Thursday, August 18, 2011
One in a Million
You are over the shock of the shark attack that happened one month ago. I give you and everyone who asks reports of miraculous healing. It is true. It is all sealed up. Where the shark bit into Lucy's leg there are only scars now. She is not walking, but that seems just around the corner and that is because she still has a leg.
But we are still absorbing the shock of the shark attack that happened one month ago. I know this because tonight, Lucy kept calling for me after I had put her and the other kids to bed.
The first time was for the itching. Itching is good, I tell her. That means your body is doing its job and healing itself. But, she says, it is hard to fall asleep when it itches like that. So together we take off the ace bandage and the gauze and the padding and the splint.
"Aaaah", she sighs, laying back on her pillow. I think to myself that this is all a ploy to get another chance to inspect her new leg. She loves it. Yesterday, after a nice scrub in the bath, she was doing that very thing. Running her fingers over the new terrain of her calf and ankle and foot. She points to the teeth marks on the far side of her calf,
"They look like dinosaur bones! I like them. I want to keep them. Can I keep them forever?"
I think she thinks that "healing" and "all better" and "fixed" mean her leg will look like it did before. She worries that that is the case, because she like her scars. Even at six years old I think there is a real sense in her that she earned these. That they came at a price that she paid and deserves to display this trophy for the rest of her life.
We reassure her that they are hers to keep.
Then, again, another call from upstairs, but this time not to scratch an itch but to dry some tears. It is actually a relief to see her cry. Have you ever cried because you just felt like it was the only way to let it out? I know that she has so much of this trauma still inside of her. Because I do, too. She has not complained once since BSA (before the shark attack). She asks a lot of questions, but she never complains. Which is a miracle in itself as her three siblings do circles around her. She never complains.
We recently returned from a three-day trip to visit Dr. Gooch's parents in Omaha, Nebraska. As we were packing up to leave, the kids were getting very antsy, so I took them outside to "run off" some energy. Seth organized a race around the apartment building. I could see in Lucy's face the ache to get up and run with them. She has always been competitive. But she was happy to enter the contest on her Dad's back. Seth, Hazel, and Avery went again and then a third time. Lucy sat on the porch watching. When they all made it back she yelled out,
"Now we'll have a scoot race!" And they did. And she won.
Tonight for the first time, Lucy let me run my fingers over her leg. Together we talked about each part of the new topography formed by the scars. They were so warm. So were her tears. She seemed to have much to let out this night. Her Dad went back to the Outer Banks earlier this evening, staying in the same place where we stayed a month ago. While he's there, he plans a run, and maybe, if he's up to it a swim in the surf.
We know it won't happen again. But it is hard to convince your mind after it DID happen. And in nearly every other situation in life, if it happened, it can happen again. We talk often of when we will go back into the ocean. But, another first tonight, Lucy asks,
"What if a shark bites me again?"
"What if a shark bites one of the other kids?"
"What if, when I have kids a shark bites one of them?"
I tell her that she is the only one. You're the only one, Lucy. In our whole family far and wide, you will be the only one who gets bitten by a shark.
Big smile. Then, more tears and yet another first. As if we were two 33 year olds having a good cry, she leans into me, puts her forehead on my forehead and wraps her hand around the back of my neck holding me there. Big hot tears drop on her leg, bent below us. So close like this she still looks into my eyes and with one last big sob says,
"I'm just so glad you're my mom."
Me, too, Lucy.