When last we saw our fair heroine, she was bent in half from the blow to her gut leveled by Hurricane Sandy . . .
After dragging myself through November, I finally gathered the wherewithal to make it through my finals and my final papers. I was in sight of the finish line. It was the night before a sit-down final exam and due date for an 8-page paper for the same class (who does that to people??!!) when I received another blow. And this one was bloody.
At 8 o’clock at night, after a lovely dinner out with dear, dear friends (celebrating the birthday of my curmudgeonly friend), Ruthie fell up the concrete steps to our third floor apartment. When I turned to look at her, her face was dripping blood. Dripping. From inside her mouth and from the spot on her face where 2.5 years earlier a dog’s tooth had gone through to the inside of her mouth, a spot that had been repaired by a plastic surgeon. I panicked.
Did she need to go to the emergency room? Did this tear open an old wound? WHY oh WHY?! does my poor baby have to keep suffering injuries to her face???!!
And her poor siblings! Isaac especially, I think, continues to have some post traumatic stress from her other facial injuries: the awful dog bite when she was three and the run-in with the post when she was 17 months old. But God bless him. He was a trouper. His initial response was panic and “RUN AWAY!!” but he held it together for the sake of his sister and stood firm. Hannah, too, held it together. Heeded my instruction to try to remain quiet and calm, to refrain from asking me too many questions as I tried to gather my own wits about me.
Have I mentioned how the Go-To Guy for all things bloody (or vomitous, or bodily-fluid-y in general) in our household is, indeed a Guy? The Man, to be exact? I rely more than I should on his training and experience in first aid he received as a 7-year veteran lifeguard. Also, I do little to fight against my general response of Flight to all things stressful. I’m the one who holds and comforts, who tends to the care of the bystanders (i.e., the siblings) and who grabs supplies like paper towels, towels, ice, and bandages on demand. I’m like the administrative assistant in emergencies. My husband is the calm in the storm, the level-headed, the stare-death-in-the-eye-and-declare-it-not-really-death-just-a-boo-boo Go-To Guy.
And yet, here I was. With my youngest poor baby bleeding and scared because she’s been down this road before and it weren’t pretty. And my oldest poor baby trying to be ever-so calm and cool and collected while his uber-empathy was trying to take him over. And my middle poor baby who would have loved nothing more than to take charge and fix things, if only she had the answers to all her myriad questions! And, me. Pretending to be calm. Pretending to know what the hell I was doing. Pretending to be in charge and in control, reassuring everyone of things about which I had no assurance.
Finally, I concluded an emergency room was in order, but I didn’t even know where an emergency room was! So, I left my three babies in my apartment while I went knocking on the doors of neighbors. It only took two doors to get the information I needed (oh! how I love living in an apartment complex full of people whose vocations revolve around helping people!). When I returned to our apartment, I found a beautiful sight. Isaac and Hannah were in front of and along side of a sitting Ruth, rubbing her back, touching her leg, assuring her it would be OK. They had brought out to her the big bucket of stuffed animals so she could pick out the one she wanted for comfort. (Ruthie’s one of those stuff-animal-obsessed kids.)
My two olders. They had set aside their own fears and anxieties enough to be present with their injured sister. My eyes are welling up with tears now as I remember it. I know they were scared. I know Isaac was having flashbacks to the dog bite. And yet, there they were: surrounding her with their love and care.
So, off we went, just Ruthie and me. Thankfully, Ruthie’s very lovely, wonderful, I-love-her-so-much babysitter was able to come and stay with Isaac and Hannah while I took Ruthie to the emergency room. No stitches necessary, though as I look at the scar that remains, I still wonder if we made the right decision there. There was so much of a scrape, I think it was hard to see what all was going on. Her tooth had, indeed, gone right through her skin to the other side. Her lips had begun to swell. She was an awful mess. But not nearly so bad as the last two facial injuries, so . . . well . . . yeah. My poor baby.
Finally, at 10:30 PM, we returned from the hospital. I tucked my baby into bed and went back to the table to finish up my paper that was due the next day and to try to study for the exam that was covering church and state relations from around the 8th through the 15th centuries. No prob, bob. ::sigh::
I skidded into the end of my semester, handing in work I can’t even read again (neither my writing nor the graders’ comments), getting grades I hadn’t seen since 10th grade, and feeling overall completely defeated, out of my league, and like a dingbat for ever considering coming back to school in the first place. January found me in near fetal position and sucking down the entire Friday Night Lights series in the course of three weeks between semesters.
I wanted to quit. I wanted to pack up my kids and our stuff and my books and head back home to the safety of our house.
Next up: the apocalypse continues . . .