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lucky

2013 September 17
by Rachel Turiel

BEFORE:

It’s the sun’s last curtain call. The sky is pinking up. Rose sits on our swing, munching an 8-inch green bean. Chickens swirl like water around her feet, flowing into their coop for bedtime. Col is on the second story of the unfinished playhouse, finishing up another round of “the apple game,” with his cousin Peter (visiting from Alaska), in which apples are launched back and forth from the ground to the playhouse (accessible by ladder). I am yanking weeds through layers of rain-wet soil. We are about to head inside for vanilla ice cream and pear sauce.

NOW:

Crash.

Silence.

“Col?” We call out. “Col?”

Silence.

Cory, Dan’s brother, rushes to the playhouse. He shouts “Col!” as if he’s found Col doing something surprising and awful.

Col is brought to my arms. His breathing is labored, as if the air is thick and viscous. Col’s eyes are unfocused and his body is limp. He is unresponsive. He is somewhere else. I am cradling him, kneeling on the ground, staring into his blank face begging him to keep breathing. His head rolls back. Ladder. Crash. No. Cory calls 911 while my brain screams not this, not now, not like this. Come back, baby. Come back.

“Col, keep breathing. I need you to keep breathing.”

Dan comes outside and reaches for Col, laying the limpness of his son over his shoulder. We see the back of Col’s head for the first time: matted with sticky bright red blood. Dan’s eyes are wild animal terror. My heart is a metronome cranked to its highest setting. We follow Dan to the front yard to wait for the ambulance.

Dan cradles Col’s head. Blood seeps into Dan’s light blue shirt. “I’ve got you, baby. I love you. Your daddy’s here.” My heart is clenched like a fist. Col twitches. His eyes blink and squint. Five pairs of eyes are lasered on him. “What happened?” Col asks. He is back.

Two ambulances arrive. Col is able to tell a paramedic—huge and uniformed like a super hero—his name, his address. “How long was he unconscious?” Oh, that’s the word for it. Unconscious. My son was unconscious.

The paramedics bandage Col’s head. Cory runs upstairs for shoes and a wallet. Neighbors come out of their houses. Col is loaded onto a gurney.

Rose asks, “Is he going to be okay?”

“Yes,” I answer, climbing into the back of the ambulance.

From here, we drop into the system like a ping pong ball. The paramedics squeeze Col into a stabilizing full body suit; they call ER to prepare for our arrival; they wrap an 02 pulse oximeter around his toe. I can’t help but notice that this boy who couldn’t breathe without supplemental oxygen at our altitude until he was 2 1/2, is satting 99% at 6512 feet. Holy preemie miracle.

The ambulance barrels into the night. Relief and gratitude begin easing out the fear. I am left with the knowing that there is nothing more important than our lives. Not my ambitions, nor any amount of money that ever has been or will be in my possession, not our beloved homestead. It is this same love that would do anything for these children—this selfless love that pushes them into the sun while I can be content in the shadows—that is the vulnerable skin of parenthood. How are we supposed to do this? To love these flesh and blood people? I’d like to order the teflon-model kid, because I cannot under any circumstances lose a child.

AFTER:

Col has eight new stitches, cinching up the 3-inch gash to his head, and a concussion. He is nothing but lucky. In typical undramatic Col fashion, he lies quietly on the non-injured side of his head, answering “pretty good,” to our every-20 minute inquiries on how he’s feeling. If I pry, he’ll admit that his head hurts, “a little.” We’re all just so giddily grateful to see him, we fall over ourselves bringing him books and food and kisses.

He’s slowly piecing things together. “There was a yellow bar in the ambulance,” he remembers. “Was that for extra family members to hold onto?” And, “It’s strange how we were all at the hot springs having such a good day, and then later I fell,” he muses, spying the tip of the Things Can Change Irrevocably in an Instant iceberg. He now knows the word “unconscious,” and “concussion,” and that he is one incredibly lucky boy.

 

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49 Responses leave one →
  1. Marcie Morgan permalink
    September 17, 2013

    So glad that Col is ok! Tell him I say hello and hope his wounds heal soon :) So scary when our kids get hurt like that. He is a lucky boy!

