Need to Fly

By Rebecca Hill

I am watching my son play in the yard. Our playground is pretty safe, with wood chips and padding. My son wears a helmet, but I still feel my heart speed up as he climbs the seven-foot tower to get to the slide. "Sage, careful!" I call, in spite of myself.  I sit back down next to John, my co-worker and friend. "I just can't do another hospital trip," I sigh.

"Did I ever tell you," he says, "that I used to play with this kid who had hemophilia?"

"Really," I say.

"Yeah, he was really sick. I mean he was in a wheelchair".

"When was this, like the sixties?"

"Yeah-late sixties. I guess the treatments weren't that great back then." "No," I said. "They weren't."

"Well, anyway, this kid, he was in wheelchair, and he used to just sit on the playground during recess, and just watch everybody else play."

"That's sad."

"Yeah. Eventually, though, we became friends."


"Yeah, and I used to push him in the wheelchair. We'd go really fast, and he'd yell, faster, faster! And I would, we'd build up so much speed as we crossed the yard."

John was quiet for a moment, smiling at the memory.

He turned back to me. "One day, though, we hit a rock."

"Oh my god," I said. "Did he get hurt?"

"Well, he went totally airborne. He was banged up a little, but he was okay. All the teachers came running, I mean they really freaked. And he kept saying, I'm okay, I'm okay."

I sat back and watched my son hanging off the monkey bars.

"It's like it was worth it to him, you know? Just that moment of freedom, of going fast. It was worth the risk of getting hurt."

I am taken with the image, a little boy willing to risk pain and medical procedures for just a moment of freedom, and his friend who understands his need to fly.

"Mama!" Sage calls, from the top of the slide. I wave and smile. And I silently resolve to never, never forget his need to fly.

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Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman COllege, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: November 14, 2004