WHY I FINALLY DECIDED TO LOOK AT A PICTURE OF MY CHILD'S AWFUL INJURY

🚨Alert! This story has some mildly gross parts, and then it gets philosophical, both of which may offend you.
  1. My son, while in another state, had a really bad accident on Friday afternoon.
  2. Backstory: he's a kid with a chronic illness, and was playing with his best friend who has an even-worse illness, a friend he hasn't seen in months because this friend has been in isolation following a bone marrow transplant. As you can imagine, when I heard there'd been an injury, I was like "HEY UNIVERSE CAN YOU THROW THESE KIDS A FREAKING BONE."
  3. Then the universe typed back "Actual LOL."
  4. Here's what happened: after a sweet slam dunk off one of those bedroom basketball hoops, he fell on a doorstop, the kind that screws into a wall. It basically tore his leg wide open. And I wasn't there. Also when I use the phrase "tore open," I am being literal. Like, the guts of his leg were out.
  5. And I wasn't there.
  6. Sidenote: I am always there.
  7. Other people, including his dad, WERE there, and they took excellent care of him. He was fixed up at the hospital, sent home, and I received a photo of his repaired wound. I did not want to see the un-sutured version, and I was sure to let everyone know. NO PICS PLEASE.
    Then I went about my business.
  8. But, yesterday, I had a change of heart. It dawned on me that this might be the most traumatic thing he'd ever experienced. He was probably terrified. And that even though his leg will heal with (hopefully) minimal damage, the feeling of shit getting real is going to stay with him for a long time.
  9. Also, I could tell when I talked with him, he was sort of...shellshocked, maybe? Like he wanted me to know how awful it was, but he didn't have the words.
  10. So, I asked to see the picture.
  11. And then I saw the picture,
  12. And I realized why I didn't want to see it: because it's an indelible image of just how little say I have about anything. A visual reminder of what can and did go wrong and what could go wrong still.
  13. I had wanted to see the fixed-up version. I had wanted to look at pieces being put back together, instead of pieces splayed every which way while I looked on, powerless.
  14. I AM powerless, though. Mostly.
    It's true.
  15. I can't stop bad things from happening—- this has been a very disappointing discovery.
  16. I CAN be a witness to the happenings, though. I can listen to how magical or messed-up that thing that happened was. How it broke your heart, how it hurt more than anyone can even imagine. How it was the worst pain in your life and all you wanted to do was get on your bike and pedal away as fast as you could.
    How you asked for me even though you knew I wasn't there.
  17. I can look at the horrible picture, and see it.
  18. That is definitely a big deal. And possibly a lesser-known superpower.
  19. If someone in your life needs some space to show you their wounds, give it to them. Be an audience to their story. I don't feel like I've gotten too many things right in life, but I feel pretty good about this.
  20. Then again, I also felt good about this:
  21. *
    Note: I spent a day or two thinking this happened playing basketball outside. I couldn't figure out why there would be a doorstop in the driveway, let alone a door. Or a wall.