Of course it never happens when your phone is fully charged or there's someone free to babysit or you aren't in the middle of grocery shopping with a cart coming shockingly close to collapsing under the weight of its contents.
No, when it happens -- when you get a phone call that alerts you to the fact of your child's distressingly worrisome symptoms -- you'll be in the middle of a busy, messy day. Your kitchen deserves immediate attention. Your towels need to be thrown in the dryer. Your baby is ready for a nap. The frozen food in the trunk is in a perilously warm state. Your t-shirt is spouting the underarm evidence of a harried dash through a hot parking lot, and your arms ache from the effort of keeping that evidence under wraps.
You'll rush to the child's side and the little voice in your head that whispers I'm sure it's actually nothing; the teacher was just being cautious will be stomped out by the truth. She's sick. She clings to her teacher (that lovely soul) with arms gone limp and a melted look in her watery eyes. She oozes into your arms and you'll know: she is sick. Suddenly, feverishly, worryingly sick. Acute onset filters into your thoughts, a remembered remnant that cannot be explained.
So you'll forget about the dairy products in the back of the car and you'll pull your husband away from his work and you'll abandon dinner plans. You'll stare at her face in the rearview mirror, worrying about the way her head lolls to one side and the way her breathing hitches in the middle like a bellows that's grown stiff with age. You'll say I'd like for the Doctor to see her instead of we'll wait and see how she feels tomorrow. Because to think of her like this for anything more than the next few hours...
Your eyes will well with tears for her pain as she strains against its grip.
And in the doctor's office, when they speak kindly about lungs and bacteria and pneumonia and shots and x-rays and admittance, you'll wonder why you didn't charge your cell phone last night like you always do, because shouldn't you be able to call your mom in a time like this? But the red line of battery is razor-thin and blinking. You shouldn't have snapped that superfluous photo, but the moment has passed.
You'll panic that the baby needs to nurse but he's home with daddy. You'll fret about the inability to be everywhere at once. You'll manage to arrange a breastfeeding session at the doctor's office, and you'll marvel at the way it somehow all became simple when narrowed down to its essence: do what needs to be done.
It never happens when it would be easy. It never happens on a dull week. It never happens when you're capable or ready or organized. It happens on the last week of school, the first day of class, the night of the party, the weekend of the graduation, the hour of the meeting, the moment of inconvenience.
But it's heartening, isn't it? The way your world rearranges and becomes just wide enough to accommodate the hand you've been dealt? The way the clutter gets pushed aside, and all there is, all there ever will be, stares back at you with gloriously blue eyes and blazing pink cheeks, and wraps her hot hand around your weary fingers....
And you take care of your love.