My son fractured his wrist Friday night--a scaphoid fracture, which apparently is difficult to heal. Today, an orthopaedist fitted him with a full arm cast (a purple one--Arin's color choice.) He's going to have to wear it for 3 or 4 months, possibly longer. My poor skateboarding, guitar-playing boy. He's taking it all in great stride; I think the news was harder for me. As the doctor explained how the injury happened right where the artery supplies blood to the hand, and if the bone is displaced, it will cut off the blood supply in the hand and bones will start dying inside him, I started to feel dizzy. Arin and I had been joking earlier about the little vials of smelling salts taped to the cabinets in the room, but I began to think I might actually need one of them. I always get a little light headed when anything happens to either of my kids.
Arin had to take off his long sleeved shirt to accomodate the cast. We were in a room divided into two exam areas; the two women--one probably in her late 30s and her mother--waiting in the adjacent area couldn't take their eyes off Arin's bare chest. The older woman actually took a few steps closer to get a better look. So interesting to see women staring at him that way (although I don't blame them; he is a gorgeous 16 year old guy.) I looked at Arin's shoulders, and remembered a portrait of him from when he was about 6 weeks old. A photographer came to our house to take pictures, and propped Arin up, his little arms crossed on top of the cushion in front of him. His shoulders looked so burly for a baby as he rested on his elbows, so well muscled and defined, lightly feathered with hair. They look almost just the same now, only on a much larger scale. My baby, almost all grown up.
I think of Arin's hand bones, shoulder bones, forming inside my belly, and it makes me dizzy again to think of anything happening to any sweet part of him.
I was recently asked to read two novels in manuscript. In both of them, women lose their sons when they are young men (one dies of an overdose; the other dies in an accident after being kidnapped in Africa.) I have been feeling such sharp stabs of loss as I read these beautifully written stories. They remind me that Arin's skateboard accident could have been so much worse. Still, his injury can't help but drive home how fragile life really is, how the world as we know it can change in one swift moment, how we need to hold those we love close to our hearts because we don't know how long we'll get to keep them there.