Exactly one month ago, at this hour, this was my view:
I posted it on my social media and called it “The Longest Night” because it absolutely was.
Longer than a night of labor. Longer than all those nights with a screaming newborn at the breast. Longer than nights spent comforting a feverish child.
Sitting frozen beside my son in a trauma intensive care unit, the minutes stretched into hours. Mechanically-controlled breaths and heart monitors beat out a tune that reassured me and terrified me all at once.
Their rhythm said he was alive, but every pause whispered that there were no guarantees.
Everything they’d told me darted around in my mind like bees in a hive as I sat there, shivering.
Traumatic brain injury. Brain bleed. No prognosis except to wait. Fifty-fifty chance of survival. He’d have died on impact without the helmet.
Thank God for the helmet. But why was he on the motorcycle to begin with?
When I took that pic at 2:40 a.m., I was numb.
I’d already raged. The owner of that motorcycle was on the receiving end of all my fury and had he dared to step in front of me, I’d have beaten him senseless while screaming over twenty years of built-up anger in his face. I have never, ever felt such an overwhelming necessity to keep myself restrained, nor ever felt such a passionate desire to injure someone.
I’d already melted down. When I walked (that Sally Field mama-walk you remember from Steel Magnolias) down that long ICU corridor and stepped between those sliding glass doors, when I saw my son, still, with tubes everywhere…and that shock of crimson-soaked hair splayed against the starched white pillow…when I saw dark, dried blood splattered across his face, I clasped my hands across my mouth and moaned into a wide-eyed, horrified sob like I’d never known.
No, no, no. NO! Oh, God. No.
Why had he decided the week before to dye his hair blond? His naturally dark hair would’ve muted the quantity of blood instead of showcasing it like a stop light.
A mother should never have to see that much of her own child’s blood.
When Donnie had called me hours before and said Zach had been injured, I didn’t immediately fear the worst. I assumed it was minor. It had to be minor, right?
It had to be.
My parents, sisters and I hopped into cars and started the hour-long journey to get where Zach was. And there was a terrible traffic jam that delayed us an additional hour. Each time Donnie called to update me, it chopped away my optimism, and nausea swelled up in its place.
Zach had been seizing on the scene. He was unresponsive. His brothers and sister had seen him loaded into the ambulance.
I felt sick for them. I just needed to get to ALL my babies. And I have never felt so helpless, so stuck, so unable to make something necessary happen.
I dug in my purse for my stash of Zofran. Stress always hits my gut first. But I was still not crying. I was focused on a mission. I was so grateful for my sister driving me but so frustrated by the gridlock that blocked our progress there.
The traffic dragged out so long that we had to exit for a bathroom break. As my mom, sister and I crowded into a Burger King bathroom, Cherie asked me if I needed anything. And that one simple question snapped my focus on the mission. My face crumpled into tears.
“I just want a Coke to sip on because I feel so sick.”
And she handed me some paper towels to cry into. And then I stood outside hugging my dad in the humid Florida twilight, while we waited for the others to get my drink and some food to bring to the kids.
Blessedly, the traffic cleared. We got to the hospital. I hugged my husband and my other kids, hard. And I wanted to help all of them at once, but couldn’t.
There are a lot of hard things we face as moms, but feeling helpless has to be one of the hardest to deal with.
So, yeah. By 2:40 in the morning, I was numb.
Because you just don’t ever think you’ll see your child like this. You just don’t.
We had a good outcome. I’m going to write more about it tomorrow.
But for tonight, I’m just remembering. Like the Israelites, who always made a monument to God at places where He moved on their behalf, this post one month later is my monument, my lasting testament to His goodness.
I have been listening to this song, and editing pictures and crying some more.
Because it was the longest night in my life, but God saw us through.