I'm not equipped for this.
My daughter and I were at the playground last Monday. We'd been on the swings together, then running around chasing dreams, or fairies, or whatever it was she said we were pursuing.
We climbed a hill that had a giant concrete sundial at the top and were feeling the warm sunshine on our faces. She put her arm around me; I put mine around her, in return.
I felt her drift backwards, which I presumed was simply her pulling away from me, as kids do.
Then, I heard something smack down on the concrete -- and turned around to see my child on the ground.
Unconscious. Eyes closed; mouth open. A cut on the back of her ear from where her head had made contact.
One minute she was there, smiling up at me...the next, she...wasn't.
I have zero medical training aside from a CPR class I took a few years ago. I remembered exactly NONE of it in this moment. Instead, I did what a body does when it's panicked -- I started screaming.
I don't know where my voice came from. I'm normally very soft-spoken. I usually freeze when met with a shock.
This time, I did not freeze; my body mobilized and vocalized every smothered shriek I've ever held back.
I tried to roll my child towards me so I could see her face better, then remembered we're not supposed to move unconscious people. Or are we? I didn't know.
Now, I froze. I started staring at something off in the distance. Everything got hazy and my brain "checked out." I felt dizzy. Where was I? What was happening?
By the grace of God, a few other parents were nearby, including one who was a nurse and another, a doctor.
Time passed. I have no idea how much.
What felt like hours (but was surely just minutes) later, the nurse announced that my child was "coming back" and starting to talk. I was still somewhere outside my body; and, it hurts me to say, not at all present with my ailing child, aside from standing next to her on the sundial.
The shock was too much for me. I became aware that my entire body was shaking as if there were an earthquake below my feet.
I shut down, incapable of helping my own child.
Am I a failure? I must be, if I wasn't the first reassuring face my child saw as she woke up.
Instead, my child awakened looking into a stranger’s eyes, not mine. She awakened in a stranger's arms, not mine. My eyes had been the first she ever looked into, moments after she was born. My arms had been the first arms to ever hold her.
I was not there this time for this crucial reawakening. I was nearby, but not there. My mind's eye was frozen with the image of her lying unconscious on the concrete, even though she was now ready to try standing up.
Still in a daze, I managed -- with help -- to get us down the hill and into my car. I immediately took my child to her pediatrician, who confirmed that nothing appeared to be wrong with her. It was a "fluke," she said.
Oh, okay. Nothing's wrong. Where do I find peace with this?
The rest of the day, I kept my child on my lap, reading to her, stroking her hair and nuzzling my face into it like I did when she was a baby.
I lost another baby once. I do not want to lose THIS "baby," who's an otherwise healthy 8-year-old. Our babies are always our babies. I am not prepared to lose...another. Not THIS child.
I poured love into her sweet soul in every way I knew how that day. As soon as I could, I showed up. I put down my phone, my agenda, and everything I was "supposed to" accomplish.
I was just WITH her. Terrified and comforted at the same time, feeling my baby slip through my fingers -- and then holding her back there again.
It all knocked the wind out of me.
The next morning, after a night of extremely broken sleep (for me), my daughter -- still pale -- looked up at me and said out of the blue, "Mama, I'm not afraid of dying."
"What?" I inquired, feeling tears rush to my eyes. No one had spoken to her about dying.
"Heaven is going to be perfect. Can you imagine?" She paused, then continued, "You know what, though? Even if Heaven is just like here -- exactly like here -- that's fine with me, too, because here is pretty amazing."
And she leaned into me, hugged me tightly, and did not let go.
I am not equipped for this.
AND, if she views my showing up; the safety I offer her when I'm capable; my holding her and loving her as being a version of Heaven that she'd accept for eternity -- then there's no failure here.
I will hold her every day of my life. May I keep showing up, and I will never let her slip through my fingers again.