The Space She Held

I never speed.

I’m religiously faithful to speeding limits. I keep my hands at ten and two and scan the horizon for traffic signs and police. I’m cautious. When I test drove a sports car the salesman told me to open her up and see what she could do.

I opted not to and instead bought the mid-sized SUV. Safe and slow.

But, last Thursday at 4:30 pm I flew down the mountain in my mid-sized SUV, hugging every curve and thanking the maker (Ford) for my vehicle being able to handle the twists and turns. I clenched the wheel and blindly zoomed, exceeding the speed limit by ten to twenty miles in some places. I broke the laws laid down by not only the city but my own personal code.

Because my nine year old sat in the backseat, fading into unconsciousness, blood running down her face, color slipping from her cheeks.

What is usually a twenty minute drive turned into a ten minute hellride to the closest hospital. This hospital has an entire separate pediatric center and pediatric ER so as soon as we pulled up they took her to the back. 

By 7:30 that evening we were pulling back into our driveway, three staples in her head, and prayers that their initial observations that she did not have a concussion were correct. (To ease you, it would appear they were right. No sign of concussion. Staples out in a week.)

Three hours earlier she’d been knocked to the ground by the swinging feet of some friends on a tire swing gone awry. Head wounds bleed liberally and like some dogs, the bark was worst than the bite. The trauma caused a nearly inch long cut but three staples and some popsicles later, she was cuddled into bed.

And then I fell apart.

Up to that point I’d held it together so well. I’d called my partner, they’d left work and met us at the hospital. I called my brother and sister-in-law. I kept my daughter calm. But, I was falling apart inside because there was one person I wanted to talk to most…and I couldn’t.

I couldn’t call my mom. I couldn’t tell her what was happening, I couldn’t listen to her voice telling me it would all be okay, I couldn’t fall apart and let her pick me back up again like I knew she would. I was living this motherhood nightmare and facing a fear all parents have and deep down I just wanted my own mom to tell me I was going to be okay. That we were going to be okay. 

There will always be a space in my life where she should be. There will always be ER visits and holidays and phone calls and she will always be absent from them. And it hurts. It hurts so bad.

I’m grateful my daughter is okay. So grateful. And she is such a little badass. Hasn’t complained once about her staples. If anything, it’s made her braver. Made her proud of herself.

And I’m trying to feel braver too. I’m trying to live my life in such a way that my mom would be proud of me. I’m trying to live up to her last request of me before she died.

“Keep being my brave lion girl.”

I will, Mama. I miss you…

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