Thursday, March 08, 2012

There are moments of my daughters life which are frozen in my memory. Every feature etched into some memory bank which holds my deepest fears.

The first came when she was but a few weeks old. I was exhausted, as all new parents are wont to be. I had finally coaxed her, swaddled, freshly changed and breast milk fed to sleep. I had her on a pillow, to help her reach my breast while I lay on my side.

I crept out of the bedroom into the living room. I sat on the couch. I fixed myself something to eat. I proceeded to attempt to feed myself...when I heard it. It was far away and muffled.

I kept eating pondering this sound I was hearing. It certainly didn't sound like anything I recognized.
God, this was a good sandwich. I was starving. Chew, Chew, Chew....when my brain placed the sound.

It was the sound of my daughter, screaming and frantic. But different. The sandwich fell to the floor as I raced to the bedroom. Emily was face down, in the pillow. I fumbled with her body as I flipped her over, my tears already starting to flow.

She was red faced and pissed off. I stood, crying, trying to console her..trying to control my heartbeat and my hyperventilating.

Newborn babies don't roll. They don't roll. Never.

Fast forward to a 14 month old Emily reaching up to the counter to pull the mug of coffee I had left out. I watch in slow motion as the liquid splashes down over her head, sure that she has just suffered major burns.

Or the moment I turned to see my 18 month old daughter upside down in the lake in her Super Baby Float. Legs in the air. Eyes wide and staring at me from under the water, her mouth opened in a silent watery scream. As I moved towards her, the motion of my body in the water pushes the float further away from me. I got her upright and out, and held her as she vomited water over me and cried. Rocking her back and forth. My sobbing outpacing hers.

When she was three, she decided to mail a letter. We were all working outside. I was in the garden and she was on the porch, writing to her friend. With the determined energy that only a three year old possesses, she got an envelope and made her break for the mailbox on the other side of the road.

Terrance and I looked up to see her on the other side of the road, as a construction truck passed by, blowing her hair as she stared across the road at us. A road that never had traffic, and certainly almost never big trucks.

I couldn't even scream. I didn't want her to move and I feared that my yelling would cause her to step towards me and under the truck.

I can still see the curls next to her face, moving in the wind created by the truck. She was wearing a red and white striped shirt.

Even as I ran towards her, my minds eye was already seeing my child, my baby caught up by this truck, in the axle, under the tires. Just as I had seen her covered in burns, or drowned, or suffocated.

She has forgotten most of these things. Which is as it should be. She lives in a world which is safe, for the most part. Her parents and family surround and protect her. We set the stage for her performances, and we clean the stage up afterwards, preparing for the next day. I protect her from a majority of my fears, for they are not hers to have.

And then sometimes, the fear comes true. And while I don't know this man, this blogger, I do know the fear - which is not one I ever knew before Emily was born. And I grieve with him.

For our children are fragile. But maybe we, as their parents, are more so.

July 2, 2007 Gimlet Eye

2 Baleful Regards:

Amy Y. said...

Wow. I can count several moments like that. I have run into the ground the story about how I could not go into hardware warehouse stores when the girls were wee because all I could imagine were ceramic tiles winging down from above to slice off one of their heads. Even when we are in overdrive on the protection front, crap still happens. I remember doing a running dive from across the room, over our king-sized bed to knock Viola down just as she was about to stick a dinner knife into an electrical outlet. To this day I have no clue how she got ahold of the knife and on my honor, I had every outlet in the house baby-proofed-and with the kind of thing that actually screws in so they can't just pop them out- that was, literally, the only uncovered outlet. I feel your fragility.

Neeroc said...

Those what ifs, the milliseconds, make me sick to my stomach when I think about them.

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