The Worst Moment of My Life

I had just told the acquaintance at the park, someone who graduated from my same class in college and who now goes to Mars Hill Bellevue just like we do and whom I was re-"meeting" for the first time since college, how Roger is fearless. It kind of freaks me out because while I love that he's so excited about everything sometimes I wish something like the possibility of falling would scare him.

It sure doesn't. He thinks he can walk down the stairs. He can't, but since his mama and dada are always there to catch him no amount of demonstrating how to scoot or reverse crawl down the stairs works. He just stands up, turns around, and tries to step down.

Exploring off the beaten path...so like him
I didn't just tell the acquaintance Roger is fearless--I told her that I was certain broken bones and gushing blood, hopefully not much, much worse, is likely in our future. And so we were chatting about our children and how her babies, each about 3 months older than mine, are also 18 months apart. We talked about how great it is to have a boy and girl (her girl is older, the boy is the baby; we are, of course, reversed on that) that close in age and how hopefully our little siblings will grow up well off for it. The upside of the oldest not remembering life as an only child; the downside of feeling like that special one-on-one time wasn't quite as long as we had thought it would be. Just general chatter.

As we chatted, Roger was way up high on the top level of a fairly tall play structure--a nice, solid one because clearly Redmond invests well in its parks--and I worried he might pitch himself down a big slide without Daddy there to catch him at the bottom. But then Daddy was standing right there with him, carefully ensuring his safety, so I felt ok.

Then, mid-listening and responding, through the myriad of bars I thought I saw an opening just behind where Roger was standing. Why would there be an opening in the middle of a play deck that high off the ground? [What I couldn't see is that it was this little climbing thing...hard to explain without pictures, but it's simply a place for bigger kids to climb up high on strategically placed sideways metal "U" shapes.]

Just as I was about to pause my conversation and call out to ask Jason if indeed that was an opening a "big kid" (about 6 years old) went to go past Roger to the slide. He didn't push Roger but he sort of nudged him a bit to say "make room" and Roger, enthralled with big kids, especially big boys whose bodies can do all the things he can't quite make his comply with yet, obligingly stepped backward to get out of the way.

In the single most horrific moment of my life, literally as my mouth was opening to say, "Jason--[is that an opening behind Roger?]" I watched my beloved, treasured son's tiny 18 month old body step backwards into nothing but air and fall, fall, fall 8-9 feet. He landed flat on his back and his little body--that precious assortment of belly and limbs that I tickle, sweet head that I must kiss at least 30-50 times a day (not an exaggeration)--bounced off the wood chips.

How could I NOT kiss this face all day long?
Because my mouth was open to say, "Jason," I actually just screamed, "JAS!" and ran so much faster than I knew this massively pregnant body could ever move. Other adults who saw it happening were running, too, and all I could think was, "I have to get to my baby first." I covered twice as much ground as anyone else but was still there first--that mama-emergency-adrenaline is real stuff.

I picked Rog up tenderly, making sure he was breathing and moving ok; he'd had the wind knocked out of him and was trying to figure out how to breathe. He simply wanted to snuggle in and be held; I think some element of not wanting everyone too close, to have some privacy, was there, too. There was minimal crying but much clinging and it took a few minutes to get him to let us make sure he could walk around, move his limbs, etc. Being the trooper that he is, within 10 minutes he was running around happily and not quite into being carried anymore.

That vision of Roger stepping back and just falling still haunts me. In part, there is the battle against guilt. Did I see it? Should I have called out to Jason sooner? Should I have just paused the conversation the second I had concern, instead of trying to figure out mid-convo, from 30 feet away, where I couldn't seen well, if indeed there was an opening or not? Should we have ever let our 18 month old up that high in the first place? Praise Jesus, I haven't struggled at all with blaming Jason. He was right there, and he even saw the opening, it just never seemed that Roger would be close enough to it to fall until suddenly the kid was running by and Roger was falling. But I truly am grateful that there's no husband-blame in my heart. I know Jesus would help me if there were some of that, but I am grateful that there isn't.

