The Little Crying Boy
by Ray Fowler, MD
Copyright Jan 1, 1988

(Time in Space Home)

            A little boy came to my office one day because he couldn’t stop crying.

            It seemed that this little boy’s father had been buried that day, and, at the funeral, the little boy had begun to cry hysterically, sobbing loudly that he wanted to die too, to go and be with his father in heaven.

            This was more than his mother could bear, so she brought her son to me. Entering the room, I looked at the pair, both consumed in their grief. “Dr. Fowler, could you give my son something to calm him? He’s so upset about his father’s death that at the funeral he said that he wanted to die and go to be with Papa.”

            Some things I can handle just fine: Blood, gore, cuts, fractures; these things are no problem for my sensitivity. But, people’s grief, especially the shared sorrow among family members for a lost loved one, is so hard for me to deal with at arm’s length. My heart softens quickly at the side of a family unit who has lost a part of their minds, a part of their very lives.

            Sooner or later I had to look the little boy in the face. His eyes were wide open, reddened from his sobbing only a few minutes before. He seemed dazed, his gaze glassy and his cheeks tear-streaked.

            "I’m so sorry about your Dad," I said. He didn’t say anything for a moment, only nodding slowly as his eyes filled again with tears. Then, I leaned to him and held his hand for a moment, unsure of the relevance of anything I had to say.

            "You know, sometimes God loves a few special people so much that He wants them to come live with Him in Heaven," I whispered to him softly, my own eyes now filled with tears. My voice cracked after that and I couldn’t speak.

            "You’ll be with him tonight?” I asked her mother. She said that she would. At this point my Paramedic appeared at my shoulder. I murmured to him to give the little guy an injection of a mild sedative. Reassuring his mother that I felt that this was an understandable anxiety reaction that would pass, I turned my back on the pair and went to the next patient.

            Several days passed. My practice kept my thoughts turned to healing matters of all types. The little boy and his sorrow were forgotten for the moment..

            Then, an evening came at my clinic on Highway 5 when it seemed that most of the people of Douglas County had the flu at the same time and had come to see me. The rooms and halls of my clinic were filled with the moans and groans of misery.

            Emergency medicine is a unique breed of patient care. I must move from room to room constantly, seeing what I see, analyzing data continuously, forming impressions of the people and the problems that I confront.

            My Paramedic stuck a chart in my hand and “indexed” me to the next curtain. Brushing aside the curtain, I entered the cubicle. There was the familiar scene of mother and daughter, the little girl coughing and feverish. A routine exam followed, and medications were prescribed to deal with the problem.

            As I leaned against the counter writing the prescriptions for the little girl, his mother walked softly up to me and quietly said, "I only had to give him one of those pills you prescribed," referring to her son who had been in the room with her daughter while I was examining her.

            I nodded, my thoughts engrossed in the mechanisms of disease and of the patients I had yet to see.

            "He was fine the next morning when he woke up," the mother offered.

            "Great!" I exclaimed, distantly.

            "He said Papa came to him during the night and, after that, everything was alright," she concluded.

            Remembrance flooded my mind as that little boy’s face from the week before, with the tears and the red eyes, melted into the smiling features of the child in the back of the exam room with his sister.

            "What did you say?" I asked, a little too sharply.

            "He told me the next morning that his father had come to see him during the night. He had been sick for so long and in the hospital; he had had all of those tubes going in him, and he had been so uncomfortable and in such pain," she said. "When Papa came to him in the night, he wasn’t sick any more. He was wearing a long white robe and was surrounded by a golden light. He told my son that he wasn’t in pain any longer, and that he felt well and strong."

            These sorts of stories paralyze me, with tears springing to my eyes and my heart pounding. The mother went on, "And, at the last of his dream, Papa said that he loved him and would always be with him. When my son woke the next morning, he was fine and not sad any more."

            My mind was reeling from this story, so rich and personal, so cloaked in the hazy matters of the supernatural. I turned to the mother and saw the peace in her heart that the event had brought her.

            And, I turned to the little boy, whose ear to ear smile wreathed his face in childlike joy, and gave him a big hug and kiss. Then, I sent them on their way, and excused myself to my office for a few minutes to dry my eyes before returning to my patients.

            These days here in my home town bring such sustaining joy to me as I mingle medically with the lives of friends and strangers. It is so good to be home.