It sounded like a book falling from the top bunk.  I know that sound well.  When he’s finished, he tosses it over the side.  It hits the ground with a loud thud, even though I’ve reminded him repeatedly that this is not how I wish for him to care for the books in our home.  I’ve even tried, “Books are our friends,” but I don’t think he buys it.

I heard the thud, and I have to admit – I shouted his name.  Not in the way of, “Oh, sweet boy, what was that horrific sound?  Are you okay, cherubim?”  But more in the way of, “For crying out loud, what have I told you about throwing books?!”

But then, a full two seconds later, came the shrieking scream.

I raced up the stairs, taking them two at a time, in that expert way I’ve learned so well.  Tuck met me at the top of the stairs, gasping and pacing in that mindless way any of us will do when pain hits and we’re trying to outrun it.

I knelt on the floor and he collapsed onto me, sprawled across the floor with just his head in my lap.  He gasped in short breath-catching groans, and I saw the purple stripe growing across his back.  It developed like a Polaroid picture: different colors emerged, and finally streaks of wet red.

He had fallen off the top bunk.  And he landed on his back.  On a toppled stool.

And then my son turned yellow. I do believe, for all of my days, I will never take it lightly when I watch someone turn a different color.

And then he coughed, “Mommy, it feels like something is poking me, inside of me.  Inside my ribs.  I feel poking.”

I had visions of punctures and ruptures and long term issues that forbid one from fighting infections twenty years later.

Three hours later, after a visit to an urgent care I know too well, they sent us home with a bandaged wrapped tight around his abdomen, orders to watch for blood in his urine, and instructions on how to care for an abrasion.  Abrasion pretty much means “mean scrape.”

I felt a little stupid. Maybe I’ve become the mom who overreacts.  But my perspective and sense of proportion have altered in some significant ways.

I talk tough, but when it comes down to it, I’m really not that brave at all.

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