It’s a sound no parent wants to hear: the thunk of a five-year-old forehead hitting wood. My son was taking a running leap into the lower bunk, misjudged the amount of space, and made brief but powerful contact with the edge of the top bunk.
There was a lot of screaming, a deep gash, gushing blood, and a sibling who was practically hysterical about what he thought was his brother’s imminent demise. My husband applied pressure to the wound while I called 911 for advice, simultaneously trying to reassure my other son and tamp down my own panic and fear.
These are the worst moments of parenthood, the moments when your child is hurting and you feel essentially helpless. You don’t know how bad it is, but you fear the worst—concussion, brain damage, bleeding that won’t stop. As you say soothing, confident words to your children, you are desperately trying to believe those words yourself.
And yet God was present that awful evening, in many different ways. God was there in the gentle firefighter who knelt down in front of my wounded boy, checked him out, and engaged him in friendly conversation. God was there in the other firefighter who stood back with a clipboard and chatted easily with my other son, distracting him from his fear and making him feel like he had found a new best friend.
God was in the skill of the ER doctors who put stitches in my son’s forehead, making the whole process so easy that my boy left the hospital saying, “That was fun!” God was in the kind, motherly neighbor across the street, who saw the fire truck and came over to make sure we were all okay. “I think I need a hug,” I told her shakily, and she gave me one. God was in the friends who helped me process the events of the evening and even helped me laugh at it all (“Chicks dig scars,” said one of them).
So now when I look at the pink and white line on my son’s sweet forehead, I remember a few things. I remember the terrifying thwack and the blood and the brother’s hysterics and my own primal, visceral fear. But I also remember that God was there, wearing many different faces, reminding me of the power of love and community when we need it most.