I just knew something was wrong--in that awful way you just know. She was running, having been sent to her room, and she slipped and fell. Whacked her face. She got up, crying, and continued to her time out. And I just knew.
So I followed her to her room.
"Did you just hit your face, baby?" I asked.
She held her face in both hands and I sat on the edge of the bed and looked down.
Big, fat, crimson, drops on her purple sheet.
"Are you bleeding?" I asked, prying her hands away.
Flowing. Pouring. In a way that was so, so, wrong, I instantly knew beyond any doubt, we were headed to the emergency room. And stitches.
The beautiful ingredients for my dinner were all prepared and laid out, ready. I'd baked a cake for my sister's birthday. And just like that--our plans changed. In an instant, everything was different. Upside down.
My emotions went wherever they go when there's a crisis. Away. I become super calm and organized. Getting the directions to the best ER and heading out with a panicky pre-schooler, leaving behind my husband, son and our soon-to-be-arriving dinner guests. Luck was with us and the hospital was great and we were in and out in under an hour. I know. I KNOW.
They swaddled my baby and stuck her with a needle and sewed her lip back together, while she cried and yelled, "I want to leave RIGHT NOW!" and, "EVERYONE TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF ME!" and my belly got woozy and my heart broke into a bazillion pieces, even when my head was all, "It's only four stitches. Get over yourself. SHE'S FINE."
And she was. Is.
There's something about it, though. About the knowledge that one minute you can be fixing an awesome dinner and the next minute, things can, well, change. Something about those tense moments, that time when realization blooms and you know--know--things aren't going the way you thought they were going to go. For whatever reason, for me, it dipped right into the place where the memories surrounding my mother's dying live. The place where tragedies alter not only your plans, but your life. That place is hard to find when you're looking for it but you recognize it in a flash, when you're passing through it.
I know a woman whose son was attacked by a dog. He required stitches all over his torso, arms and legs. His mother grieved for his skin, for the scars that would mark him now, forever. Even though I was childless at the time, I understood her sadness, her sense of loss. On the way to the hospital with my girl, I remembered her. I remembered her grief as I thought about my daughter's face. Flawless up until now. This will be her first real scar.
When I got home, I ate the take-out The Man ordered after he'd butchered the dinner I'd intended. We sang happy birthday and cut the cake. I ate a piece as big as my head. And when everyone went home and the kids were snuggle-buggle in bed, my feelings came back from wherever it is they go in a crisis.
And I bawled my eyes out, even though she's fine.
She'll have a scar.
And so will I.