Sometimes life throws a curve ball. Not just a curveball, but a wild, woolly brick of a ball that changes course and shape as it speeds directly at your stomach, and all you can do is keep your eye on it and hope for the best as you swing. At that moment, life is cut in half. Everything from then on is either referenced in your mind as before the curve ball or after the curve ball. Like some kind of internal marker.
I’ve talked about some of my curve balls before, and I know that so many people have experienced much scarier, more devastating curves with infinitely more dire outcomes. And I know that pain is relative. That one person’s experience is inherently incomparable to another’s.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds. But it does teach perspective. So many times I have been incapable of hitting that curve ball when I see it approach, but somehow by the time I am forced to overcome it I have.
People often remark how brave my husband and I were when I was on bed rest and when my baby daughter, (now an unstoppable force of glittering fairy princess superhero five year old sparkle), was so very sick so many times. As I look back it seems surreal. We weren’t brave. We were without options.
The person I was five and a half years ago was not capable of even imagining getting through that whole mess. NICu’s and paediatric units are full of parents not capable of dealing with what lies ahead. And yet somehow they do. They come through bruised and battered, but they come through.
In the moments of pure fear, a terror deeper than any you’ve had for yourself, you do whatever you need to to survive and you find what you need. When you are bargaining with the universe, praying to a god you never really believed in, looking for signs in the stars and making deals with the devil and silently, desperately begging your insides to come up with something stronger than you are, somehow, regardless of the outcome, you find it in yourself.
Maybe its the knowledge that you have to find it for the sake of your child. Maybe we really don’t know just how capable we are. Maybe we come through changed. Not unrecognisable, but different. With the bumps and bruises, maybe theres a new wisdom or understanding or skill that is earned. Its a mystery, but its there.
I watched the video of the little boy shell shocked after a recent bombing in Syria. And I thought of the exquisite pain I had felt when I feared for the life of my own child, and how somehow, inexplicably, despite the lack of options and the curve ball and the many many smaller curve balls we went through, how we survived bruised and battered with new outlooks and perspectives.
That little boy touching the blood on his forehead. Not understanding what it was, what his surrounds were. Where his family was. Seeing things no child should ever ever see. The image is visceral and disturbing. I want to reach through the screen and hold his hand, let him see kindness in my eyes, tell him it will be okay.
Except for that little boy it probably won’t be. I am sure in his tiny life he hasn’t developed the necessary skills to process what he’s seeing, the fear he’s feeling. No time to become brave or stronger than he is. He’s had no time to bargain with the universe or gain wisdom. And I bet, no matter what happened in his life to that moment, he didn’t see that curveball coming. Battered and bruised doesn’t even begin to cover life for this child, literally or figuratively. His tiny life is already cut in half and he’s only five years old.
And the only way I can make sense of all of this is to realise that we are not protecting the most vulnerable in our world. 50,000 children have died during this war in Syria. We are failing.