It's so easy to take things for granted when the movements, shuffling about, and routines of the day keep the mind occupied and busy. Like today, for example.
I was busy cooking dinner (chili!), Hank was feeding Kate, and Alison and Henry were out in the back playing. Suddenly I heard wailing from the backyard, followed by shouting. "Come help! Help!" Usually Hank and I run a little triage by first assessing how serious and high pitched the screams are before dashing to their rescue. (Once when Alison was wee, she screamed a blood curdling scream from outside -- I dashed outside only to find that she was actually squealing from delight). So screams come in a variety of pitches and levels of shrillness, and they don't always signal an emergency. Usually one of the kids has something mild, like a scraped knee or poked eye or a bonked head. But today was different.
Today my heart dropped to my knees when I saw Hank pause before rushing outside. You see, today's screams were of the ohmygodsomethinghashappened variety. Immediately I joined Hank outside, my voice suddenly no longer my own. "What happened? Oh my God, what happened?"
Little Henry was on the grass yelling in pain. Alison quickly gave me the update, "Henry was trying to get down (from the slide). . . I tried to help him. . . I tried, Mama, but he started falling.....and then he just slipped out of my hands. He's hurt, Mama."
Immediately I checked for bumps on his head. (Those always scare me most) All clear.
I looked for blood. All clear.
"His arm. He's not moving his arm." Hank notices.
At this point, Kate was screaming a my-dinner-was-interrupted scream so Hank took her inside. And Henry continued to cry. So I held him. I just held him and rocked him in my arms like a baby. I kissed his forehead while he cried. And cried. And cried.
When Alison wrapped her arms around the two of us, he cried harder and sobbed deeper. My little boy was in pain. My rough and tumble boy was now suddenly fragile and little and scared and sad.
Once inside the house, Henry pleaded to go to his room to take a nap. "Tired, Mama....I'm tired....." he kept saying through his tears and sobbing. In an effort to see if he could move his arm, Hank said, "Henry give me five up high....." That only made Henry cry harder.
"Do you want a piece of licorice?" I tried.
"I think he needs to go to the emergency room," Hank stated.
Even more tears.
After much persuasion, Hank managed to get Henry into the car. Alison and I watched Henry cry as they backed out of the driveway. It was so hard to watch them drive away.
******FLASH FOWARD THREE HOURS*********
Hank just called from the emergency room. I can hardly hear him as there's so much damn static in our connection. It doesn't really matter, though, because my brain is only taking in parts of the conversation. All I hear is broken arm........lots of swelling......stay overnight........ different hospital..... ambulance......... possibility of surgery...... circulation problems....... monitoring..... good pediatric orthopedist....... very brave..... didn't cry.
And then he hands the phone over to Henry, and suddenly the line is crystal clear. I hear Henry's little voice pushing through the line, "I love you forever, Mama." I hear a little break in his voice, but he recovers. He's trying hard to be brave for Mama.
The house is still and quiet now. The girls are asleep, and the rest of the evening is mine. Usually I spend this free time tidying up the house and closing up shop. But tonight I leave Henry's room as is. His bed that he "unmade" shortly after I made it. His toys strewn about. The book on the bathroom floor. The socks in the hallway. His trucks on the sofa.
I will leave this mess, these traces of my little boy. I will leave them just so. They'll be ready for him when he returns home. God I can't wait.