You see that face? That sweet, innocent face?
That sweet little innocent face put TEN YEARS on me in a matter of three seconds. Turned my hair white. Sent my heart leaping from my chest in fear only a mother can know. Only a mother who KNOWS that the end has come.
She was around the age you see up there, outside in the backyard playing with her brother. I was in the kitchen making lunch. Or dinner. I don’t remember exactly what.
But I’ll never forget the SCREAM.
High C. Higher than that. A stratosphere piercing wail capable of bringing down passing aircraft. I. Am. NOT. Exaggerating. Not at all. A cry so awful, so dramatic it could only mean
one thing. Three things. Blood. Broken bones. Death.
I saw it in my mind’s eye. AWFUL THINGS!!! Arterial spewing. Jagged bone jutting through muscle, flesh and princess tights. Lifeless children (except the screamer) tangled in the swings.
I dropped what I was doing. Raced out the backdoor. Took in the sight before me in a nanosecond. Two children, both alive. The screamer upright, standing next to the swing. Looking for all the world like she was posing for Edvard Munch. Her brother standing nearby begging her to stop.
No blood. No broken bones. No fallen aircraft, monsters or rabid dogs.
Just. A. Spider. A little, bitty spider. A spider that wasn’t even there anymore, most likely incinerated by her hot flaming piercing FREAKIN’ scream.
I fell to my knees, hugged her tightly, kissed her sweaty little cheeks. And then when things settled down I told both children that screams like that were only for the most dire emergencies. For blood. Broken bones. Severed body parts. And that Mommy most likely would not survive another one.
Well, I gave them the kid version. But they knew what I meant.
We all survived. They grew up.
The screamer graduated with honors from one of the world’s top universities.
And moved back home because there aren’t any jobs.
I was sitting on the sofa an hour or so ago. Exhausted to the point of vegetation. It was late. Probably 10. Quite dark when she took one of the dogs out in the back yard. Not a fancy civilized back yard, just a fenced in area to keep the coyotes out. And the bears. And mountain lions.
I was sitting here thinking I was going to skip writing a post tonight. I was too tired. I was okay with that decision and was settling in even deeper on the sofa…we have very comfortable furniture, a little ragged but comfy… I was almost drifting off when I heard THE SCREAM.
The same scream. Except this time she’s an adult. And we live in the country. Wild animals. Hungry animals. And dogs so small, they’re no protection, just appetizers.
Oh. Dear. God.
I tossed the laptop aside, ran to the door, fully prepared to fight off a bear, wrestle a dog or my daughter from the jaws of a lion. We reached the door at the same time. Me from the safety of the living room, daughter from the wilderness. The dog was with her. I saw no blood, broken bones, gaping wounds.
WHAT??? What what what what WHAT?????
It took a few seconds for her to settle down, to explain what happened. And when she did, she sounded like she had a world class wedgie and a few hits of helium. But I was able to piece it together. Mothers can do that, you know.
We have to.
And if she ever sees another moth and screams like that again, well, I’m not about to lose any more decades over creepy crawly flying things, if you know what I mean.
Even if it was a really BIG moth.