We were sitting in the living room with the windows open. I had taken the girls and one of their friends to the mall for a fun girls afternoon, and the minute we got home, they wanted to go play.
I was about to make dinner, and I hesitated before I let them go.
They stood there and looked at me, then they repeated their request.
“Can we go?”
“Okay, you can go. But you’re going to have to come in for dinner soon”
I should have told them to come in. It’s my fault.
We heard her taunting the neighborhood cat.
“Kyyyyyle, Kyyyyyle, Kyyyyyyyllllleeee”
The next thing we heard was screaming.
I looked over at my husband and started to get up from the couch.
“Shoot, I bet the cat got her. She’s never nice to the cat”
I slipped my shoes on and opened the front door when the scream escalated from “I hurt myself” to “Call an ambulance”.
No, no, no, no, no, no
My blood ran cold and all I could feel was my heart pounding. I don’t even remember if I got my shoes fully on. I couldn’t see her because she was behind the pickup truck. All I saw was Hanna and her two friends bolt into the neighbors house, looking for an adult.
I found Lana on the ground and she was as pale as a ghost. At first glance, I could not figure out what was wrong. She was trying to hold her arm, but she was still screaming. I still remember the screaming. It still makes me sick to my stomach. She was just screaming that it hurt and I looked her over and nothing looked wrong.
“Lana, what is happening?!”
“I DON’T KNOW! MOM, IT HURTS!”
Then I rolled up her sleeve.
Her arm was twisted the wrong way and bent inwards. I felt myself start to dry heave and begged my body not to betray me. Panic washed over me and I don’t know how, but I scooped up our daughter in my arms and started screaming for my husband.
By the time I had crossed the street, Lana’s screaming had stopped. She was whimpering. Our neighbor was running over and all three of the other kids were in tears. Her older sister was hysterical.
I looked at my husband and kept saying it over and over again:
He took her from me and looked me dead in the eye.
“VERONICA. Are you okay?”
No, I am not okay. I am not the go-to person when bad things happen. I am a disaster. Please make her stop hurting. I can’t make her stop hurting. I am trying not to be sick.
I told him I was okay.
He took one look at Lana’s arm and he breathed in sharply.
“Veronica, get in the house and get my keys, phone and shoes, now”
I knew it was really bad.
I wasn’t crying. I wasn’t allowed. Not yet. There were still small eyes on me.
The baby was crying because I took Daddy’s phone away from him. He hadn’t moved from his spot on the couch this entire time. He was watching Spiderman.
Our oldest was still crying and hugging her friend. Our neighbor looked on helplessly. His daughter broke her arm last year. He knew the drill.
I kissed Lana before he took her. Did I kiss her? I would like to think that I did. Damage control is not easy when you’re a wreck.
I was supposed to be making dinner. I should have made them come inside. It’s my fault.
We waved goodbye to Lana and Daddy as they rushed off to the Emergency Room.
I had to feed this kids, but I could hardly feel my legs. I sat down on my front porch, and my neighbor was still standing there. Neither one of us really knew what to do, so we consoled the little ones.
Eventually, I took mine into the house. I think Hanna made her and her brother Kraft Dinner.
I started cleaning.
I hate cleaning, but this is my default stress response.
I hugged Hanna. I told her that her sister would be okay.
I hugged Levi, because he was mad that Hanna got a hug and he did not.
I got them both ready for bed and kept my phone with me in case my husband called.
Once both kids were safely out of earshot, and tucked in, I walked into our bedroom, through the bathroom and into the closet.
I closed the door. I sobbed into a pillow, just in case.
It was my fault. I should have made them come inside.
It was my fault. I am supposed to protect her.
It was my fault. Now she’s in pain and I can’t fix it.
I don’t know how long I was in there for. I just wanted our daughter not to be hurt.
The emotions I cycled through over the next few hours were confusing. I berated myself for having such an incredible reaction to our daughter breaking her arm. Just a few weeks before, her older sister ended up in a cast after a softball accident. I wasn’t there; my husband was. There was no Emergency Room trip, just the regular doctor, x-ray and orthopedic surgeon visit. Just.
It had been our first broken bone.
I really expected it from the baby before either of the girls. He’s all over the place all of the time. But then here we were, with two broken bones within three weeks of one another.
I was heartbroken for my daughter. All of the “they’re young, they’ll bounce back” lines given to me really didn’t make it any better.
It’s just a broken arm, Veronica. You’re overreacting.
It could have been worse. She wasn’t listening. It was a really hard lesson for her to learn.
My husband called a short while after I got the kids down. They had given her an opiate because they had to set the bone. They’d give her a splint and a sling until the swelling went down enough for us to take her to the Children’s Hospital later in the week to get a hard cast. When they set the bone (which my husband told me sounded like snapping a tree branch over your leg), she didn’t even cry. They said she was the bravest 7-year-old they had ever met.
From the story the kids tell, Lana was playing in the back of the neighbors parked pickup truck. They had been told to stay out of the truck (more than once). She was sitting on the edge of the bed and fell backwards, onto her arm, onto the sidewalk. Both of the bones in her forearm were broken, and her ulna was also twisted.
Before setting the bone (left) and after (right).
I don’t know why I felt the need to document this, but it has been bugging me for a little while. A few weeks out and she’s more annoyed by her cast than anything else (it’s a long arm cast), but she’s definitely back to being her happy, bouncy little self.
It was important to me to write this down.
We are all so fragile. They are all so fragile. So many lessons to be learned and so much around us that serves as a reminder of just how much we have to be thankful for.
I’m thankful it wasn’t worse. I’m thankful for the friends who were there to help us. I’m thankful for our wonderful neighbors, who checked on her frequently, came to sign her cast and baked her cookies. We love you guys.
I’m thankful it was only a broken arm.
Hug your kids today. Text your spouse to let them know how much you love them. Call your Mom.
It could have been so much worse.