There are times in the life of every parent when something happens to your child that was just too close for comfort. When your knees go weak thinking how much worse it could have been. When Josh was 2 years old he started to dart across the street in front of a punk teenager racing through our neighborhood. I screamed “NOOOOooooo” and squeezed my eyes shut, but when I opened them, either my scream or the hand of God stopped him from taking the first step and he was fine. I, however, fell to my knees and cried and shook. It was just too close. 9 years ago Rick and the kids were camping on the Methow river and Josh and Caleb were sucked under a logged while innertubing. Rick was sure they were goners. But only their shorts were gone and they made it out in their birthday suits. It was too close, and Rick went weak in the knees.
When your kids are grown adults you don’t expect those moments to come anymore. But last night that moment came for Steve and Cindy, Hannah’s parents, Rick and I, and Matt and Laura. We were having a lovely evening at the lake, using the beach across from Caleb and Hannah’s house, shooting off fireworks, eating, making smores. A family next to ours was also shooting off fireworks, and without going into all the details, one of their mortars got knocked over just as it was ready to shoot and it shot right through our circle and exploded between Caleb and Hannah. I was taking pictures of the fireworks in the sky, but saw out of the corner of my eye the ball of fire speed past me, and screamed “NOOooooooo!” as it exploded. Of course, it’s all a blur, but as the smoke lifted I could see everyone was jumping and screaming and I believe there was cursing, but miraculously, the injuries were minor. Hannah got the worst, some pretty bad burns on the back of her legs, Sarah had a burn on her shin, Laura’s clothing has burns all over her pants and her coat actually melted in places. Caleb was unharmed, and all of us had ringing in our ears. A paramedic was off duty down the beach a ways and was at our firepit in a flash. So to speak. She did a great job calming everyone and getting the girls to the house to look at their wounds.
My friend Joanne and I gathered valuables from the beach, a purse, a phone, my camera, before going to the house, and when I walked in the door I look across the room and met eyes with Cindy, we shared the moment. That moment when a parent’s knees go weak and you think of all the ways it could have been worse. If Hannah had been sitting on the ground instead of a cooler, if Mark and Joanne had scooted closer to the fire when Mark felt cold just moments before, if Sarah had been sitting on the other side of the fire…It was all just too close for comfort.
This morning after sleeping in until 9:30 and letting the dogs out, I looked over at the cooler Hannah had been sitting on. It’s blue. And now it’s partly black. And my knees went weak.