They’re holding his little 1-yr-old body down on the hospital bed. Like a wild animal he is screaming and squirming with blood all over his face. I am squeezing Mom’s hand and crying so hard that my throat is raw and my tear ducts dry. Blinding sunlight pours in through the window behind the bed onto the scene. A tall man in a white coat is bent over my little brother. A dozen other hospital people crowd around him. I am only thigh-high and I can’t see what he’s doing but he’s got a needle and thread and it sounds like he is stabbing my brother in the eye. Mom is shaking. Her black mascara running down her face and messy blond hair stuck to her head with sweat and tears. I want to save my brother so bad. I want to stop his pain. I want to kill that man hovering over him and make it stop. I can’t believe this is happening.
What an amazing thing it is to have a baby brother. I swear I thought he was mine from the minute Mom laid him down in front of me. I was only two and half years old but I knew exactly what to do to make him laugh, smile, giggle, and squirm. He was so fat and round – ten pounds when he was born- and too heavy for me to pick up. Mom let me feed him and play with him as much as I wanted. I would hug him all the time and kiss his face. His checks were puffy and soft and cool. Mom used to say his chubby legs were so cute that she wanted to eat them. I would’ve eaten them too if she offered me one. He was a delicious little baby and so totally different from me. He was quiet and always looking around. Taking everything in. Observing with big surprised eyes. I was always bouncing around, singing and dancing, trying to entertain him. Sometimes it was a puppet show with Burt, Ernie, and Cookie Monster with an upside-down cardboard box as our stage. Other times it was my impersonations of the Mouseketeers with my Mickey Mouse hat– and he would clap while I danced, and I would dance while he clapped. I just adored him from the minute I laid eyes on him.
The accident happened so fast. I was at the top of the stairs looking back. I was carrying some groceries for Mom. Lee slipped and fell, smashing his head on the bright orange ceramic pot. Lee started bleeding. Mom started screaming. Next thing I know we are in the emergency room, this torture scene where the doctors are trying to put my brother back together like Humpty Dumpty.
“Oh my God!” Mom is crying.
“Make it stop. Make it stop.” I yell.
“My baby!” Mom screams.
More wailing and squirming from Lee.
“They’re hurting him!” I say.
No one is listening to me.
“His little face. His precious little face.” Mom cries.
My body is filled with sensations and emotions that I did not yet have words for. My insides are hot and something is shaking me from the inside out. I tighten every muscle in my little body to keep from falling down.
They poke his face thirty times with the needle. I hear him screeching each time the needle pierces and tugs and pulls at his flesh. He has to get thirty stitches in his forehead over his right eye. Doctors said he was lucky he hit where he did or it could’ve been worse. I don’t think it was he was lucky at all. I saw what they did. I can’t believe somebody so little could stay awake through all that pain. I can’t believe I stood there and watched it happen. If suffering some pain is hard, watching someone suffer and not being able to do anything about it is a nightmare.