On June 15, 2007, in Melbourne, Florida, our middle daughter Mary Helen was running up the tiled hallway full-speed with the kinetic energy of a roller coaster, when her legs got tangled with each other as they are known to do. We heard a sharp impact and saw her dive headfirst into the tiles, irreparably damaging her front two baby teeth. She was/is fine, and the teeth in question have since been prosthetically enhanced before eventually making way for other permanent teeth to grow in. Here was my “take away”.-DD
How could You? How, literally, could You do it?
How did You deal with the sickening pain? This pain that numbs from within, and is so terrible that it simply surpasses anger and goes right to miserable tears and brokenhearted desperation?
How did you choke back the sobs? The groaning of utter helplessness? How did we possibly matter enough to You that You could just sit still when we did not even deserve such a costly gift?
It’s like your heart stops, then starts, and then stops again with each attempt to beat….
I rushed over, moments after my own precious, tiny, impossibly beautiful baby had been whisked up from the scene of The Incident, and that’s when I saw it.
My own irreplaceable child’s smudged tiny handprint….in blood.
Drops. Drops, large angry red drops… and small pools all over, and tiny splashes marking the trail to the bathroom…and seeing her gasp for breath amidst the cries, and seeing her injured, seeing her wounded.
It made my insides thud to silence. Broken, brutal, silence.
I could not, nor cannot, keep the tears of pain from welling up in my own special agony. The agony of a Daddy who would do anything for his child, would trade anything for those recent moments before The Incident. A Dad who wished more than anything it was his own blood and not his special, helpless, innocent…above all, innocent, child’s. A Father who would blot and preserve each and every microscopic drop if it would put her back to new.
All pain is not merely physical.
This pain is horribly sickening, this pain inside. I see her precious blood spattering the sink, and my shaving cream, and the toothpaste tube, and I see her tiny hands and arms shaking as she struggles to overcome the pain and interpret what has happened. And I think that there is no way I would ever understand allowing such a thing to happen for someone else’s benefit, or even preservation. I would collapse and die of overwhelming, sickening, regret. Regret that it had even happened, that my child was even bleeding.
Her eyes brim with tears as she stares silently, deeply into my eyes, searching for the meaning of this pain that has shattered her happy existence. Is this, too, what life involves, Daddy? Is blood life?
Yes, my angel. Blood is indeed life.
I do not like it any more than you do, but blood is essential for life. It is joy and at the same time overwhelming pain. Blood equals life.
Eyes dark and silent, her tiny head dips as she thinks over the previous minutes and replays the moment when pain and injury and hurt descended like a crashing whisp of glass shattering to the granite floor. Her eyes move to the blood on my shoulder. Her blood. I see the tears of recognition come and it shreds my soul even more. Her fist and arm curls around and presses against my neck and won’t let go. And I don’t want it to let go.
How could I ever allow my beautiful, sweet, precious baby’s blood to be spilled for ANYONE, nevermind anyone who would be potentially ungrateful?
It is conceptually beyond anything I can grasp, and yet You forced yourself to inaction. You allowed more than I as a Father could even bear. You have to be the most patient, forgiving, restrained, and loving Father to ever exist if You could watch that and not despair. As each beat of Your heart was pain, as You saw those tiny hands and feet wounded, as You saw that innocence brutally ruined, and You willed Yourself to do…
Nothing could gain more respect from me than Your simple act of inaction when they, we, did that to Your special little incredible Child. The one You loved so much, the one You cherished like I cherish mine; we spilled Your child’s blood and You forgave us.
As I knelt in the darkness hours later, holding her tiny hand and listening to the quiet peaceful breath, it all crashed in again and I realized how much I don’t know about You and why You would, could, let it happen.
Over and over in my mind I see her blood, the blood, and it brings new pain. My heart will never be quite the same, forever broken again in just a small way today for this child, as it was stirred to anger when they pierced the other daughter’s skin years ago at a cold hospital on a cold night in June. But today transcended anger and went right to numbness, to pain. How could You watch the puddles form and see the precious skin broken? How could You see that and not destroy everyone involved?
How did You endure seeing Your own child’s blood sprinkle the ground, with every drop wrenching and ripping the very heart from Your chest?
The blood is killing me inside.
The blood has been wiped away now, and there are only tiny drops missed here and there, but I still see them and each tiny one is my baby.
The blood is crumbling me, crushing me.
The blood has power over me. It shucks my layers of defense, it makes me raw and unstable, it cuts me to my very soul. It makes me cry as if I were not a thirty-one year old man. It holds ultimate significance and makes the cares of life inconsequential and filtered from relevance. The blood of my child is a bitter, horrible, infuriating, grief-stricken sight, and I cannot bear it. How could You?
Yet the blood brings perspective. It is life and it symbolizes the death we all carry inside us, the humanity of death, and injury, and smashing your teeth on tile floors, and bleeding precious blood. It also represents that which will never be smashed or killed, that which energizes beyond anything we know here and now as life. Each agonizing drop spilled is a bruise to my soul, but it is all that matters to me.
The blood, in that moment, is everything to me. In this moment it is my all.