Are you still coming out to my house tonight?” Ally asked
“Sure! We will be there in about an hour for dinner.” I promised. We had decided to get our families together and have pizza, while Jon helped clean their carpets.
I looked across the expansive lawn, toward my cousin Ally. Our grandma’s house on the ranch had been our stomping ground of our formative years. It sat on the top of the hills in Bountiful, complete with a dusty barn, and serene friendly horses that meandered in the corral. I remember one of my favorites, Sheeba. Even her name took my imagination places you would see pictured in a story book. She was a beautiful pure white horse, that any girl would love to call her own. Sheeba was a parade gal in her younger days, and now she spent her time living at Grandma Janes.
But even more than Sheeba, my favorite was Sunny. Sunny and Robbie were two paint horses that were like brothers. Robbie was a brown paint with white spots, (who we decided was Ally’s) and Sunny was a white paint with brown spots, (who was “mine”). The thing that stood out the most, were Sunny’s eyes. He had one green, and one brown eye. It sometimes felt like I was dealing with two different personalities as I gazed onto each side of his face. We were buddies. We rode together over mountains, through trees and hidden places. We didn’t need to talk, we just were comfortable together.
As I yelled my promise of a visit to Ally from my car, I felt sick. I wasn’t sure if a bug was coming on, or if my stomach was just uneasy for some reason – but something was wrong. “I’m not feeling that well, but I still plan on coming out. Maybe I’m just hungry.” I wanted to cancel, but I felt bad. One can only ditch on plans so many times before it is just awkward. But still, the nagging feeling in my stomach and the dripping sweat wouldn’t go away. It felt hollow, uneasy. It didn’t make sense to me, and I continued pushing away the reoccurring thought ….”Don’t Go.”
We watched the kids play at Grandma’s house for a while, as my mind took a trip into the past. Now my kids were running through the wild flowers, picking bouquets and neatly tucking them in blond curls behind their ears, just as I had once done. Each took a turn climbing in my Grandpa’s hand made steel rocket ship contraption, that had hung there for a lifetime. Heaven forbid anyone ran in front of those four bomb looking machines, held by metal chains and powered by a motor that propelled it around and around in circles. Two kids could sit in each one, and it was a blast – unless the bees had built there hives in them that year.
The other main attraction was the riding lawn mower. My dad drove around for hours mowing, and we took advantage of the chance to ride in the trailer that it pulled. We bounced and giggled in the back, while dad bounced and giggled in the drivers seat taking large circles, around the homestead. Down from the barn on the hill, around the round about with cactus planted inside, brought from my Grandma’s condo in Mexico, up to the house, around the back side that looked over all of Salt Lake City where we used to let off fireworks, past the hot tub and up again. Our noses were filled with the smell of freshly cut grass, and tickled as it flew around our faces. I don’t think we ever made a trip to Grandma Janes without my brother Dave suffering from some kind of allergy.
As I stared at the yard, now yellowed and sparse since my Grandma’s passing – I wondered how long I would be able to share this piece of heaven with my children. There was already talk of selling. The lump rose in my throat again, like a monster waiting inside to climb it’s ways out my eyes in liquid form. Wasn’t this land ours? Don’t you become one with dirt when you spend so much time with it? It had been tilled and taken care of by my mom and her family for a generation, and her grandparents before her…. back until the first settlers, the Mormon pioneers. My mom picked part of the ranch to build her home on when she was married. It was lovingly deemed “The Picnic Spot”, because it is where they always rode their horses for a picnic. It had a stream, and large maple trees scattered down through a gully in the canyon. The picnic spot was my home, my childhood haven.
I was jerked back into reality when one of my children called my name, a sound I hear countless times a day, and easily ignore. “Mama, are we going to Ally’s house still?” so I began ushering in the littles, deciding it was time to go. My head was full of memories, and my stomach was full of foreboding. We pulled out of Grandmas, through the enormous pines that my mom used to drag a hose around a water as a child, and off the hill to the the freeway. A moment I wished I could take back ever.
I often ask myself why I didn’t listen. Knowing now, that those feelings were a clear physical warning of danger; a feeling I will try to never set aside again.
