Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tragedy and the Coffee Table

This was something my husband wrote back when our oldest was 4. He's now almost 8, but the reality of his thoughts, emotions and desperation is always the same when it comes to our children. I hope you enjoy!

Today the dreaded, if not half expected, phone call occurred. A text message appeared on my phone while I am going about my day at work, and it read, " CALL ME ASAP-KIM." I took the time out to return her call only to be greeted by a very upset, pensive and tearful mother trying to nervously explain that she has taken our number one son to the emergency room because he has broken his face into four separate pieces.

She continued to explain that as he was playing in the living room this morning, he slipped and banged his face so hard that he may, I say MAY, have broken his nose. After the call, I try to calm myself and stave off the panic inside with my own admonition, "These things happen-I am sure he is fine." With this mantra echoing over and over in my head I bolted out of my office building toward the car with purpose in my step. My demeanor had all the cliche of a 1940's superhero like Superman or Dick Tracy. I was Batman in a tie and Brooks Brother's slacks. As I hit the broad glass doors on ML building 4, it would have been totally appropriate for someone to yell out behind me, " To the daddy-mobile Kaki-Man!"

As I got to the hospital I was greeted by worried grandparents, and a very "fragile" spouse. I was in business mode- gathering facts, bringing calm and structure to the situation, showing love and concern for my little one- allaying his fears. I shifted masterfully between consoling husband, engaged and concerned father, and gentle and loving dad. Please don't misunderstand me, these weren't superficial actions, I knew my role and genuinely wanted to be the answer to each and every need in the building. The nurses were lucky to not receive a caring hug! I was all that I needed to be for everyone involved, which for me is very a-typical thing.

It was a pretty bad cut in my little one's nose. Honestly, when we wiped away the residual bleeding, I thing you might have been able to see things you weren't supposed to see. He was so strong, scared of course, full of bravery that is only exhibited by the truly innocent unable to fully grasp the situation. I mean really, he's four.

After x-rays(not broken), and triage it was time for stitches. The Dr. needed one parent to be in the room in order to calm him through the process. I am FATHER, so of course, I draw the short straw. They strapped him into a contraption that can only be described as a baby straight jacket. This of course completely unhinges my little boy. They shined this painfully bright light upon the wound which just so happens directly in my child's face. Then they laid gauze pads on his eyes to isolate the wound. Then the sewing began.

I have a strong little man for a son. He wriggled and struggled so much that I had to lay over him with full force just to keep him still. During this my baby's cries of, "It hurts Daddy!" and "I can't see you, I want to go home!" cut deeply into my heart. There is no sense of helpless I can think of that could match that moment. In all my strength, and emotional savvy- I could not do one thing to alleviate his fear or pain. He is one of two people I love most in this world, and in that moment I was completely impotent and unable, to make anything better. He depends on me, his screams of "I can't see you, I wanna go home!" rebound off the four empty walls of that room- and I am USELESS.

After the doctor is finished, I tear this monstrosity off him and hold him close, almost as an apology for my lack of strength. He, well he, acts as if nothing ever happened. I could only hope to have the resilience that that little boy showed. In thirty seconds from having his face sewed up, he is playing with a balloon I made for him out of a surgical glove, and wondering where mommy may be.

Here is the crux of what I am trying to say: No matter how talented, smooth, intelligent, determined, strong or cool-headed you may be, you do not have even the smallest control over this world. In my efforts to identify and fill the needs of those I care about, I lack the ability to do ANYTHING that changes anyone's reality. I would rather have took his place and had someones stitch my face with a ten-penny nail, than have that little boy feel the way he did today. I could not remove one ounce of the fear, pain, and isolation my son felt today in that moment. Today, in the grand scheme of things, matters little. He may have a tiny scar that, one day in the future some 16 year-old-girl will look at him and say to herself, "That little scar give his face character and makes him even more adorable."

But today, in a small way, I found out: I'm not Superman.