A few weeks ago, I saw a scary thing. I was watching John play a soccer game, and suddenly a driver lost control of his SUV, hit a parked car (or two?), knocked into a soccer goal, and rammed onto the end of the field next to ours. Just yards away from where our team was playing.
Several people were injured, but — fortunately and perhaps surprisingly, given the number of people present — nobody was killed. And make no mistake, that is the most important thing about this story.
I remember it this way: I heard a loud bang, and looked up to see the car, clearly out of control, and people being thrown into the air. Instantly I looked at John, desperately small and young, watching the crash. I ran to him, picked him up, turned him away, held him tight. I hustled him to the other side of the field and kept him distracted. If my hands were shaking, then surely this wasn’t something he should see.
It was a terrifying day.
Ever since John was born, I’ve been worrying. I’m super alive to the various possibilities of what might hurt him, or how he might hurt himself (possibly because I’m ridiculously accident-prone myself.) I want him to stretch and grow and test himself and be brave, but I think about physical danger with a wrench in my gut and discreet white knuckles. I’m only pretending to be brave. In fact, I’d like to wrap him in cotton and keep him in a box.
Ever since that morning at the soccer game, I’ve been thinking more about close calls. Waking up at night and imagining what might happen and how I might keep him safe. Thinking unreasonably about it, creating perfectly impossible situations that I might need to look out for.
Because having a car ram onto a soccer field was a perfectly impossible situation. But that happened.
Will there ever come a time when I don’t worry? I can’t imagine there would be. And I can’t imagine that this will get easier once he’s bigger, more independent, and out in the world on his own.