  2. Peggy permalink
    September 17, 2013

    oh dear lord!!! I started immediately tearing up and felt sick to my stomach while reading this. I am so relieved to hear that Col is OK. I too could not bare the thought of ANYTHING happening to my children – I don’t think anyone could. We are all lucky – every day – when you really think about it. I imagine my children probably miss disaster 2-3 times a day, and the fact that I commute on a highway going 70 miles an hour each day to work, it’s a miracle that so far….so good. I will keep counting my blessings, and am so happy that all remains well with you all. Take care! xoxo peggy

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      September 17, 2013

      “We are all lucky – every day – when you really think about it.”

      Exactly, Peggy, exactly.

  3. Molly permalink
    September 17, 2013

    So many hugs and kisses to all of you and especially Col’s noggin. May the rest of his wisdom about the ephemeral nature of moments come easier.

  4. dale_in_denver permalink
    September 17, 2013

    Thank goodness! A friend’s son drowned 3 years ago, and I wish no one every had to experience that anguish. Be well!

  5. Anonymous permalink
    September 17, 2013

    Rachel,
    That was us on Jasper’s birthday this year. Jordi fell off the kitchen counter, where they were playing tic tac toe?, onto his head. His eyes rolled back into his head and he began vomiting. I spent the morning in the ER with his head in my lap. I’m so glad they’re okay. (((hugs))) and lots of love.
    Janie

  6. September 17, 2013

    Oh my goodness. I read this as the kids were finishing up worksheets in the next room and started crying and had to explain everything was okay…. it was just a scary story. My girl said to me, “that must be the scariest thing for a mama.” Indeed.
    I absolutely know that terror…. it is the most awful thing. Ever.
    So glad you are all lucky…. that sweet resilient Col is heading back to his healthy self.
    Much, much love to you~~~

  7. rose permalink
    September 17, 2013

    There were stitches involved in our week as well but not nearly so dramatic as this. Still, our experience has had me thinking how lucky we are and how it can all change so fast and all we have is this right here, right now. So glad our babies are ok and will heal. May it always be so. xox

  8. Michele permalink
    September 17, 2013

    Terrifying. I’m SO glad he is OK.

  9. September 17, 2013

    A cousin recently gave me some first person accounts of life from my relatives (all Mormon, and so good about keeping oral histories). My great grandmother Alzina had every childhood disease they now vaccinate for, a crazy amount of broken bones (likely some undiagnosed medical condition), and gave birth to something like 8 children (each one almost killing her – she was sometimes bedridden for a year after a birth), and lost 3. At one point, she went blind for almost a year. (I need to go back and keep better track and write stuff down – it became such a “and then this happened and then this happened” that you lost the thread after a while). She lost her husband when he was 31 to pneumonia while she was pregnant with her 5th child (two of which had already died). She then married her husband’s uncle, who was 15 years her senior, and had children with him, and helped raise his brood from his previous marriage, in which the mother had died in childbirth. And I kept simultaneously thinking “this was life back then” and “oh my God, how did she face the next day, every day. How the hell did she keep breathing?” She lived to be 90. My God these women were strong. They kept going, because they had no choice really. Col is lucky. You are lucky. And we are ALL so lucky to be living NOW and not THEN. SO glad Col is OK! Hugs.

  10. Sheryl Lock permalink
    September 17, 2013

    Oh Rachel I am so sorry for that experience. So thankful that he is ok as I sit here in the store I can not fight the tears from feeling what that must have been like. Ella went unconscious once, I will never forget it, eyes rolling back, I never want to see that again. I am glad you had Dan and Cory with you and that Col is doing well. Love you all.

