Hannah Grieco: Light

by Kate on May 11, 2017

We are so incredibly proud of this year’s show! And we’d love to share it with everyone who couldn’t be there with us. We’ll be sharing the pieces that were read here (in show order) – which is about as close as we could get!  Our tenth reader was Hannah Grieco…


I stand over you, my hand on your back. Filled with something like gratitude, or maybe just exhausted relief, that you are finally asleep. The bare room, empty and cold, the white walls, the single gurney with one pillow and a see-through sheet covering the thin mattress. I am standing, because there is no chair here. Earlier I sat on the floor with you in the corner, holding you firmly against my chest.

In the room next to us there is a teenage girl who is groaning and occasionally screaming. She is fine. She wants to go home. NOBODY CAN KEEP HER HERE. And, in fact, she will leave in just a few hours with her grandmother.

But we will stay. Here in this room. Through the open door, I can see the nurse sitting and typing. She looks up and smiles a nice, gentle little smile at me, before going back to entering your family history, the medicines you take, your insurance information. Near her sits a very young security guard, who is sketching a picture for you. You told him how much you like Pokemon, Rayquaza specifically…and this guy is a secret artist, inside his guard uniform. He will leave that picture for you at the foot of your bed when he is done with his shift. There won’t be a chance to say goodbye, because you will still be asleep from the sedative they gave you.

You turned eight just a week ago.

Your face is so relaxed right now, so smooth. You could be anyone’s son, anyone’s baby, sleeping calm and lovely. I run my hand down your arm, which is terribly scratched, and I straighten your twisted t-shirt so it doesn’t pull hard against your throat. The string inside the waistband of your sweatpants was removed by that nurse, so I gently tug up the back of your pants to cover your Angry Birds underwear.

There is a shadow in the doorway. A tech has brought a blanket for you and a folding metal chair for me. I tuck you in and I sit. No purses allowed here, no iPads, no phones. I am not prepared for two days in a locked emergency unit.

I am not prepared for this new life I am living. A life I had no idea was before me.

Being a mother is hard work. Everyone says so. We update our statuses and start blogs. We read about sleep training and screen time. We talk about tantrums at Target, and we research literacy milestones, and we demand support against bullies in school. These are our struggles. Because we love our children so dearly, and every little moment has significance.

But why didn’t anyone ever tell me that one day my son would just desperately want one friend?

Why didn’t I ever read a chapter in a book about forgiveness, forgiveness for me, for not being able to give that to him?

I can give him everything…but I can’t give him a friend.

And maybe it would have been good for someone to say, “Hey mom- it’s possible your son might never be happy. Maybe you can make him smile. You can redirect his distress. And he will know you love him. He will feel safer with you than anyone else. But could be, he will never be happy. And could be you need to accept that, or at least think about that.”

Nobody talks about that.

Soon you will have a real bed, on an upstairs floor. Where people who are not me make sure you get dressed and eat and move from room to room. They will call me and inform me when I can visit you. They will tell me how you are the youngest one on the unit. How you barely slept and what your new medicines are helping with. They will let me know what the doctor has written down on the chart, and what the time frame is for taking you home. And on one particularly terrible visit, one of them will inform me that I am an unfit mother and he believes you shouldn’t come home with me at all. It will be the worst, darkest moment of my life.

But through this, through this darkness, I will dig deep and I will find light. Because you will come home with me. Because I would never let anyone keep you away. Because I know what all mothers know, when they talk and listen deeply- that I am the best mother for you. The perfect mother for you.

You have so many little, maybe big, moments of magic ahead of you. And I am there, I am here, and I am a part of that magic. I will grasp every moment, and glue it to the next one.  I will help you create light.

You are my light. My happiness. For you, I will talk and talk about that.

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