, 2012

      Indeed if this is the worst we have to face, I’ll take it.

  3. March 16, 2012

    Becky, both your words and photos were completely heartfelt and powerful! Gave me chills to read. I am so glad to hear that the news was good!!!

    • March 16, 2012

      Thanks! He bounced back quick. In fact, that same day we had to tell him to stop jumping off the couch. It’s crazy how resilient kids are.

  4. March 16, 2012

    Oh, Becky – how gut wrenching to have to go through that. Thank goodness it’s nothing serious. Here’s to lots and lots of normal mornings from now on!

    • March 16, 2012

      All too normal. He’s back to eating cold spaghetti, in his underwear, on the floor.

  5. joelynnej #
    March 16, 2012

    SO happy that the results were good. It does make you count your blessings. The twins were in the NNICU for a month after birth and the joy I felt at taking them home was mixed with that haunted feeling you mentioned. It just makes the normal morning that much sweeter. Great first post Lovely. xx

    • March 16, 2012

      Oh man, I can’t even imagine not being able to take them home. And for a month! Yes, normal mornings- sweet. Now if only I could remember that. Sweet. sweet. Sweet. (not crabby, bitchy, irritable). Maybe if I keep saying it, it will happen.

  6. Laura #
    March 16, 2012

    heat in throat and stomach in knots…
    very grateful he’s ok.
    he looks so tiny in that big gown.

    here’s to many boring morning ahead!

    • March 16, 2012

      Thanks! I’ll take boring mornings for awhile. 🙂

  7. Michelle Thomas #
    March 16, 2012

    Hi Becky…I just found you through April. The wonders of FB! I am glad your little guy is ok. You are right…roller coaster for sure!

    • Becky #
      March 17, 2012

      Thanks! Glad you found us. You should stick around for awhile, this one fantastic group of ladies. 🙂

  8. Jill #
    March 16, 2012

    Nothing – no matter how much you play with the masks at home to get them used to it or the cajoling that you do in the “holding” area – can prepare you for the nurse saying, “Just let me take them,” as your child is wailing and kicking because they are frightened. This brought back all sorts of memories from having tubes put in Jordan and Shelby’s ears. But the photo of Clint really got to me . . . because the waiting is the hardest part.

  9. lifeineden #
    March 20, 2012

    wow. so glad things are okay. surgery in kids is hard enough (we’ve done ear tubes, tonsils, hernia repair), but with many questions waiting to be answered still afterward … that is really tough. I did the NICU thing too with our twins (2 months) and that’s no fun either, but later you look back differently.

    these are great images Becky that really tell a story.

  10. Andrew Grant-Thomas #
    March 21, 2012

    DAG, Becky Reno. Hugs to you all.

  11. March 21, 2012

    he is such a wonderful boy. his face in the last photo makes me cry.

  12. lisanye #
    March 21, 2012

    so glad to hear the good news becky. looks like the whole family was brave that day.

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