Blaming Ourselves When Bad Things Happen

B recently had a terrible fall. It was the single most frightening moment of my life. I saw the entire thing. I was RIGHT THERE. It was the kind of fall that could have been much worse than the six stitches and diagnosis of a "mild head injury."

I saw it happen. I was holding the baby. W was there. Matt was in the other room. It was as bad as every nightmare I have ever had about something terrible happening to my children. I couldn't move fast enough. I needed a second to think. To figure out a plan. To assess his condition. To make everything ok.

I put the baby on the ground. I reached for B. And I was so thankful he was coherent and breathing and with me.

I can list the ways the accident could have been prevented. I described the fall to the EMT and then the emergency room doctors. I told them all the details, admitting my short falls. And I have seen it happen again and again in my mind. When I'm giving him a hug, when I'm driving down the street, when I'm in the middle of a meeting... The vision of his fall haunts me.

What haunts me more is the thought that a parent could react in any other way. That was the case in the book The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, my latest From Left to Write Book Club read, which inspired this post. A mother drops her child down the stairs and convinced she'll be blamed for doing it on purpose, she calls the police, claims a robbery, then trashes her house. This becomes the baby's first memory and echoes throughout her life.

This post was inspired by the novel The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver. Mere months before Noa’s execution, her victim’s mother changed her mind Noa’s sentence and vows to help stay the execution. Join From Left to Write on July 30 as we discuss The Execution of Noa P. Singleton.. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.