Sometimes a close call puts everything into perspective, and reminds you of what you are most thankful for.
Yesterday, my mom and I took my daughters to a movie and then to the park. My eldest has just figured out how to swing on the monkey bars and was desperate to show off her new talent to grandma. My youngest, not to be outdone, recently learned how to pump her legs and swing herself and she couldn't wait to get up in the sky and close her eyes and feel like flying.
This kid, my youngest, used to be afraid of swings. It was the one thing she was afraid of, but no more. Now we can officially say she's fearless. As you might expect, this means that my nerves are almost constantly frayed as she leaps from one death-defying act to another. For a kid with no sense of danger, she has made it through four years surprisingly unscathed, but she has had her fair share of minor scrapes and spills.
Which is why, when I first heard her crying from across the playground yesterday, I wasn't overly concerned. I looked over and saw her scooped in my mom's arms and assumed she had fallen and skinned her knee. But there were a lot of people seemingly frozen, staring at her, and there was a man standing in front of my mom saying something which I couldn't hear over the crying, crying which wasn't stopping. I ran.
I got to her and saw that her little face was covered in blood. I heard the man's voice apologizing and saying that it had never happened before. It seems my daughter, who adores dogs, had asked to pet the man's dog and he had said yes. She was petting the dog and tried to give it a hug and the dog turned and bit her face.
She was okay. She is okay. A quick assessment revealed two bite marks, the most severe just an inch below her right eye and the other a minor cut on her top lip. We rushed her into the car and to the ER (by the time we were in the car, amazingly, she had calmed right down). And nearly four hours and two stitches later, I got to bring my little girl back home. In one piece. Smiling, with fistfuls of stickers from nurses, asking for a burger.
My mom and I tucked her into bed last night (her tummy full of hamburger, as requested) and, for once, this exhausted little thing didn't put up a fight. She fell into a deep, peaceful sleep and my heartbeat finally slowed down a little.
So today, on Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for my girls, for my healthy, amazing girls. I am thankful for them every minute of every day but you can bet I held that little one even closer when she climbed into my bed for a cuddle this morning, cheerful and ready to take on the day like it was any other. I am so very thankful that the bite was only very minor. This was a full grown Rottweiler. This could have ended so badly. I am thankful for how calm my mom was as she comforted the granddaughter in her arms, for the reassuring hand she placed on my arm at the first sign of a waver in my voice as I spoke on the phone to the girls' dad, telling him what had happened. I am thankful that I have inherited some of that strength and have the ability to quell the rising panic, set aside emotion and think clearly to get things done, and grateful too that my daughter seems to have inherited that strength in turn. I was thoroughly floored by the incredible toughness that my only-four-years-old daughter showed as she lay perfectly still while being poked and prodded and numbed and stitched in a bright, noisy hospital far too close to bedtime. I am thankful for free healthcare, a privilege I don't take lightly, and for the absolutely tremendous ER doctor for explaining everything to me very clearly and setting me at ease, but mostly for making my daughter giggle on a gurney while he washed her wounds and sewed her back together. I am thankful she is home.
Tonight, full to the brim after a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with loved ones, my little girl sat back in her chair, grinned the widest grin, and said with a sigh, "This is the life." Oh my dear one. It most certainly is.