We pulled up in front of the pre-school, running late.
“Let’s go, Bob. Crawl across and come out my side. Quick, quick.” He inched his way across the back seat. He tripped and his knee struck the floor of the car, his tiny skull headed straight toward the pavement. I turned toward the car door and without time to think about what I was doing, I kneeled quickly and held out my hand, catching his head just before it would have hit the ground.
Tiny Bob and I were traveling with Jeff and his band. We got off the tube in London and were headed toward the night’s venue. I had Bob in a Bjorn carrier on my chest. The guys walked ahead of us in the crosswalk. Becky and I waited at the corner for the light to change. I looked to my left and saw that the street was clear of traffic and stepped off of the curb. Becky put her hand out on my arm and pulled me back just as a bus whipped by from my right. I had forgotten that the cars drove on the other side of the street in England.
These are memories that wake me up at night.
He is a regular boy. He has fallen and skinned his knees at the park, conked his head on the doorjamb, rolled off the couch when he was small. I have rushed him to the doctor from a bad fall and when he jammed something up his nose. But those near misses, the life and death ones: What happened there? Was it luck or fate or some divine intervention? Is there an invisible force, guiding those hands that moved so casually to stop a tragedy, crossing a boundary between life and death? Like a cat with nine lives, how many freebies do we get? Why do some kids get no free ride at all?
These are the anxious questions I ask at four in the morning.
I remember then, my son is not really “mine” he is God’s. It’s my blessing to be with him and my job to try not to mess the whole thing up too much. Then I can let go. I can go back to sleep.