There were moments in my heart of, "Jesus, that opening was so narrow, the play deck so big. Literally one step in either direction to the left or right, or even being a step forward toward the middle of the deck, and Roger never would have fallen. Why didn't you just let it be a close call, an almost fall, that made us realize the danger so he could never have gotten hurt?"

There have also been many, many moments of simply praising Jesus for the miracle that Roger wasn't hurt. He literally fell as perfectly as possible--he fell so flat that his entire body, except for his head, evenly absorbed the impact--and his head never hit the ground hard, not even in a snapping-back motion from not hitting on the initial impact. I've gone over that a million times, too, how even being slightly to the left or right or turning to his belly mid-air and we likely would have had a very serious injury and been rushing to the ER. Or had a motionless body that required calling an ambulance. Shudder.

With both of my babies

Instead, after a conversation with the on-call doctor (who confirmed what I already knew to watch for, praise God, via redemption from my own horrible concussion when I was around 3 or 4) we saw zero signs of anything to cause concern and Roger has been his normal self ever since those initial 10 or so clingy minutes post-fall.

Honestly, I cannot explain the will of God. I could try to pull a theological treatise on why God allowed it and how he showed how good he is and the fruit that's being born as a result. I don't need to do that--despite the bit of wrestling I already mentioned, in general I just have such peace and gratitude that my baby is ok. Never has his life been so precious as when I realized just how quickly it could be gone. Never has his body being whole been such a gift until I faced how easily it could be broken.

I say this not for melodrama or effect, but in conversation with Jason later I told him how I could completely relate to every mother whose worst fear is no longer something happening to her but something she can't stop or control happening to her child. I've lived through some horrible, horrible things but I can tell you straight up that I would endure a thousand incidences of rape and abuse--countless incidences, really--if it meant I could ensure never seeing harm touch my child. I wouldn't question it or think about it--were the option presented (I know that would never really happen, but still) the decision would already be made. It's like how if at my next OB appointment my doctor shared with me a crazy rare condition I had that meant it was my life or Juliet's and we had to choose--my mind is already made up. Juliet lives, I die. It isn't complex for me.

This doesn't make me a good mother, for the record. It doesn't even make me a godly mother. See, what I learned more than anything is that true, godly motherhood places my sweet babies in Jesus' hands, says, "Thy will be done," and then continually cries out, "Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief [that your will is truly good and I can and should and do and will trust you]!" I have zero control and not even the right precautions--making sure Roger's daddy was right there with him as he explored, me staying down below watching out for other dangers, staying engaged with Roger's activities and not just checking out while he entertained himself, etc--prevented our son from coming upon harm.

This addresses a fear deep in my heart--what if Jason and I worship Jesus, really truly worship and love him, and by his grace we model repentance and real relationship with Christ well, and Jesus is as real and beloved as our broken sinful selves can possibly show our children; what if all that happens regularly and consistently in our home and then those sweet babies, whom we ache to see worship Jesus and be freed from their sin, utterly deny and reject him, and the worst kind of harm--that of not being in Jesus' Book of Life--eventually comes upon them? Maybe it happens through rebellion and all those "ills" Christian parents fear--drugs and sex and tattoos and living loosely and irresponsibly. Maybe it's through religious little Pharisees who live for praise and admonition of others for their accomplishments of service and smarts and talent and performance, and they even look like good little Christians but really they love themselves and their own ability to try and be like God and they hate Jesus.

Our family of four
I cannot control anything. Yes, I can love Jesus and tell Roger about Jesus and cry out daily for the grace to live a life of repentance so my much adored babies might see and be drawn to Jesus, but I cannot give the grace to open the eyes of their heats that will empower them to surrender to Jesus. Only he can do that. If ever I see them spiritually flailing through the air, I won't be able to control how they hit the ground. I can only pray that it's miraculous, one that ends in eternal life if indeed it happens.

For now, though, while at the park on high-up structures our babies will have Daddy at their side and Mama directly below any openings, that much is certain.

Thank you, Jesus, for Roger's whole, unbroken body and life. I pray his Spirit will indeed one day be whole and he'll know eternal life with you; you know this is also my prayer for Juliet. I pray that my babies will one day worship you in Spirit and in truth and that Jason and I would also worship you in these ways as long as we have this great gift of raising them.

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