Blood Test, Acid Test

There was an unfamiliar toddler at the playground with a bandage on her arm and an anxious mom.

“Oh, you had a blood test,” I commiserated.

I hate blood test day, as you may remember.

I figured the blood draw was routine; lead tests are common here in San Francisco because of all the old buildings. In any event, I didn’t ask for details — I was just generically sympathetic.

Mom, however, after exactly twelve seconds of acquaintance, divulged that her toddler had a serious condition — not usually fatal, but definitely chronic and challenging.

I expressed concern as anyone would, but from her reaction I suspect she didn’t process a single word. She didn’t need advice or even compassion; she just needed to spill her story to a stranger, and I filled the bill.

Nothing can be worse than to watch, helplessly, as your child suffers.

She changed the subject and we chatted for a while. Before I went off to extract Boobaby from the bushes, I gave her my phone number, but I don’t think she’ll call.

Brushing the twigs from my baby, I silently thanked the gods for all ten fingers and every functional corpuscle. And I wondered — could I have said anything differently? Should I have pointed out how her baby was so clearly filled with a toddler’s joy despite her ordeal?

Or just being there without turning away — was that enough?