BY MARNY STEBBINS
I’m a scout for accidents.
I’m not referring to a Girl Scout, however helpful that may be. So don’t ask me for a box of Tagalongs.
Rather, my feet will find and fall into the smallest of holes with wild abandon. If there is crack in a bench seat, you can bet my load will be the one to burst the timbers … before they impale a bystander. And if there is a rebellious horse available for an EZ trail tour, you can rest assured I will be the one coughing up leaves after a rogue cross-terrain tour.
For a long time I thought I was just unlucky. But, after years of these experiences, I realize I am the 1 percent.
The minimal chance of infection after surgery. Me.
The unlikely possibility of a monsoon on your wedding day. Me.
The small window of error your ultrasound is incorrect. Me.
The risk of finding yourself pregnant while both nursing and on the pill. Me.
Let’s just say I have a detailed survival plan for both plane crashes and accidental root canals. Curiously, both include gas masks and mango smoothies.
After years of public embarrassment and wide-eyed wonder, I have begrudgingly accepted my role in this club. Statistics don’t seem to apply to me, and I have both mourned and celebrated my moments of rarity.
But I was hoping my daughter would not join me in the ranks.
It’s the mantra of any mother who has ever run to a child screaming in pain: it happened so fast.
Last week my 6-year-old daughter broke her elbow.
Not in a car accident.
Not on the monkey bars.
Not jumping off those alluring rock cliffs at Teddy Bear Park.
She broke her elbow in an empty soccer field.
Empty, with the exception of the net.
Welcome to the club, dear. No, I’m afraid there is not any sort of festive regalia for identification. Unless it’s the electric kind that isn’t supposed to start on fire, and in that case … back up from the pool.
Who would have ever thought that given an open green field of grass, one might shatter an elbow? But there she was, arm dangling at an unimaginable angle against her first sundress of the summer. A broken wing.
If you have never had to sing to your child as their eyes search for your face in an operating room, consider yourself blessed. A side effect of the anesthesia, their little body shakes right before they drift off to sleep; a difficult parting image as you surrender your broken bird to a room full of masked strangers.
I don’t know if there is a word in the English language that adequately describes what it feels like to sit in this fear for your child. The uselessness one feels in a waiting room filled with dripping coffee pots and sitcom reruns. The anticipation and fear that the next time you hear scrubs shuffling around the corner, a nurse will call your name with an update. The alarming quiet of collective nerves.
And yet we have to. We have to trust that this time the odds will be in our favor; the bones will align, the medications will work and they will be returned to us, mended, if not healed.
Even if you are a club member.
My heart beats with gratitude each time her chest rises and falls against her lilac cast. Her story might be full of surprises, but this means she will learn the unexpected joy of survival.
And if heredity holds, she will learn it many times.