Article Overview:    When you sleep with a child of innocence, especially one who is sick and wants the comfort of another human being to reinforce his or her battle with the sickness, you enter into a special zone--the zone of Sentinel of Children's Safety.    I entered that zone the other day, and it was a great feeling.


Saturday, March 6, 2004—Ground Zero Plus 906
Sleeping With The Child Of Innocence

Cliff McKenzie

         GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Mar. 6, 2004 -- Yesterday I slept with the Child of Innocence.  

I was protecting my grandson from the Beast of Viral Terror

          I was protecting him from the Beast of Viral Terror.
         He was under attack.
         Angus is his name.
         Angus is my 20-month old grandson.   He calls me Ba-Ba, for no particular reason other than perhaps the making of those sounds are easier than others.
         In New York City a virus has swept through the city of eight million, attacking young children particularly.   It causes fever, vomiting and diarrhea--and, a lot of crying and pain.
          Over the past week my daughter, son-in-law and wife have been the main line of care for Angus, assisted by Angus' seven-year-old brother, Matt, and five-year-old sister, Sarah who do their best to try and get Angus to smile and break the two-hour crying stints that accompany the pain and suffering (especially when mommy is not home).
          Of course, doctors are monitoring Angus by phone, with certain deadlines for his body to respond to medicine, and if they aren't met, for him to be taken to the hospital.   During the main crisis, he was within ten minutes of responding before being rushed to the emergency room, but at the last minute, he reacted positively.
          Vigilance was poised.
          Yesterday, I volunteered to spend the afternoon with Angus to give everyone else a break.   He was starting on the downside of the sickness, still battered by it, but not in fierce combat with Beast of Viral Terror. 

Angus looked and acted far from his usual radiating self

          He looked like the combat vet who straggles back to the main headquarters after being on the front line far too long--hollow eyes, droopy eyelids, face gaunt, shoulders slumped, skin pallored, thinner and an aura of lethargy pulsing slowly from his usually radiating being.
          Angus likes to sit next to me on the couch and play with his toy cars.    He brought them over in a box and we played with them for a while.    He ran the trucks up my arm and I ran mine down my arms.  We collided and then started our different journeys again and again.
        Unlike usual play, Angus was slow, methodical, not animated in his movements as he might have been in normal times.   He made no sounds.   He would look up at me, his big brown eyes staring at the monolith of flesh sitting next to him.  I am a mountain to him, I'm sure, at six-four and 275 pounds versus his 33 pounds - less those he lost; I must resemble some block of granite.
         Angus hadn't had his nap.
         I told him we were going to read a book and to get one.   I went into his bedroom and laid down on the bottom bunk.   Angus came in with his book and crawled over the top of me and laid his head in the crook of my arm.
         I began to read the book to him.  He likes to turn the pages and his small hand reached up to move a page now and then.   I kept on reading until his little hand stopped turning the pages.
         Glancing down, I saw his head nestled in the crook of my large arm, eyes shut.   I thought about getting up and letting him sleep more comfortably, and then realized I too was tired and that my movements might awaken him.   He hadn't had much sleep over the past week.

I was a Sentinel on a Listening Post

       I began to doze, alert to any movement he might make, and especially to my own.   I thought of rolling over and smothering him, so I kept my alert lights on bright.    I must have woken up ten or more times from a light sleep, as though I were a Sentinel on a Listening Post deep in enemy territory, my ear cocked to any sound that might signal the presence of the enemy.
         In the crook of my arm was the most precious of all treasures, the trust of a little child.   I had forgotten how powerful a feeling it was to have a child sleeping next to you, his whole being counting on you to protect him from harm.
         I looked at Angus' face.  His eyes were shut, his cheeks rosy.  His chest rose and fell rhythmically, inhaling and exhaling the essence of life.  Inside his body I knew he was fighting the rest of the battle.  His immune system was cleaning up the battlefield, patching up the wounded, regenerating damaged cells.    Angus had lost weight in his bout with the Terror Virus.  It would take a while to get him back to par.
        I felt like a true Sentinel of Vigilance in that bed with my second generation flesh and blood.    Sometimes I get detached from the idea of Vigilance, that it seems out of reach, well beyond imagination.  But then yesterday, I was brought to the reality of its meaning.

Angus slept and was reassured I was there

         Angus trusted me.    As he slept, he would pat his small hand on my chest, a reassurance that someone was next to him, there to comfort and protect him.

The job of all adults is to protect the children

        As I finally tried to dislodge myself from him so I could get up and answer the phone that was ringing, he rolled to his side and placed his sleeping head on my chest.  I lay there for a long moment, savoring the sense that he was embracing my protection, reminding me that my job and the job of all adults is to protect the children from the ravages of the Beast of Terror who seeks to undermine the children's health--whether it be physical or emotional.   
          I waited until Angus rolled onto his back and then slipped out of the bed.   As I did, Angus' eyes flicked open.    He looked at me as I stood up, a long look of contentment and affection.

I felt good that I was Angus' Sentinel of Vigilance

           I went out into the living room to answer the phone, but it was now quiet.    I thought perhaps Angus would fall back to sleep, but he didn't.   He walked sleepily out of the bedroom and went to couch and patted it for me to sit down.   I came over and sat down, then he climbed up and snuggled next to me, looking up at me with those big brown eyes.
           I was his Sentinel of Vigilance, asleep or awake, for that moment.  
           It felt good.

Mar 5--Umpiring The Beast Of Terror Within

Some Highlighted Stories From Last Year

Dec 31 Bush's New Year's Message:  Era Of Vigilance
Dec. 30
Walking The Path Of Terror: The 839th Day

Dec 29 Terrorism's New Year's Ball
Dec 27-28
Indiscriminate Terrorism:  Mother Nature's WMD
Dec. 26
The Beast Attacks Like The Mad Cow Disease
Dec 25
Learn The Secrets Of Vigilance On Christmas Day
Dec 24
Eve Of The Youngest Sentinels Of Vigilance Part V of V
Dec 23
Parable Of The Ant & The Leaf: The Third Secret Of Vigilance
Part IV of V from the Legends Of Christmas Vigilance
Dec 22
 Part III of V:  How Rock Candy Banished Darkness From The Land Of Vigilance
Dec 21
Part II of V:  The First Secret Of Vigilance
Dec. 20
Part I of V--The Legend Of Christmas Vigilance.
Dec. 19
What Do Michael Jackson & Saddam Hussein Have In Common?
Dec. 18
Torturing Saddam In The Zoo Of Vigilance
Dec 17
Interview With Saddam In His Iraqi Rat Hole
Dec 16
New Drug Fights Teenage Beast Of Terror
Dec 15 Capturing Weapons Of Mass Destruction:  Saddam Hussein

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