Thursday, March 24, 2011

In the Blink of an Eye

This past Wednesday we had a scare.

Let me preface this post by stating that everyone in our household is okay.

That afternoon the sun peeked through the clouds, and I decided to take all three kids up to the park for a while before dinner. We pulled up to the park, I unbuckled the boys, and they RAN for the playground as fast as their little feet could talk them, full of laughter and giggles. I came trailing behind carrying Adelyn in the Ergo.

Not long after we arrived an older boy, perhaps around the age of 8, arrived. He was showing off, climbing on top of the equipment, going down the slide backwards, cutting my boys off to scramble up the stairs first...his mother sat on a nearby bench talking on her cell phone. I had to gently remind the boy that we needed to take turns and that my boys were much smaller than him so he had to play gently. Ahem.

Ethan and Grayson were very distracted (enamoured) by this older boy doing all these "cool" tricks. Within just a few minutes I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was on high alert, watching carefully their every move, reminding them to pay attention, to go down the slide feet first, to hold on with both hands...

There is this bridge on this particular piece of equipment. It is about 4 feet off the ground. It shakes when you walk across it, and is surrounded by chains that hang down, about a feet apart each. Even from the first time the boys first played on this a few months ago, I just had this pressing sense that they weren't old enough to play there, that the bridge wasn't safe for them. I pushed those feelings aside though, thinking that I was just being a 'helicopter' parent and I had to let them "be boys" and have fun.

I learned in a split second that I need to listen from now on to that voice. I need not push it away and ignore it, but act on it before it's too late.

Because in a split second Ethan looked at his brother on the other side of the bridge, he giggled and began to run across to him. In a flash I watched before my eyes as my son's feet got tangled up beneath him. I watched as his hands frantically tried to grab hold of the chain. I watched as my son was flung to the earth, landing on the back of his neck and head.

I screamed.

I screamed with a guttural, panic stricken scream.

A scream that scared even me.

I rushed to my child. He was covered in dirt and mulch. He was screaming.

I recall quickly looking him over. Was he able to move his legs and arms? Were there any broken bones? Open gashes?

I scooped him up in my arms. Through all the dirt I couldn't see, I couldn't tell, I couldn't assess.

I told Grayson (who had gathered close upon seeing his brother fall and cry out in pain) that it was time to leave the park. Even though his brother was hurting and his mother was shaking, Grayson had a hard time understanding why we had to leave the park so soon (a.k.a. a temper tantrum ensued). I very firmly grabbed his arm and said "Grayson, we are leaving now." He must have sensed that it wasn't a good time to argue anything different, and he willingly took my hand for the long walk to the van.

When we got inside the van (I crawled in to the back with all three kids) I was able to unload Adelyn and strap her in to her car seat. At that point I grabbed Ethan and examined him from head to toe. By this point his crying had stopped, tears mixed with dirt stained his cheeks, dirt was caked in to his hair, packed in his ears...but my child was okay. Unhurt.

At that moment the fear and the incredible relief hit me and I wept. I wept and held him and wept and wept.

For in that moment I realized that the conclusion could have been so much different.

His entire future, our entire future, could have been changed in that split second like it was for this family, or this family personally known by a friend of mine.

It was a long fall.

He fell right on his neck at least three or four feet to the ground.

All he has to show for it is this small scratch.


Ethan looked at me, with tears flowing down my face, and he said "Mommy sad?" All I could do was hug him and assure him that no, Mommy wasn't sad at all.

I came home and walked in to the house. Chris took one look at my face and asked me what was wrong. I told him what had happened through new tears. He held me and then walked out with me to the garage. He grabbed Ethan in his arms and held him so tight, kissing the top of his head (as you can imagine, bringing a whole new set of tears!). Chris then too had to look him over and make sure I hadn't missed anything. :)

I stuck both boys in the bathtub, examining Ethan once again only to find dirt up his shirt, down his pants, even in his diaper and socks. Yet he was unharmed.

The image that I have in my mind of his fall. The image of him landing on his neck, lying there before me, does not match up with this child I have before me that is unharmed, unscathed, untouched. I have no doubt my child was surrounded by angels at that moment.

As a disclaimer, those of you know me know that I am not an overly dramatic person (or at least I don't think that I am!). I don't cry easily or get too worked up about most things - however, this event has shook me to the core. There was something about it all that leaves me shuddering every time I have that image of his fall in my mind. Something that brings me to tears every time I kiss that little scratch on his face.

I don't understand the whys of it all. Why were we spared from tragedy when other families weren't? How was Ethan able to walk away unscathed? I guess on this Earth I won't know the answers to those questions, I won't understand and comprehend why things happen as they do...

My first instinct is to shut our family away from any danger (as if that's possible). To be anxious about my children's safety, to literally want to duct tape them to the couch until they turn 20 (when my mother states our reasoning is finally developed!). I can easily have panic attacks imagining these worst case scenarios and living in fear of ever having to face a tragedy like that in our family. Daily, daily I am reminded that I need to pray over them and of course watch and protect them to the best of my ability. I need to try and stay one step ahead of them (which is HARD to do when there are two and insane), but ultimately it gives me such an incredible sense of peace to know that they are in His hands and not mine. I can do all that I can do in my power, but then I truly do just have to trust - and oh boy, that's a tough one for me sometimes.

But for today, I am thankful. So amazingly, abundantly, unabashedly thankful.


  1. Oh my, do I feel ya! I recently blogged a similar story of how hard it is to trust sometimes. Boys. It's boys. :) But, I'm glad all is well in your home. Nothing like an event of this nature to increase appreciation for all of the blessings there are in children...

  2. Oh, Beth, my heart is pounding. Thank you for prefacing this post with a "everybody's OK" note!

    This reminds me of the time when Josiah was in danger of drowning. EVERYTHING changed in a split second, and I remember feeling like "How could the whole universe change so fast? Just give me two minutes back, and I'll do things differently so we don't have to go through this!"

    I'm unspeakably relieved that Ethan is OK, and I'm sure angels were there to catch him. Praising God with you tonight!!! And praying for His peace to guard you...

  3. How scary! We have a bridge like that at our park too and it scares me too! The rails are a foot apart. Why don't they make the railing so that kids can't fall through???? I've noticed this problem at lots of parks and I try to avoid those ones. But even with that, how do we protect our kids from everything? So scary.


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