Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Emergency Room, High Water, Forest



Palouse Country, Central Idaho

Yesterday my daughter cut her foot on a chain link fence. The cut was bad. She had to be taken to the emergency room. She had many stitches and a small tendon removed because it was too damaged to be repaired. She had much fussing over; but she came home from the emergency room happy.

This morning, she insisted on going to school. As I dropped her off with her crutches and overloaded backpack, I felt a strong twang of mom-guilt. I would be leaving in a couple hours for Idaho and would not see her until Friday. But my husband had assured me I needed to go.

H. patted me on the arm and said, "Don't worry, Mama. No fretting."

"That's what you told me yesterday when you insisted on wearing your flipflops to school, " I protested. "And look what happened to your foot."

"No fretting," she said.

I let go.

After that I took a walk by the river. I was going to Idaho, this time with other people because a space had opened up in someone else's car--a space originally reserved for a man who had just lost his grown daughter.

The river boils and rages through town in May. I watched it from the footbridge, thinking about daughters. Last summer mine jumped into the river from this bridge when the water was low--allowed to do so by the father of the friend she was with; and within sight of the sign warning that serious injury or death could result from jumping.

I lectured her that day, and vowed never to let her go anywhere again with that parent.

This morning I watched the river slam into pilings. I watched it bend and tug at young cottonwoods that today are far into its current, but in normal flow stand on the shore. I wondered how long it would take for someone to die in the river. If H. jumped in now, how long would it take her to get to shore? Last summer it took seconds. Today, she might not make it.

I walked. I drank in the green on the mountains and felt the spray of the river on my face and inhaled the cool air rising from the alder trees. I walked and willed my feet to absorb power from the earth. Power I could not use to protect anyone but myself--and maybe not even for that.

As we drove through Idaho today, we came to the heart of a forested landscape larger than most countries in Europe. We talked about mountains and rivers and forests--what made this plateau so hilly; what made the river bend that way. Tomorrow we will sit at tables and discuss such matters and what humans can--or should--do with places like these.

But when it's all said and done, there's a man back home who won't be there tomorrow because of the daughter he lost. There's a girl nursing her thrills with a hole in her foot. A small part of her is missing. The earth's power will not be hers.

25 comments:

PurestGreen said...

This is such a beautiful post. I am not a parent but after reading this I discern that it is kind of like sitting on a swing that you have no control over, and the landscape is always changing.

Thanks for sharing this - truly lovely.

Jane said...

You write so well. Unfortunately I have no answers. But maybe we are not always here to find answers but to ask ourselves the questions you ask and then move forwards with an open mind.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

So beautifully written, Sallymandy. That was quite a scare about your daughter's injury - so glad she's okay. Have a very safe trip.
Catherine

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

wow sally, that was powerful, the mom guilt evokes a spleen of prose..wonderful...very touching.

Protege said...

You posts are always loaded with emotions and reflections about life and the fact that is so precious and so fleeting; one minute we are here, another we can be gone.
I have no children of my own, but I think I can imagine how difficult it must be to not to worry about them every second of every day.
Sorry to hear about your co-workers loss.
I hope you will have a nice stay in Idaho nevertheless and that your daughter will recover soon.;)
xo

Moannie said...

Our forests are safe all the while there are dedicated people like you.

Tough for you to leave your daughter but like she said 'don't fret, Ma.'

Stephanie N. said...

Jeez. Sounds like you've had a lot to process lately. You know, it makes your writing really shine. That last sentence is stunning.

I hope your daughter's recovery goes well. I'm curious, did they replace the tendon that was removed? I can't imagine a tendon would be deemed not important enough to bother replacing, but then I have heard of stranger body parts not being replaced.

Penney said...

I so understand how you felt leaving your daughter after this. Having the two grown sons that I do, I have "been" there, and still, today, feel the guilt and pain when I cannot be there for them when they're down, hurting, upset, whatever..
I used to take one of them to the ER often, in the night time, because of "tummy aches". He still suffers from them, and I still wish I could be there. Weird? No..Not at all. Just being a mum.
Today she may think your concerns are silly or over cautious..In years to come she will remember them and be grateful to have had you there..
I think you filled the empty seat with xoxo..
Penney

lakeviewer said...

SAllymandy, this is full of motherly thoughts, and human pain. We can't stop things from happening; we can only speak the truth as we see it. Hopefully, people will listen.

Frugal Scholar said...

I remember having two young kids and trying so hard to keep myself from dozing off--afraid of one of those one second accidents.