  11. September 17, 2013

    Having been the person my good friend called moments after she found her 4 year old daughter, blue and empty in her tiny body, hearing the exasperation and confusion in her voice, ‘why… why today? We…we were just playing. Everything was fine. WHY. Why me!? Why is she gone… why is the life I have to live now?!!’ Watching my friend shudder with sobs and watching her become empty of joy for what seemed like an eternity… I live life very differently in the wake of that tragedy. These children we are guardians of are a gift. A treasure. Each day, each hug is a present. These people we share life with, our partners and spouses, they are also a gift. Life is a gift. It is not something we get to own or have a right to. I am so relieved your sweet little man is ok. What a scary, terrible situation to go through. What a startling wake up call… we need those on occasion. To remember that it isn’t about the bills and clothes, and vacation. It is about those true gifts that could be gone at any moment….

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      September 17, 2013

      Yes. This is is true. This is the daily prayer I hope to remember.

      • September 18, 2013

        I so appreciate this comment and your story, Rachel.

        Col! Sending you kisses on the Wyoming wind.

  12. September 17, 2013

    I held my breath for the entire post and am overjoyed that it ended the way it did. Now, I must go and hug my boys. It’s unfathomable how fragile our lives are, and how we just keep getting up and going about them anyway.

  13. September 17, 2013

    Oh my goodness ! Of course so happy to hear all is well. Love how you write Rachel. And Col, take your time and heal little guy ! ♥

  14. Melissa permalink
    September 17, 2013

    I cried reading this too. I hope you all contine to heal well. Sending much love and gratitude for wellness!! Xoxo

  15. Jessica permalink
    September 17, 2013

    Oh my! I can’t imagine the terror. Col is one tough little dude. It’s obvious he gets it from his parents. : )

    Sending healing vibes for the whole family.

  16. brenda permalink
    September 17, 2013

    Very thankful he is all right, and you were there!

  17. Rachel Turiel permalink
    September 17, 2013

    oh my goodness. pulse oximeter brought tears to my eyes, as i know the hospital and anything related to it will always bring back NICU nightmares for any of us who were ever there. so happy col is okay! sending lots of healing vibes. are you slathering him with pinon salve?

  18. September 17, 2013

    Oh my…I had my hand covering my mouth for most of this post. Then tears. Then thankfulness for Col being ok.

    I cannot imagine how hard this must have been for you and your family.

    If I could give you huge mama bear hugs and boil you some tea I would!

    Instead all I can do from afar is to send Col healthy healing vibes.

  19. Barb permalink
    September 17, 2013

    lots of hugs all around, especially for mama and papa! xxxooo

  20. Andrea permalink
    September 17, 2013

    I just sent you an email then clicked over to read this horribly terrifying account that reminded me that life is so… Serious. Although, I am reminded this every time I look at my own boy child. So I will choose to keep things light and humorous by simply commenting…

    Ice cream and pear sauce?? Were you gonna eat that?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      September 18, 2013

      Astute Andrea,
      Nope, not this month.
      xo

  21. September 17, 2013

    Oh. My. God. I could feel exactly how you felt on that very moment. Life is so fragile. Cliché, but so very true. I am so glad all is OK. Pfew!

  22. Melissa Husges permalink
    September 17, 2013

    So glad he is ok. Hugs to you all.

  23. Jen Wolf permalink
    September 17, 2013

    A kiss on his head for every breath he has taken! A kiss to each of you for all the love you share! My heart jumps around in my throat looking for a way out but life is to be lived and this is currently the hardest detail. I am smiling because all is well and I am crying because life is so confusing. I want to be everywhere all at once so I can not miss a thing, but where I am is all it needs to be. Rachel, you have such a convincing, articulate and generous approach to sharing your sweet love. My family is better for it. missing you all. XOXOXO

  24. Susan S permalink
    September 17, 2013

    Thank God for adrenalin. Thank God for first responders. Thank God for children who (eventually) bounce. Thank God for the village. Thank God for more beautiful evenings with ice cream with pear sauce.

  25. September 17, 2013

    Joy told me…ooooph…. take a Conscious Breath on THAT one!

    say what you want about America’s non-emergency medical pandemonium, however, when it comes to Emergency/First Response medicine? Modern Turtle Island is where you want to be…

    Super stoked your little Superdude got through Protected… you wrote of “yoga” in a prior post…well, sure enough…this was one difficult vinyasa!

