I got the phone call this week that every parent dreads…
“Mrs. Branch, this is Callie’s teacher. She has fallen off the monkey bars and has hurt her arm. She is crying…….”
I didn’t even listen to the rest of the message. I had been in my office working and left my cell phone downstairs. I heard it ring and made an attempt to rush downstairs and answer it, but I didn’t get to it in time. When I picked up my cell phone, the caller ID read “Neuse Charter School”. I thought, hmm, wonder what’s going on. I didn’t immediately rush to a negative outcome, but was curious. Once my phone alerted me that I had a voicemail, I promptly dialed in and entered my password, not knowing that my day was about to change drastically.
When I heard Callie’s teacher’s voice, I panicked a little, but as I listened to the voicemail, I panicked a lot. My baby, hurt and crying. Fallen off the monkey bars. Me here and her there. My heart ached to soothe her pain and make it all better.
I rushed downstairs and grabbed my keys and bag as I was dialing her school. I got the receptionist as I was backing out of the driveway. “Yes, Mrs. Branch. Hold on and I will transfer you to her room.” No answer. UGH! So, I dialed another number, this one vertical, eternal, omniscient. And, I never get a busy signal, wrong number, or voicemail.
I knew I was panicked and I needed to regain my composure. Callie needed me and I needed to see her. To hold her and make sure she was okay. The fact that she was hurt bothered me, upset me. But the thing that upset me the most was that I was not there for her. I wasn’t there to protect her and keep her safe. As I placed my call heavenward, God reminded me that He was there with her and that only He can always protect her. He is her Protector, just like He is my Protector.
Now that is a difficult lesson to learn as a mother. God has given me two precious lives to protect, care for, love, and guide. Yet, I can’t always be there for them and I have to be able to release them into His care when they are not with me. I have heard many people say that “parenting is an 18 year process of letting go”. However, all I wanted to do last Wednesday from 1:10pm to 1:30pm as I was driving from Clayton to Smithfield was hold on to her and protect her.
I got to her school, ran by the office to sign in, and ran to her classroom. I had to see my baby. When I went in, she was sitting with her classmates on the carpet listening to her teacher as she explained their next assignment. Callie caught a glimpse of me and I caught a snapshot of her that I will never forget…her face, full of pain and fear. I could tell that she had been crying and was in physical pain. She had the look of “mommy, I need you” in her eyes…those crystal blue eyes that capture the essence of her soul.
She got up, cradling her left arm into her slight frame. I met her halfway and she just melted into me like ice cubes disappearing in hot tea. We were one…sharing our fear and pain. Her pain was more physical and my pain was more emotional. Her fear seemed to be one of confusion…what happened to me and am I going to be okay? She wept and her body lurched into me again as she said, “mommy, it hurts right here” pointing to her wrist. I remember asking her what happened and she said that she fell from the monkey bars and that she landed on her back and her arm was under her.
Between gasps and tears, she said that she couldn’t breathe and couldn’t talk. Her friends saw it happen and ran to get her teacher. When her teacher got to her, Callie was on her hands and knees trying to get oxygen into her lungs. She said, “mommy, I was scared…I couldn’t tell her what happened because I couldn’t talk.” Little did she know that I was scared, too. I put on my best strong mommy face and held her close. I knew in my aching and fearful heart that her arm was either broken or severely sprained because Callie has a very high pain tolerance and it takes a lot for her to cry.
We left her classroom and headed to Wake Med Pediatric ER. She calmed down a lot on the ride to Raleigh. We talked all the way there and she shared her story with me several times and I asked questions to help her remember.
We left the ER 4 hours later with a broken left radius bone and a temporary cast. She was such a brave, brave girl. And, mom was not anxious or panicked…I had a very real and palpable peace while we waited for answers. Callie fell from almost 8 feet. She landed hard and could have broken so much more than her arm. God protected my baby when I couldn’t, and for that I am grateful.
Just as He chose to protect me 33 years ago when I was run over by a tractor, He chose to protect Callie on September 21, 2011. I believe with all my heart that God held back the tractor wheel and prevented me from being crushed into the ground on that early September morning in 1978. Yes, I ended up in the hospital with a badly fractured pelvis, but I could have died. Yes, I had to learn how to crawl and walk again, but I could have been paralyzed. Yes, Callie broke her arm and scraped up her back, but she could have broken both arms or her legs or had a spinal cord injury. The same God who held back the tractor wheel, held out His hand as she fell and protected Callie from much more serious injury. And for that, I am very grateful.
I am indeed thankful for the broken radius bone that the hot pink cast protects on my sweet girl’s left arm. I am thankful because I don’t know what the outcome could have been…I can only imagine. God knows…HE KNOWS! He knows that there is more to the story that I don’t understand. In faith, I will choose tonight to accept His sweet gift of grace…and tonight that sweet gift is a broken arm.