My Worst Fear

Today my worst fear was realized.

When we moved into a house that had stairs, I knew it would be only a matter of time before Ava had some sort of tumble.  Even while looking for houses, Ava managed to fall down a couple steps.  Within one week of living in our new home, the tumble happened.  I didn’t see it, I only heard it; a couple thumps and then a cry.  I ran to the stairs to find her laying on her back, crying.  Thankfully she was ok.   I figured that it would only take once and she would learn her lesson to be more careful.  Falling down stairs has to hurt!  After that first fall, I tried to keep a closer eye on Ava to make sure she wasn’t trying to attempt the stairs on her own.  Every once in a while I would find Ava standing at the top of the stairs (having climbed up them without my knowing) and my stomach would fly to my throat.  What if she fell?  I couldn’t even manage the thought.  Actually, I could and it made me want to throw up.

We talked about getting gates, but couldn’t ever find the one we wanted.  Maybe it was better to just teach Ava how to safely navigate the stairs anyway.

Today my worst fear was realized.

This morning I found Ava standing at the top of the stairs… again.  I had come out of the bedroom to find her standing facing the hallway with her back to the stairs and in an instant, that familiar panic struck my stomach.  “Ava, come here.” I said as calmly as possible.  I didn’t want to startle her, she was so close to the edge.  “NO!” was her defiant reply as she began to back up.  “Ava, STOP!” Disaster was only one second away.  I couldn’t lunge for her fast enough.  And in an instant, my worst fear was realized.  I watched helplessly as my baby fell down an entire flight of stairs, bouncing like a rag doll and landing at the bottom in a little heap with a thud.  Jeff said my scream was even worse than hearing the fall itself.

“Oh God, Oh God, please, please, please, let her be ok.” My heart was crying out, but there is also a sense of reality with things like this.  The stairs are so steep and narrow, wooden and hard; the fall was so far, how could she not be hurt?  It was only a matter of how badly in my mind.  There is a moment when time stands still and you have no idea in what direction fate will take you.  The sound of my baby’s wail brought some relief to my heart as it ment she was still conscious.  Jeff was quick to scoop Ava up and begin to inspect her.  Within a matter of minutes, Ava’s tears were gone.  I figured she didn’t have head trama when she started asking constantly, “Wat dis?  Wat dis?”

I, on the other hand, was a wreck.  I told Jeff I had to go upstairs and once there I lost it.  I had witnessed my worst possible fear unfold in front of my eyes and it was every bit as terrible as I had imagined it would be.  And I had been helpless to stop it.  I wasn’t fast enough, I wasn’t there to keep it from happening, I hadn’t been able to protect my child from harm.  As I knelt next to our bed sobbing, my helplessness was so apparent that it was heart wrenching.  Yet the Lord had protected Ava.  She had no broken bones, no bruises, not even a bump on the head, let alone head trauma.  There was a small whisper to my heart that I needed to realize only Jesus was able to be her true protector.  It was only by His grace and sovereignty that something terrible didn’t happen to Ava.  And He was asking me to place her in His hand, permanently.

I knew what the Lord was asking of me concerning Ava, to let go of her and place her in his care, but as a mother, this is easier said than done.  Interesting isn’t it?  Why is it so hard to trust the one who created her in the first place?  The one who holds all power in His hands?  The one who knows the plans He has for her.   He promises that they are plans full of hope and a future, so why is it so hard to trust?  Because in this life we will have trouble, bad things happen to good people, tragedy is not reserved only for someone else.

Within a couple hours, I was at Target buying gates.  I didn’t care the cost or design, I wanted security.  And all the while, I knew that the reality was that while the gates would be a prudent thing, they would not provide what I was ultimately trying to attain… safety for my baby.    Ultimately, no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to protect Ava from every harm that comes her way.  Does that mean I leave the door open for disaster?  No.  But can I be the one providing ultimate protection?  No.  I have to give her over to Jesus.  I really have no other choice.  And deep down, I don’t want any other choice.  I have chosen to place my life in the hands of Jesus, I’m learning now to place my child’s life in his hands too.

As I write this, it’s two days later, Sunday.  Over the last couple days, I’ve dealt with feelings of guilt and fear.  Guilt that I wasn’t watching more closely, that I should have been more attentive.  Fear that something really is wrong with Ava and the affects won’t be evident until later.  But my heart has been steadied and I know that what the future holds is not up to me.  I can only trust.  Parenting requires a whole new level of trust.