Now my children are older. But it doesn't get any easier.

Angela Recada said...

Oh, this post just tugged at my heart. I wonder sometimes if that nagging little tug of fear we get every time our children leave our sight will ever go away. Probably not - even when they are grown with families of their own, we will still be their mothers, and they will be our babies, and we will worry.

I love the way you write.

I hope your daughter is feeling better. My heart goes out to the co-worker who lost his daughter. . .

Lola said...

"I walked. I drank in the green on the mountains and felt the spray of the river on my face and inhaled the cool air rising from the alder trees. I walked and willed my feet to absorb power from the earth. Power I could not use to protect anyone but myself--and maybe not even for that." PRICELESS.

Sallymandy, this is a very powerful post. And I'm noticing your writing is refiniing itself, you're sharpening a very fine tool there. I applaud you on doing a great job, and I am proud of you.

Ciao

Sher said...

Being there doesn't stop the inevitable. Being there when we can is the only thing we can do.

I hope your daughter is recovering. That sounded like one nasty wound. Let us know how she's doing.

Imogen Lamport said...

Hope your daughter is better.

It's always hard - you want to protect your kids from all harm and danger, but you also need to let them experience the world and take some risks.

This is the hardest job of the parent -raising not a child, but an adult.

drollgirl said...

boy you are such a good writer. you can convey so much in little space.

most times i do not envy parents. they have the toughest jobs in the world. but i hear it is rewarding.

may your daughter be all better soon.

tiffany said...

A beautiful post. It really struck a chord with me as a mother. Thank you.

Modest Mom said...

Isn't it amazing that we can live in a world filled with both the serene and the frightening all at the same time? Being a parent is filled with a intense mixture of love and fear -- I guess the mixture is what they call bravery.

I hope your daughter heals quickly.

Duchesse said...

Such an evocative expression of the love, risk and knife's edge that every parent lives. I am so grateful that she is able to recover and skip on.

La Belette Rouge said...

I know I am not the first to say this but this is a beautifully written piece.

I can't imagine how hard it is to not cover your children in armor and not let them out of their room. I am so sorry about your daughter's tendon.

Woman in a Window said...

I'm with Lola. I see something here. No, deeper, I feel it. It's all fluid like that river. It is substantial like those mountains. Wonderful writing.

Gal Friday said...

This writing made a shiver go down my spine when I read it, and touched on some issues I have been thinking about lately, myself
(a teacher my husband works with lost her grown son last weekend and we can't stop thinking about the randomness of life and life taken on this earth).

I am glad that all ended well with your fiesty,flip-flop wearing daughter, too...

Maria Killam said...

Moms walk around with a special kind of sweet pain all the time! Wonderful post! I love your blog!

marc aurel said...

I felt as if I had opened the pages of a novel at random.

sallymandy said...

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Green: that is kind of what it's like.

Jane: I liked what you said about asking the questions and moving forward with an open mind.

Catherine/TCH: thanks, I did have a safe trip.

Saz, Protege, Moannie: Thank you all.

Stephanie: They did not replace the tendon, or even mention whether that's possible. The tendon was too damaged to repair, and it's a tiny one that helps her raise her pinky toe. If you try raising your pinky toe, you'll probably see it doesn't raise much anyway.

It's never easy to see a child's purity of body become tainted in any way. I remember when H. got her ears pierced at age 10. It was hard for me. There were her perfect little ears, now with holes in them. Yet I had to let her life proceed. Such is the case with this. I'm so glad she didn't hurt anything worse...though I do realize that a more serious injury could happen almost any day.

Penney and Frugal: that's what everyone tells me...that the motherly protective feelings don't go away. I'm mostly glad for that.

lakeviewer: You're right, we can't stop things from happening. I'm still getting used to this truth.

Thanks for all your heartfelt thoughts, Angela.

Lola: you know how much I appreciate your support and encouragement. Today is no exception. If you're proud of me, that makes my day.

Thanks, Sher and Imogen. She's doing quite well, and I think she'll get back all the motion in her foot.

Droll: thanks, dear. I appreciate that.

Tiffany: You, too. ♥

sallymandy said...

Modest: that's very insightful and wise, what you said about bravery. Thank you.

Thanks, Duchesse. I'm thankful, too.

Belette: When I started to realize what would be required of me as a parent in this regard--not covering her in armor and locking her in her room--I was literally appalled. You're right.

WinW: thank you. That means a great deal to me, coming from such a wonderful writer as you.

Gal: Yes, the randomness of life is humbling and rather intimidating to me.