You can lose it all, in the blink of an eye. You’re zooming along, ticking things off your lists, feeling pretty good about getting things done and then, slam! The sound of your child falling, or the sound of the phone ringing, or the screech of tires. You hear a clear sound that signals the end of your life as you knew it, and the beginning of a terrifying new reality.
As a loss Mom, I know what this is like. I have heard the doctor tell me my child no longer had a heartbeat. I birthed my stillborn daughter. I held her close and memorized her. I long for her. It’s been 19 months since we lost her. We have a rainbow baby, he’s now 8 months old. 8 months! We also have an almost 4-year old. Time flies. Lists get made and things get crossed off. Life chugs along. The grief is woven into the fabric of daily life.
I woke this morning at 4:30am, got dressed, nursed the baby in his sleep, and snuck out of the house to drive to Boston to catch a plane to Newark, heading for Nashville for a work meeting. I’ve been a regular traveler in my career, but have slowed it way down since having kids. This was my first trip since our 8-month old was born. It was to be my first night away from him.
After pumping some milk at the sink in the women’s bathroom in Newark (glamour!), I took a work call and then called my husband to check in and see how things were going. He sounded breathless, agitated, scared, “you’re going to hate me, ” he said. He said it again and again. Then he launched into a story about how our baby fell off the table, in his car seat, unbuckled, and fell onto the floor. Our baby fell off the table onto the floor. He hit his head. He was bleeding and at the emergency room. “Tell me he is ok,” I said. “TELL ME HE IS OK”. “They think he’s ok,” my husband said. My baby fell off the table and hit his head and he is bleeding but they think he’s OK.
And so I went to the ticket counter and booked a ticket home. No meeting in Nashville for me. When your child is hurt, the only place you really want to be is by his side. All I could think is that he needs his mama. In my gut, I felt that he was going to be OK, but I couldn’t wait to find out, and I couldn’t fly further away. I needed to get home asap.
Probably any parent would respond this way. Probably you don’t have to be a loss parent to be the kind of parent who takes no chances with your child’s health. I really try to not be an alarmist. But here is a moment when it is all crystal clear. Your priorities are visible, and you see the true fragility of life before you. You know what can happen, and so you go home. You skip the meeting, you spend the afternoon consoling your husband, “it was an accident…”, rocking your baby, kissing your almost 4-year old, and feeling extraordinarily grateful. You know what can happen, but this time, it was OK. Thank you, world, thank you, spirits, thank you, luck, thank you, thank you, thank you.