Dear Stranger... A Letter To The Man Who Saved My Son's Life

A mother's tale of gratitude.

Dear Stranger,

You don’t know anything about my life, my work, my world. But you know my son. My darling baby boy. You know him.

He’s not really a baby. He’s 12 now. But he’s my baby. He’ll always be my baby. Nobody else’s. I tell him this every night when I tuck him into bed. I whisper as I press my face to the top of his sweet, soft head. "Not Grandpa’s baby, Mummy’s baby." Some nights I keep it as simple as that. Other nights I go all out -- naming everyone we know. I list neighbours, friends, even the dogs. He’s almost a teenager, teetering on the very cusp of becoming a young man, but I still go through the ritual and, while he behaves as though he loathes it, I know better.

Like I say, he’s my baby. And I know him. I really do. And, now, so do you.

You see, my baby, my boy, is the child who collapsed at your feet last Saturday. My boy is the boy who staggered a few metres, looked you dead in the eye and then crumpled to the floor.

I wasn’t there. Obviously. But I keep running the scene my head over and over. I see him, this child, this boy of mine, this walking, talking human being I would give my life for. I see him, his knees buckling, his eyes rolling back in his head. I see his older brother, my other baby, panicked and running for help. A crowd gathering. The person I can’t imagine, can’t see, is you. But I’ve been told this is what happened.

My darling boy was there, arms and legs bent at strange angles. And then -- suddenly so were you. A man who just happened to be just where he was needed at the very moment he was needed. You. A stranger to me. A stranger to this child. But I’m told you tended to him like he was your own.

When this child you didn’t know stirred you reassured him. You checked his temperature, looked into his eyes, asked him relevant questions. You touched him in a caring, kind way and let him know he was in safe hands. And he was, apparently.

Apparently you're a doctor. A doctor who just happened to be in the very location my boy, my baby, suffered an episode of some kind. You were there with your own two children. I’m told they were wearing fancy dress of some kind … girls, I think. Maybe? But fancy dress. Yes.

Clearly you were out for a special occasion of some kind. Maybe an event you and your girls had been looking forward to for a time. But you didn’t hesitate. You didn’t turn away. You dropped everything, forgot your own plans, put your own children aside and cared for mine instead.

You were still by his side when the ambulance officers arrived a good amount of time later. You talked them through everything. You explained what you had seen, what you thought. You were there when my baby, my child, was placed on a wheeled stretcher and taken to an ambulance. You continued to reassure him, his brother and by this time his father, too. Not me. I wasn’t there. We’re strangers you and me. Complete strangers.

The text arrived when my boy was in the ambulance and rattling through the city streets to the nearest hospital. I don’t remember exactly what went through my head. I know I opened my mouth and howled. And then I ran into the street and started making my way to the hospital.

When I saw my boy he was still strapped to the gurney. I fell into his arms. Cradled him. My baby. He was being treated by doctors but they moved aside for me, gave me space. He was doing okay apparently. They would run tests. There would be further investigations, but right now he was doing just fine. They quietly and calmly reassured me while I wept, clutching my boy to my chest.

Not anyone else’s baby. My baby. And now, though, a little bit yours, too. Your baby. Because this boy, my boy, is not a stranger to you. You know him. You know one another. And while you’re a stranger to me I think of you. Dreamed of you last night even. A stranger. A man I do not know who showed my boy and my family the most perfect of kindnesses.

And while you might be a stranger I want you to know how deeply grateful I am. And always will be.