This has been such a strange summer for us. It started with Kendell and I getting in a fender bender—on his birthday! Someone rear-ended us. I was OK, but he had a pretty good case of whiplash, so he did a few PT appointments. (The only damage to the car was on the bumper, which was repaired.) Then there was my spectacular fall at Ragner (which I still need to blog about!), which resulted in the fact that I've only gone running once this summer. We took our swing set down. We've been getting Haley ready to leave for college. Jake's been busy with his job. Nathan cut his finger open. Well, I suppose that isn't really so strange in our family; maybe the strangeness is that no one else has been taken, spurting blood, to the doctor's office.
Haley's gotten in the habit of riding her bike to her nanny job in the mornings. I've gotten out of the habit of nagging her about wearing her helmet. It's not too far—about three miles—and I thought she was taking the road without much traffic.
Yesterday, when she got home, I was lying in bed, as I've got a cold and I wanted to lazy it away. She walked back into my bedroom and said "I just got hit by a car" and I was like, "what? that's not funny to joke about" as I totally thought she was kidding.
Then I saw her bloody knee and I realized: nope, not kidding. My daughter got hit by a car. Riding her bike. without her helmet.
We've had more than our share of injuries in my family, so I'm pretty good at not freaking out. I took her into the bathroom and cleaned her wounds: a big scrape on her wrist, a few little ones on her elbow, and a long gash on her knee. I didn't think it was deep enough to stitch, but I wasn't sure. Then I examined her head and found she had an enormous goose egg. I got her bandaged up, gave her some Advil, and then I started thinking: OK, what do I do now? Do I take her to the doctor? Do I call the police? (The person who hit her, who ran a red light, did stop to help her; he also gave her his contact information, but they didn't call the police.)
I called Kendell and he wasn't at his desk. I called my sister and she didn't answer her phone. I called the doctor but the nurse's line went to the answering machine. So I left a message, and then my sister called back, and then I freaked out.
I mean...not a big freak out. Just a meltdown. Just saying the words "Haley got hit by a car" was hard to do, given the lump in my throat. Washing away the blood, bandaging the wounds, checking her pupils? Those things didn't make it real. saying it did. So I cried a little, and tried to breath, and then followed my instinct, which was the same thing Suzette said: yeah, take her in to the doctor.
So we did, and she's OK. She has an enormous bruise on her thigh. But no concussion, seemingly. The cut on her knee wasn't deep enough for stitches, so the doctor steri-stripped it instead. I think she might be a little bit scared of riding her bike anymore—we'll need to do a get-back-on-your-horse bike ride soon.
But what I'm left with is a huge spurt of anxiety. The little accident she had could've easily been a bigger one, if she'd hit the car differently or he'd accelerated faster or she'd landed in a different way. And it all balloons from there. If she'd chosen to ride on the less-busy road, she wouldn't have been in that accident, but maybe the day before she would've been in a different one. The anxiety melted me down to a razor-sharp knowledge: just getting out of bed every day is a miracle. How do you choose what you need to so that every day doesn't end in the potential disaster it could?
I guess you just take a deep breath and do it anyway. I guess you just don't think about all the awful turns your life could take. You rely on it going forward steadily, and hope that the detours aren't seriously life-changing. You pray a lot. You encourage the wearing of helmets—in whatever form the helmet takes.
But you just never know: when everyone you love could be taken away, and so really what you do, once you get out of bed, is love them as hard and as well as you can. What else is there?