It had to happen sometime, the crumbling. We wear brave faces when we must, we smile at our kids because sometimes seeing our fear would undo them. We have to be the pillar sometimes, not a puddled mess on the floor. I wait to cry until after the anesthesia takes over and he is asleep and he won’t feel the drip of my eyes on his warm head. I write a couple dozen thank you cards with a real pen and paper and we take turns distracting each other while we wait.
This is so much more than I bargained for. When he sliced his hand last week we almost didn’t go in, the bleeding stopped after a while. The tender-hearted, mercy giving one quietly asked her daddy for help reaching a rag box so she could mop up the blood on the floor. But when I realized he lacked movement in one finger and on his writing, favored hand at that, we knew we had no choice of staying home. Indeed the tendon was severed and surgery was required. I pictured a quick “stitch and back together” sort of thing. Not so. Hands are so intricate and delicate and tendons do amazing things, stretch great lengths and thus retract great lengths as well.
It was no “we’ll just numb it and whip it back together” kind of fix. It was general anesthesia and two hours of surgery. It was an incision from finger tip to palm and incredible expertise to thread and reattach the tendon that gives movement, life to the finger. It is a full cast from shoulder to fingertip and no use of the entire right arm. For 6 weeks, straight into the first month of school. And even after that there is the re-learning of things which will take time after so long of not being used.
Four days post-surgery (yes, that’s just yesterday…) the wheels starting turning. The thinking got bigger, broader and the questions harder. The tail-end-of-pregnancy hormones took over. Before I knew it, I felt the grip of fear like I’ve rarely known. The what-if’s that I normally keep at bay filled my mind. I was months down the road in my mind and every possible worry was laid out clear and disastrous and seemingly certain.
The brave mama face had worn off. The reality of how the hard things, the unexpected things, the terrifying things that will all intersect in some way with the lives of the children I love so unabashedly was crystal clear. And it made me shudder. It made my heart weak and my face pale. Of course I know this but it’s a whole other thing to watch it. The magnitude of my smallness and my complete lack of control of the outcomes, the choices – it overwhelmed me entirely.
I wrote to a friend just a few short words “100% bonafide wreck”. That summed it all up pretty well. Then I proceeded to take some very deep breaths. And I read the Psalms because if that doesn’t calm a heart right down I don’t know what will. And then I made a new list. Not the list of 101 reasons why I should freak out and worry about everything (already made that one…). This one, just for today:
- just think about today
- do not think about school or baby or what if the surgery didn’t work or how will I have a newborn, a son who needs lots of extra help and three other children to teach – don’t do it.
- make chocolate zucchini muffins and put in extra honey
- relish the help from the Tuckers who offered to get the goats all trimmed and lovely for the fair (which is in two days, but don’t think about that because it’s not today)
- eat Beet Borsch soup that Selma brought, eat all you want and don’t share it with the kids, its too good
- find a steam carpet cleaner to borrow (always needed after potty training weeks)
- finish goats posters with Nana
- find more clothes Caleb can wear over his cast
- smile at least once
- hug each of my children
Besides the carpet cleaner, I did exactly those things. Not much more except I managed to laugh at Finn and his take-all-his-clothes-off in the backyard thing he has going on because after he was sans-clothing, he tried to swing and it didn’t work out too well. I sat in my bed and read to my boys (reading is Caleb’s favorite thing ever and it’s harder than you’d think to hold a book and turn pages with one hand). I gave everyone way too much maple syrup on their peaches and yogurt dessert.
Tomorrow will get its own list. And it will be reasonable and kind. There will be more deep breaths and more grace to give and more hugs and probably more maple syrup. But first there will be a soft brown book open in my favorite chair because I have to ground my heart in the One who never changes, never fails. It doesn’t have to make sense to me, he sees and he knows.
I will trust in You, You’ve never failed before….I’m giving you fear and you give me faith. I’m giving you doubt you give me grace. -‘Help me Find It’ by Sidewalk Prophets