    Continued Love and Blessings heaped upon your AMAZING Clan! see y’all soon!

  26. Emily permalink
    September 17, 2013

    I had to skip to the end to make sure he was ok. Ack. Sending many healing thoughts his way.

  27. Rosaleen permalink
    September 17, 2013

    Rachel, so so so so sooooo glad that Col is OK. You can breathe easier now mama……or just plain breathe right? He is lucky and amazingly resilient…life is incredibly precious and I know it is damn scary when you see your little ones hurt! Your words and expression of your experience and love for Col made me tear up too. Take care and I’m sure he will be back up on the playhouse in no time… :-)

  28. Emmanuelle permalink
    September 17, 2013

    Oh Rachel… I am so shaken by what happened. And so grateful that Col is safe.

    A big hug to you all, and love

    Emm
    xx

  29. September 17, 2013

    Oh, I know this scary, pit in stomach, heart breaking open feeling. I felt it all over again with tears reading this post.
    So happy he is safe and sound.
    Sending the best of thoughts and healing vibes his way!
    And hope you get some rest. I was camping out bedside for some time… Just to make sure he was still breathing.
    xo

  30. Sharon Ray permalink
    September 17, 2013

    I thank God that Col is well. Boy, it is accidents like that that make us truly
    feel how much we love our VIPs.

    I’m loving you all from California, and I always will,

    Sharon

  31. Jo Hadley permalink
    September 18, 2013

    Your writing is too good Rachel; I felt just terrified reading this. I’m now wiping away the tears and just feel relief. Love to you all.

  32. Amy Carney permalink
    September 18, 2013

    Wow! So glad to hear he’s OK….just this past Friday my brothers little girl fell hands first into a campfire suffering 3rd degree burns on both arms and hands, and is in an ICU burn center. I pray for a quick recovery for your son and my niece and am reminded to hold my babes a little closer. Sometimes life gets so busy we forget how precious each moment really is.

  33. September 18, 2013

    Yikes! So, so scary. The absolute worst to see your own child hurt…and to fear something worse. So glad he turned out all right, although the stitches and concussion…no fun. Take care, and hang on, mama, it’s a crazy ride this parenting stuff.

  34. Ania permalink
    September 18, 2013

    Being a parent is the most terrifying thing. I was seriously scared just reading this. So glad you were able to title this post “lucky”. Ufff…

  35. Crystal permalink
    September 18, 2013

    I’m sorry to hear about Col’s accident, and I’m glad that he’s ok! I hope Col has a swift recovery.

  36. Chi-An permalink
    September 19, 2013

    My heart is so full of things to say but really… .just a good hard hug for each of you. And much love all around.

  37. Ellie permalink
    September 19, 2013

    Good lord, Rachel, I had been waiting to read this post, which arrived in my email inbox two days ago, because I wanted to have time to savor it properly, as I do all of your words. Instead, my heart rate is trying desperately to slow down as I type this.

    I am so glad Col is well, and there is pretty much nothing else to say. He is so so very lucky.

  38. September 20, 2013

    Oh my God, Rachel. How terrifying. I’m so sorry, but so relieved that he’s okay. Thank you for sharing this. That you were able to craft this so beautifully in the midst of everything is extraordinary.

  39. September 20, 2013

    Omg. I’m not good with blood or unconscious children. I’m glad he’s okay! But, what a rush.

  40. Amy Morrison permalink
    September 21, 2013

    Rachel, Just reading this today. Wow. SO thankful that Col is ok. How terrifying. Hugs and love to you all.

  41. September 25, 2013

    Mama. I want to say something important but right now. Right now, this moment, Ruby just woke up and I’m going to go with her to bed (also she is patting my boobs saying ‘honky honk honky honk’).

    Love you, love you family. Thankful thankful thankful. Love love love.

  42. Alanya permalink
    September 29, 2013

    Whew! Thank god for the happy ending to this story! My heart is racing!

  43. October 2, 2013

    OMG i’m behind on reading and just read this with my heart in my throat. I’m so so so glad he is okay xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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