The first time your child is in the hospital, you learn
Where the bathrooms are, where the cafeteria is, which outlets you can use, how to order what the dietitian allows, which is the closest elevator, how to get the IV stand into the bathroom, and that free parking is pointless since the parking lot is built for compacts and filled with SUVs.
Doctors really are as hot as they look on television, but the nurses aren't. You can see the physical therapist's thong when she bends over.
Your house didn't burn down while you were away.
There are lots of camps, clubs, and activities to keep your other kid busy.
You have friends you never knew you had.
The second time your child is in the hospital, you learn
There are no good places to scream and cry, but you can hit the walls of the elevator pretty hard without making a dent.
It's easy to make doctors laugh. The paramedics who ride helicopters look like action stars. That the best person to put in a difficult IV is a little old Mexican woman named Rosalina (but everyone just calls her "mother").
Dishes can fill the sink, dirty clothes can pile up, and flowers can wilt. None of it's important.
Your other kid will hit you, swear, and call you the worst names he can think of. He's just as scared as you are.
Your friends are willing, even enthusiastic to help you.
The third time your child is in the hospital, you learn
If you hit the walls of the elevator hard enough, you can hear the bones in your hand creak, which is very satisfying, but typing will hurt for a few hours.
Doctors aren't bothered by people who stare at them angrily. That sometimes you have to remind them of things they forgot. That sometimes you have to make sure they don't give the wrong medications.
You never liked the cats. All they do is shit on the floor, beg for food, and sleep. Wouldn't it be great to be a cat, and never have to think again?
Your other kid will die someday, too.
That you can't close some wounds, you can't gather some shards, and some voids will never fill up again.
That telling someone you're sending prayers or good thoughts is an insipid, meaningless thing to do.
That any god who could help should have done it by now.
That if nothing in the whole world can help your child then what good is the whole world?