First, Sammy caught it. He was 101’ in the morning, strep test negative. By night, the thermometer read 103.5’, and he was hallucinating and dry. I always get scared when the kids are sick – but I try to hide my fear and control my shaking hands, dispensing and pouring liquid Motrin in those tiny plastic cups, tucking in the right blanket, drawing water and Gatorade like Rebecca at the well.

Then Ben got pneumonia, and started Amoxicillin right away. Two thousand milligrams, ten days, we were balancing on grains and grains of white sand promises. We found his old asthma inhalers and remembered to inhale, count to sixty, let it out, inhale again, hold it. The cough was wet and rattling and made me hold my own breath.

Sammy’s antibiotics kicked in after 24 hours. The sweating and showers stopped. Ben improved, too, and went back to school.

I’d been sleeping close, in the guest bed near their rooms. I dreamed I was a dentist, pulling teeth – it was bloody, but I somehow knew I could dip in deep and get them out.

Randi Brodsky is a writer living in Phoenix, Arizona.