Thursday, March 29, 2012


Perish - Curve (mp3)
Fait Accompli - Curve (mp3)

Two years ago, our family celebrated the arrival of spring by stopping by Renaissance Park and sliding down those trademark hills on cardboard. We brought our newly-acquired Nikon SLR and took some of our most cherished family pictures. The slant of green hill against undisturbed blue skyline, isolating one child or all of them against a background of simple and almost pure colors, made it easier to feel like a professional photographer.

My son is now four. He is a nuclear reactor of excitable atoms eager to explode on the world around him at all times, which is to say he’s no different than most toddler boys.

This week, we decided to return to the scene of our great outing of two years ago, camera and cardboard in tow.

The minute he saw me sled down that hill, he wanted to be a part of it, so we trudged back up the hill together. I plopped him my lap, mostly ignored or downplayed his last-second misgivings about the stunt, and pushed us toward the pull of gravity.

Everything was great for the first 15 feet. Good acceleration; not too fast. But we began drifting toward a bald patch in the grass, and I knew we wouldn’t avoid it. The cardboard stuck on the dirt, but we continued our forward momentum. With so much momentum and not wanting to fall on my dear son, I picked him up in the crook of my left arm and attempted to slow myself by standing, but the additional weight in my arms carried me too strongly forward, and I knew we were doomed to fall.

By some mixture of luck and instinct, I was able to fall so that my shoulder and knee hit, and we rolled so that my son never actually hit the ground. When we came to a stop, he was screaming and crying, but the only damage done was a small bump on his forehead where my chin hit on one of the rolls.

He was back up and sledding down with his sisters mere minutes later.

I was left to lick my own paternal wounds -- the skinned knee and the bruised ego -- and I began mentally tallying up my moments of good fortune.

How much worse could that tumble have been?

What about the time, playing with my daughter, when I raised my head up from the ground and the back of my head slammed into the bridge of her nose? We had to go to the ER for that one.

What about when she, a newly-crawling infant, slipped through the cracked door to the basement and began tumbling toward me, step over step, as I was walking up with a load of laundry? I dropped the basket and caught her onesie as she fell off the side of the steps, some seven feet above the hard concrete basement floor.

Each daughter in her infancy fell in the pool dozens of yards away from me, yet I was somehow able to get to them quickly enough.

What about the untold number of moments I can’t even remember anymore, moments where the health of my children were at serious risk? Hell, how many brushes with death and calamity have passed by me and my children without us even knowing it, shooting stars we didn't look up to notice?

So lucky. So very lucky we’ve been. Life can turn on any dime, any random unfortunate happenstance can end it or alter it, yet we’re here.

Tumbles. Falls. Collisions.

Yet Healthy. Alive. Unscarred.

God? Luck? Destiny? Instincts and timing?

I do not know and never will. I only know sometimes I feel like we’ve gotten away with something.

1 comment:

Daisy said...

What you have gotten away with is three children with jubilant hearts and heads full of happy family memories. I'm pretty sure they wont remember all the near death experiences.