A confluence | PostIndependent.com

A confluence

Alison Osius
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

When I phoned that Friday evening, it was just to check in, but the voice on the other end was frantic. “Felipe’s going to the hospital!” my son Teddy said. “He’s in the ambulance!” His friend had had a severe allergic reaction, my son said. Teddy was on his way to the hospital as well.

“Oh, no!” Felipe, aka Phil, was one of Teddy’s first friends freshman year. He is a football star and an honors student. When Teddy fractured his arm, Felipe was the first to visit after the surgery. When Teddy could subsequently only watch football practices, Phil would wordlessly pick up and carry his camp chair. He has always been sweet to Teddy’s little brother.

“What was he allergic to?” I asked worriedly.

“We don’t know!”

“Hey,” I broke in. “Are you driving? You can’t talk!” (Teens may not use cell phones while driving.)

“Well, stop talking to me!” he wailed, and hung up.

Soon I got a call from my friend Laura, wondering if I knew how Felipe was. Her son Sam and a friend were also enroute to the hospital. “They were a mess,” she said. In the locker room at a scrimmage, Felipe had suddenly felt his throat closing. His face swelled up, his eyes puffed closed, and his breathing degenerated to high, faint gasps. His friends tilted him back on a bench; Tanner supported him from behind, while Teddy leaned against Tanner to keep him upright. A coach, Parker, called the ambulance. Felipe was taken off as a circle of youths watched, tears in their eyes; they thought he might die.

“I’ll meet you there!” Teddy said to the ambulance crew, who stopped him and sternly waved palms down. “You go slow!” they said, aptly, considering the sight before them: a crying 16-year old, with a broken arm, pulling out his car keys.

Another friend, Eduardo, phoned Felipe’s home, but Felipe had taken a family vehicle to the game, so his mother, Maria, was briefly stranded until her husband returned from work. Reuben had seen the ambulance hasten by, with no idea his son was in it.

Meanwhile, Teddy reached the hospital first, and entered Felipe’s examining room.

Within a short time between 20 and 25 high school kids packed the ER lobby. Felipe’s parents arrived, and passed the massed teens.

“They were so quiet,” Maria later told me. The ER doctor said, “Omigod, he knows everyone in this valley from Glenwood to Aspen.” In the room where Teddy and one or two other boys sat, the doctor teased Felipe, “Where are the girls?” Only one was in the lobby. “They’re coming tomorrow,” a boy said.

Felipe smiled, and the doctor said, “Now I know you’re feeling better.”

Maria returned to the lobby to report that Felipe would be fine. The teens were allowed to see him in twos and threes, and got in trouble for making too much noise.

Envisioning the scene, I was reminded of something Mrs. Knaus, Teddy’s superb Spanish teacher, said last year. Roaring Fork High School is over 60 percent Latino, and she is truly seeing the Latino and Anglo kids come together. “The kids in my Spanish classes are so good about helping each other – being patient, not making fun of each other,” she said. “Our student body is so accepting of who other kids are. I think that is unusual.”

Treasured by two communities, Felipe/Phil is a merging point. The next day, when he returned home, every one of the kids came by again, while Teddy and Eduardo stayed all day.

I came over, too. Felipe was lounging in state, with Teddy and Ed playing video games nearby. Their phones all bleeped continually. They’d gotten custom rings. Teddy’s said, “Hey, jackass, you have a text.”

Maria told me that she and her husband are strict parents, careful in where Felipe may go.

Yet perhaps a frightening experience can be reassuring. Afterwards Reuben mused to her, “He has real friends. They take care of each other.”

– Alison Osius (aosius@hotmail.com) lives in Carbondale.

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