What would we do if we lost our babies?
Last week, we went to Arches where the wind has blown the land into unearth-like formations of red rock. Literal arches of rock paint the sky, as you walk along, feeling small, remembering your place in the world. Liking it all.
We took the kids with us, our beautiful babies, who are now somehow almost 7 and 3 years old, on this first venture ever into the national park just north of our new home.
It was a 3-mile roundtrip hike to Delicate Arch, that image you’ve seen on postcards and websites and after any Google search for “Moab.”
The kids can do it. Yes. Let’s go.
And we set off, stopping to look at petroglyphs just off the trail, the little girl and I falling just slightly behind.
“I can do this myself,” she kept saying, so proud lately of her independence, even though she’s always been this way. She’d smile that confident, wide grin at me, her eyes a reflection of my own, her arms swinging as we walked along.
About a half mile in, the terrain got steeper and the trail a bit more narrow. The terrain was rocky, sort of like gravel back home, only mixed with fine red sand.
The little girl slipped.
I lunged to catch her, to stop her from tumbling right over the edge of the trail, which dropped at least 5 or 6 feet to our right. My right arm scooped her up, and she was fine, though we were both on the dirt floor now and my knee was bleeding.
I bit back tears, and I heard my husband say, “What’s going on back here?” as he doubled back to see why we were sitting on the trail instead of walking.
I tried to tell him, to somehow paint the picture of what had happened, what could have happened, but I knew I couldn’t really articulate it. I knew I couldn’t make him feel that instant pit in my stomach, that sudden shot of adrenaline, that surge of relief, that comfort of her body in my arm, that way I felt all those emotions over about 8 seconds.
It’s in instances like these that I’m reminded of the tale of the woman whose child is trapped under a car. And she simply lifts it up.
Not that I did anything of the sort, not that the little girl was even in real danger, but it’s the split-second reaction of a mother, any mother, any parent, to help her child avoid any physical harm.
So we picked ourselves up and carried on. The little girl rode on my back up the steep Navajo sandstone. Then her stepdad held her around the much more precarious final curve and up to the spectacular arch (she got a ride in his arms all the way back down, too, I might add).
The drop-offs from the cliff’s edge really were drastic; they really were dangerous. But there was enough room to sit and have a snack and take photos and marvel at the arch away from the edge, without much worry.
Still, I kept telling her: “Sit down. On your bottom. Right now. Sit.”
Because there’s just no second chances in cases like that.
Back home, there is a woman whose daughter is dying. Dying. The family has chosen in-home hospice care for their little girl as she lives out her last days.
I’ve been following her story on Facebook. Yesterday’s updates were heartbreakingly sad.
I don’t even know that family. I just know of them, I know their story. I know they have a second child with the same awful disease their first is dying from.
And I can’t help but wonder how you ever move on. How do you say goodbye to your children?
I do not pretend to know that answer or where that strength lies, and I pray to the powers of the mighty universe I never have to know that kind of resilience. Please, I do not ever want that kind of strength.
I guess maybe the answer is courage. You just wake up in the morning because the day comes up whether you want it to or not and you get dressed. And you go on.
And you live, as brave as you can. With hope and faith and the promise of better days, even if the bend is far, far ahead.
Amy Price, I’m asking the universe to pull you through.