In the big world of wounds, a tiny laceration of thin skin breaks my heart. I had come for two weeks to help my daughter and son-in-law get through the waking agonies of a baby in teething torment. When a person is sleep deprived reality gets warped and minor scenes such as the pile of dishes akimbo in the sink or the laundry’s soft but menacing hill become unconquerable mountains. So, we three, the baby’s mama, daddy and grammy, triple-teamed and walked, rocked, cuddled, soothed, washed, straightened, folded, slept a little and tried to find the balance of sanity. How we long for his teeth to cut through the skin of his upper gums where four teeth hover shyly, their faces pressed against the translucent glass! (When I contemplate teething babies who suffer like this, I question the existence of God.)
Just before I left them to return to the farm, work and routines, James was cruising toward his daddy’s Macbook, so I quickly shut it. The timing was synchronized with his sudden reach. The closing laptop pinched the tiny middle finger of his right hand. Then it began to bleed, he wailed and we blubbered (mama and I) while we raced and washed and examined it for depth and seriousness (quick spurts of energy from nowhere!), while she nursed him, and daddy helped me prepare a Band-aid (his first!) — the very skin I wish to be permeable so that I might get inside and love him more completely than I do. But not like this. The blood that flows between us must be kept hidden in its treasure box, in the magic passages where a flying carpet would be humdrum.
There can be no thing that possibly comes close in worth to that thin translucent finger the size of a worm in its ill-fitting bandage. He sucked on it, seeming to understand this.
There will be lacerations. They are openings to the next tiny death swimming toward us, and to all the big ones.