The blood-curdling scream rocked my foundation. I couldn’t get there fast enough. It felt as if my feet were stuck in thick mud with each leap forward I took to close the 20-foot gap between us.
Chloe just lay there howling in sheer terror with these giant beautiful eyes looking up at me to erase the pain – to make it go away and stop hurting.
“Am I going to DIE?”
“No honey, you are going to be just fine; you are not going to die, I promise” I said calmly as I held her bloody foot in my hand, high in the air to stop the flow from continuing to gush further. I held her close, offering words and hugs to try to assuage her fears – to no avail.
“I want my DADDY! … I wish he were here! … I want to go home! … It HURTS! … Where’s my MOM? … Am I going to be okay? … Will I have to have surgery? … Will they cut off my foot? … Will I lose any of my toes? … I don’t feel well! … Can I call my dad? … I’m scared…”
“You’re going to be okay. I promise… Of course you can call him. Let’s get the phone. What’s his number again? Let’s do that right now, okay? … Let me clean you up a bit and get the blood to stop, all right? … Let’s keep your foot up high, okay sweetie? … You’re going to be just fine. … You want to call your mom too? OK, let’s do that.” Although it was only a matter of seconds or minutes, it felt like hours. I was responsible for this sweet child and I felt like I let her down. My heart was on fire with ache. Calming words were used. Hugs were bestowed. Calls were made.
We were just there delivering lunch to two of “the guys” planting the first seeds at the new farm. We were not going to stay. In fact, the kids had already eaten their lunch and were looking forward to getting back into the little kiddie pool we set up for spring break on our back deck – AT HOME.
But as kids tend to do, they began exploring while I went in search of “the guys” to let them know their lunch had arrived. I had just waved a distant hello, grabbed my phone and walked a few yards away to take a photograph when I heard all three children utter cries of “Raccoon!!!” and “Hey Ben! Get away from there with that shovel; you’ll scare it!” and “Let’s get out of here!” At that point, I was already headed back toward the barn and their cries when they started running. Did I mention they were at a formerly abandoned farm with bits and pieces of random building parts and tools strewn about? All three children were actually running, to my terror – in three different directions. Aack! I would have given anything for Inspector Gadget’s arms at that point to reel them in.
Aren’t raccoons supposed to sleep during the daytime? I never actually saw the beast but all three children most definitely did and were most definitely terrified – and probably scaring it to death at the same time. Ben was actually using a shovel to dig in the hole it just ran into. WHAT? He probably thought he could bury it – who knows? Oh my goodness! How can three children get into so much simultaneous mischief in 3 short minutes? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.
Maybe the raccoon just wanted to know what the heck we did with its two friends we caught recently. I’m quite certain it was just appearing mid-day for a little chat and a gentle reminder: there are more of them – we are outnumbered, folks.
Chloe’s rather unfortunately chosen “escape route” from the non-nocturnal visitor contained a newly collapsed barn wall with scores of 3” nails protruding directly into the sky – and now, with our sweet girl’s size 3 shoe and foot quite firmly attached to one of them. (Thank the LORD she only caught one – mere millimeters away were a group of 5 – FIVE – nails sticking up! I might have actually passed out at that point. Wouldn’t THAT have been fun?)
As I plunged toward this sweet child like an awkward teenager in an unfamiliar sport, my heart nearly escaped its encasement. I had to quickly and carefully lift her shoe – and attached foot – up and away from the giant nail to which it was embedded. The 3” spike felt like Mount Everest at that point. I wasn’t quite sure what I would find inside her shoe honestly – but as I worked, the intensity of the screams began to escalate. Oh please, please, please, let her be okay…
The shoe was flung off; the sock gingerly removed and loving energy and pressure applied. Chloe began to utterly wail and now my daughter’s sobs echoed behind me. My son Ben quietly and silently disappeared into a far corner of the barn.
“I have special magic powers, you know. Healing powers. Can you feel them working? If you’re really quiet, you can actually feel the magic.” (I was actually referring to the reiki I was giving her, although this was not the time for explanations of this sort.)
One small head nodded in agreement. She was listening, and paying attention to my hands! I, honestly, was surprised by her reaction: “Really? Does it feel better now?” Nod, sideways head tilt: “sort of…” I honestly didn’t have any illusions at this point that anything could have erased the kind of pain this brave soul was enduring, but was thrilled my “magic” was working!!! Wow was she brave – and so incredibly strong! There had been a 3” nasty, rusty, ugly nail stuck in her foot – I don’t know how deep – sheer seconds prior! HOLY CRAP! What a girl! I was truly proud of her for being so calm. Sad, yes. Hurting, definitely. But calm – absolutely, and paying attention to my every word and facial expression.
At one point, she said her foot was “tingling”. Oh no! Did the nail puncture a nerve? Is she going to have to go to the ER? What does that mean? My mind was racing out of control – of course she spotted it and called me on it instantly:
“Why did you make that face?”
“What face, Honey?”
“That one – when I said my foot was tingling?”
“I have no idea – did I make a face?”
“Yes, yes you did. What did it mean?”
This smart girl misses nothing. This went on for a while until I realized the obvious: her foot was merely ASLEEP – from me holding it up in the dang air for so long with pressure on it. Oops. Duh!
While we all have stories of stepping on nails, it’s quite different being on the other side of things.
This was not my foot.
This was not my child.
I had no idea how far in this nail had gone.
I didn’t even know if she had had a tetanus shot recently.
I wasn’t her parent.
Can you imagine?
More than likely I appeared surrealistically and unnaturally calm on the outside. On the inside – I thought I was going to vomit. I am still queasy and it’s been 24 hours now.
Everything is fine; Chloe will be just fine. Really. A sincere thank you to Chloe for her many sweet phone calls to tell me she’s doing fine and not to worry! I appreciate them. She must know I am a steroidal worrywart.
Guilt and nausea aside, I have also a measure of gratitude: thank God she didn’t have a close encounter with the raccoon!