when pain crumples

Written by Sandra Heska King

PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.

September 18, 2012

She lies crumpled near the goal, in front of the other team’s spectators, and her wail impales my heart. But I’m a good soccer mom/nama, so I sit glued to my chair while her coach runs to her. Soon he’ll sweep her up in his arms (with a few jokes), set her down on the bench to collect herself, and she’ll be back on the field in no time.

But not this time.

Two dads from the other scrimmage team join John and hover over her, and now I’m running across the field with another nurse mom. Grace can’t stop crying, can’t catch her breath, and she won’t move her right arm. She manages to tell us she felt something pop when she hit the ground, and I see the telltale bump.

Later in urgent care after an x-ray, nobody has to point out the white jagged line on her clavicle.

She couldn’t wait for soccer season, but it’s is over before it starts. Her disappointment is as palpable as her pain.

My heart crumples.

She has to find a new way to sleep, a new way to care for all her activities of daily living. She’ll need to depend on others. She’ll need to learn to ask for help, to accept help, to wait for help.

She’ll need to let pain be her guide.

The way up her long drive is paved with potholes, so she chooses to camp out here.

We saw another kind of pothole in the bed of the Presque Isle River.

“The finely terraced rock over which the river flows is called Nonesuch Shale . . . The round potholes in the riverbed form where an eddy current continually swirls pebbles and sand grains in a circular path. Over time, the scouring action of these materials wear away the softer shale forming the large, smooth-sided potholes that you see.”

I reflect on this. Our lives are paved with potholes, bumps we travel over and through on our journeys. And sometimes it takes troubled waters to soften our rough edges, to swirl life’s grit in heart holes scoured to hold more of Him.

I’m both tickled and sobered when I trip over this verse from The Message.

Crying is better than laughing. It blotches the face, but it scours the heart. ~Ecclesiastes 7:3

“God’s going to teach all of us some patience,” I tell her, as I pull splint tight, force shoulders back, make her stand tall. She’ll have very good posture when she heals.

I remind Grace that her mom tore an ACL during a soccer game and needed knee surgery. She was the same age.

“So it’s a family tradition?” she winces as she laughs.

We agree that her sister should not play sports in fifth grade.

I prop her up on couch, place serving tray on hassock pulled close. And at night, I crumple myself into the leather folds of a too-short loveseat nearby.

Before the week is out, we travel around sharp curves, over dips and potholes down a country road so she can sit on the bench and cheer her team on toward the goal.

29 Comments

  1. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    Oh, dear. Is there anything quite so crumpling as to see a small dear one in pain? It’s so clear to me that Grace has exactly the right Nama. God is so good that way.

    And this scouring that you write of, these smoothed-out potholes? I’ll be thinking of this, today, Friend.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I saw/read about those river potholes Sunday. Mulled over them. She got hurt Tuesday. I wish it was me.

      Reply
  2. dukeslee

    Oh no. I’ll bet your heart skipped, like, 20 beats! You are a great “nama.” Had to laugh along with Grace’s sense of humor about “family traditions.” Too sweet.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      At least 20 beats. It’s been a week now, and she’s still struggling with pain. She’s learning to do more for herself, but it’s impossible to get dressed alone–and impossible to dress her without hurting her at least a little. I’ve shed a few of my own tears . . .

      Reply
  3. Carol J. Garvin

    The scouring? A little like purifying with fire, perhaps? There is a lesson, but I wish that particular one hadn’t come Grace’s way. Patience and speedy healing to your sweet gal, Sandy.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      A lot like fire I’m thinking, Carol. And sandpaper and SOS pads and…

      Maybe if she’s scoured now, she can avoid it later? No, probably not. It’s a lifetime thing, right? Passing on your words of love. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Lynn Mosher

    Oh, bless her heart! Always hurts a momma’s/nama’s heart when a little one is in pain, of any kind. So interesting you use that image. Hubs was just talking about a similar occurrence in another place. Praying Grace heals quickly and perfectly.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Thank you, Lynn. It’s scary in those school halls. She’s trying to walk in the back of lines, etc., to avoid getting jostled, but apparently got a good crowd bump today in the rush to get outside after lunch. It prompted a call home to come home, but she agreed to ask the secretary for her ibuprofen and try to stick it out.

      Reply
  5. Diana Trautwein

    Beautiful, Sandy. Exquisite, actually – which is also a good word to describe the kind of pain she is enduring, both physical and psychological. And you, too, dear Nama, you, too.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I’ll be glad when this is over…When did I last tell you how much I appreciate you?

      Reply
  6. Megan Willome

    I love the line about not letting her sister play a sport in fifth grade!

    Lately, I’ve watched my 16-year-old son deal with an injury that should have sidelined him. He determined: No. He did see the trainer every day last week to prepare for his meet, but I wanted him in bed. He just ran a 5:22 mile yesterday–his best time yet. Guess he knew more than his protective Mama.

    Reply
  7. Monica Sharman

    All this crumpling…and you know what? That last “crumple” is comforting.

    Yes, yes, keep cheering toward the goal.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I’m not sure when we’ll find ourselves back in regular beds. She actually fell off trying to get up last night. Sigh…

      Reply
        • Sandra Heska King

          And yesterday she got jostled at school…and last night a spider on her blanket. She was a little more sore today. 😉

          Reply
  8. lauralynnbrown

    Crying “scours the heart” — oh my yes. And leaves that rough-cleansed feeling afterwards.

    Reply
  9. lindalouise

    I wish it wasn’t so, but it is those painful times that draw me closer to Him. I love reading your posts Sandy. It’s almost like sitting and talking – almost.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      I know. I guess we need those reminders that we’re not alone and can’t handle stuff alone. (And you know where I’d *rather* be talking to you. 😉 )

      Reply
  10. Laura Boggess

    You are such a good Nana. Praying for the healing, the smoothing over of the potholes. Such a lovely telling, Sandy.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Thanks, friend. Of course we know as soon as one’s filled, another will be roughed up, right?

      Reply
  11. Sharon O

    oh so hard to be a part of, yet you helped and encouraged while your heart was racing and wanting to faint. The JOY of being there.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      And so glad we were. Her mom was playing volleyball 20 miles away. And had this been just a regular practice, we would have just dropped her off.

      Reply

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when pain crumples

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 3 min
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