It was a quiet Tuesday afternoon. My husband came home from work and we were endeavoring to have a bit of quiet and meaningful conversation while I prepared dinner for our family. I was working on spatchcocking a whole chicken on a roasting tray decorated with thinly sliced onions, sweet peppers and fresh garlic when suddenly I heard the door slam. Having difficulty discerning whether it was the raucous sound of laughter or the dreadful screams of pain, my suspicions were confirmed when my son came running up the stairs of our home holding a bloody forehead. When he removed his hand, to my horror, I saw a bloody, deep set gash in his forehead so deep, that if I did, I could reach my finger into the wound to touch his skull. My heart sank and the grief of my firstborn son being wounded took over. It was an accident. He had been hit by another child during play with a golf club.
The blood kept gushing as we tried to get gauze to stop the bleeding. I knew enough to not try to treat it with some sort of antiseptic and at the counsel of my husband, I applied pressure to keep him from bleeding out. It quickly became apparent that we were out of our depth and that he needed more care than we could provide for him in the moment. My spatchcocked chicken would have to wait. We bandaged him as best we could and got him downstairs. All along the steps and leading to the door outside, there was a trail of blood from when he first entered the house. My husband got in our car and drove him to urgent care where the wound was treated and then down to CHOP in Philly for further evaluation and sub dermal and exterior stitches from a pediatric plastic surgeon. The whole ordeal lasted way into the night and early morning as I had to remain home. Finally, they came home in the wee hours of the morning.
No concussion. I breathed a sigh of relief as I considered the day’s events. How could simple play outside turn into head trauma with stitches? What happened? What if he had a concussion and was lying on the ground and we didn’t know until it was too late? My heart pounded and my mind flooded with questions and worry as I thought about what it would feel like to lose my firstborn son.
And then my thoughts went to the many mothers who have suffered the grief of getting a sudden phone call or hearing that their child has been severely wounded. Mothers who lost their son or daughter in some foreign conflict while serving. A mother who hears that her child has been killed by police. For a moment, I felt something of the pain of waiting, the hours of not knowing what is going on as medical professionals do their best to stabilize an emergency. Thankfully, my son was cognizant when he left and showed no indication that he might lose consciousness. My husband graciously sent me pictures of them playing the board game “Guess who?” while they waited for the plastic surgeon as a way of reassuring me that all was well. “What if they find something else?”, my thoughts persisted, “What happens if they find that he really does have a concussion?”. I barely slept. For the sake of the other children at home, I tried to get some sleep to be of use to them if they woke in the middle of the night. I called friends and family, asking for prayers as I tried to stay encouraged and hopeful. I suppose the greatest grief of all for me was that I could not be there to hold his hand and assuage his fears as he received localized anesthesia via a needle and the process of enduring the literal stitching of his skin because the trauma had left him with a piece of his skin missing. Even as I write this, I thank God that it was not worse than it had already been. I just wanted my son to come home, hold him in my arms and tell him that I was there for him. My husband was there with him but as a mother in times of our child’s pain, I wanted to be there for him.
This experience is one I hope to never repeat again with any of my children. I think about how Mother Mary must have felt. In a much smaller and less significant way, I can feel her mother-grief as she watched her son’s body torn mercilessly. The flesh ripped off his body with devious intention. The crown of thorns pressed into his skull and the trail of blood left behind as He walked the Via Dolorosa all the way to Golgotha where she watched him suffer and take His last breath. I can’t even imagine it. Everything must have gone numb for her that day. Food was probably the furthest thing from her mind as she replayed the moments where she had to watch helplessly at the suffering of her firstborn Son.
The Bible has always fascinated me. It is the story of the upside-down kingdom. There is a verse in the book of 1 Peter 2:24 which says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
By His wounds? How is it that wounds can bring healing? The concept grips me even now that the Person, Jesus the Christ, laid down His life willingly. He volunteered to suffer and die for the sins you and I have committed while we were still far off from God. Mother Mary’s own soul was “pierced with a sword” but her grief does not even begin to compare to God the Father watching His Son suffer and die at the hands of people who were enjoying inflicting pain on His Son. And yet, somehow from those wounds, I and everyone who trusts in Jesus, are made whole. Where sin has mangled us, Jesus’ wounds make us well again.
Yes, by His wounds we are healed. Comfort arose for me from a supernatural place as I considered that Christ loved me while I was still ignorant and even resistant to Him. My son, as imperfect as he is, is still my son and a mother’s love does not disappear with time or circumstance. Our deep love for our children means we feel the pain along with them. We step into their pain and share the pain alongside them. Yes, even in my mother-grief, the comfort of Christ’s love for me helped me to know that I wasn’t alone. That my burden was shared, and my joy multiplied. And that, yes, even despite of our wounds, He can use them to bring healing.