Holding Vigil

I am a mother.  Yes, I am also a wife, a daughter, a nurse, a midwife, a friend.  But motherhood, it is the strongest, most primal role I play on this earth.

To walk away from my child who was in pain and suffering goes against every fiber of my being.  But tonight, I had to leave my child alone at the entrance to the hospital and walk away.  I am gutted.

My child was suffering from a mental health crisis.  He was not making sense. He was crying out for help.  He, the 23 year old youngest of our three children walked into the cold sterile emergency room to seek help sorting out the storm raging inside his mind. The storm that had been brewing for some time.

We walked him to the hospital emergency room entrance,

 walked away,

then waited.

My husband and I staged a vigil in our car for well over an two hours waiting for an update.  We felt dread and relief in tandem as we answered the phone.  “….we are trying to stabilize him…suicidal thoughts…. no restraints….mandatory hold…..finding an inpatient bed…….”.  

All well-intended providers,

all doing their best…but he was alone, without me.


He had been reaching out to his doctor, seeking counseling and waiting to begin intensive out patient treatment.  His medication was adjusted, he was following all the advice and only getting more symptomatic. Spiraling thoughts, erratic behavior, his partner and I worried and waited for relief for him. It did not come. Failed treatment.

Instead we faced a cascade of verbosity, he would rapidly speak uncontrollably every thought, hyper aware of every noise and every movement. Any sound seemed to escalate the growing storm brewing in him.  Then it was all too much, he was lost, yelling, begging for silence, for respite, for relief.


So, in the time of the pandemic,  we drove to the hospital.  The very epicenter of COVID treatment  and we left him there without us. Alone. I pray someone will show him kindness, someone please check his blood sugars and be sure he gets the insulin he needs to live, listen to him, be kind.

Heaven knows he knows hospitals, but he has never been there alone. I have been with him. To help advocate, to fill in the blanks, to listen, to support, to mother.

This night, I was instead,

in the car

in the parking lot

holding vigil.

7 thoughts on “Holding Vigil”

  1. Oh Kat,  I am so so sorry that Sawyer is in such pain, that you and Ken are having to stand vigil.  I will stand vigil also…all of us will.  Please keep writing.  I can help in any way that is good, but I guess that none of us knows what that is right now.  For now please know that I love you and I am standing vigil from afar …Whatever you need…GASSent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


  2. Dear Kat, I can’t imagine how scary and sad that experience was. He has so many challenges, but meets them with a smile and positive attitude. He got that from you. That he’s able to weather this new challenge, knowing he’s in a loving family, is key.

    I’m glad to see that he is feeling better. And that you and Ken are having some time together.

    Love, M


  3. Dearest Kat, Ken & Sawyer, We can not begin to imagine this experience for each of you. It was deeply moving to read your account of such a powerful, yet powerless time. We, your collective community, can & will hold “virtual vigil” for all of you as you traverse his journey toward wellness.
    Much Love, G & D


  4. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I am glad you are his mother and there (as much as you can be right now) for him. You are in my thoughts. I pray for his recovery and for your family to heal.


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