I felt nostalgic as I descended off the hills of my childhood, once again. I remember the night before I moved out of my house, at the end of summer before college started. Somehow, I knew I would never be back home, not in the same way at least. I walked upstairs to my parents bedroom to say good night for the last time. They asked me how I felt, and I teared up. I explained my excitement for my new adventure, and my fears. But deep down my real feelings were for the end of the first phase of my life, and knowingly moving onto the second. I was only seventeen years old, because I was young for my grade – an age that now I know is still a child. I felt much older and mature, a thought that makes me laugh now.
Fast forward eight years from that night, and I was sitting in the front of a fire engine red Suburban, with my step daughter Syd, my niece Shauntyl, Kinley, Whitney, and tiny baby Brighton in the back. That’s right, five kids in five years of marriage because of our situation. I was 25 years old.
On our way to Ally’s house, the kids chatted in the back – and Brighton, our baby at the time was snuggled up in her car seat, no doubt ready for her next meal. We were on a time crunch though, and I knew we needed to get there soon. When we finally arrived, we pulled up in front of her darling house, and went inside to say hi.
“Ok Ally, how are we going to do this? We have all these kids, and they will just be in the way as Jon and Mike clean the carpets.”
She pointed to the motor home sitting in front of her house on the road. “Why don’t we just hang out in there until they are done?” she offered.
It was a great idea! They kids were excited about the adventure, and they all hurried inside to find their favorite spot. “I get this chair!” yelled Kinely. “I get the couch!” yelled another. We were proud of ourselves for creating such an adventure, right in their front yard. We sat down right in the mist of them all, and I began to nurse Brighton. She had waited long enough to be fed and was getting fussy.
There was a TV set up in the motor home, that sat up on top of the bed above the drivers seats. It was one of those big televisions that used to be the size of a box, not the flat screens we have now. It was playing “101 Dalmatians – 2” for us, a welcome distraction so the mommies could catch up on life. Kinley jumped up and said, “Now I want to sit over there!” and ran across the motor home to the back bed that looked so inviting, and Whitney slide into the swivel chair with a big grin on her face.
I missed Ally. We have memories that go back as far as we can remember – and it was so fun to dig in and laugh at years gone by. We played at Grandma Janes as kids, I stayed over at her house when we were little, we went on trips to Lake Powell – Flaming George – Jackson Hole. We ended up in High School together, dancing at the stomps and dressing up in camo for fun on weekends to spy on people. It was also Ally the moved down to college with me. I actually went to UVCC because she was going there, because we would be roommates. Funny how that one decision decided my entire life.
At some point in our catching up conversation, nursing, glancing at the kids, and the TV – it happened. Without a cause, that enormous TV tilted and fell five feet from it’s resting place – and hit my three year old Whitney, on the face. She was sitting right below it on the chair, and she didn’t have a chance to move because it happened so fast. I screamed as terror racked through my body and soul. I set baby Brighton down on the couch beside me. I dove for my Whitney, as the television laid below her feet. It had rolled off from the impact and the angle of her body in the chair.
My Whitney was screaming. I was in shock. My world stopped, and I felt as though I was spinning out of control. I scooped her up into my shaking arms, and looked into her tiny face. It was covered in blood, and her nose was split open from the center of the bridge, all the way through her top lip. I was nauseous, and held her close. I stumbled out of the motor home, holding her in my arms with my hand over her face trying to hold down the bleeding, and screamed…
Even over the loud carpet cleaning machines, he heard me. It was the sound of a frantic mother. A sound I have never since heard coming out of my mouth. It was almost guttural – a call from my soul. Everything was a blur, and I feared from my Noo Noo’s life. I couldn’t lose her… Jon ran out of the house with a terrified look on his face and yelled, “WHAT HAPPENED!!?” I started explaining and crying all at the same time as we ran for our car. Jon opened that door to the back seat of the car, and I climbed in to sit, clinging to Whitney. This was one time I was grateful that Jon is a skilled, fast driver. He only slowed at the stop lights to check for safety, and then drove through. As we traveled, I explained through sobs what had happened. How the TV was pushed way back on top of the bed and nothing at all bumped it or pulled the cord. How maybe it was just front heavy, and caused it to roll off.
“It’s okay Whitney. It will be okay…” I tried to console her, even though my heart felt like her face looked, broken beyond repair. She cried in my arms, the sound was gut wrenching. She was in pain, and I was helpless.
We pulled up in front of Davis Hospital in about eight minutes, and got out of the car. We walked straight into the emergency room and asked for help. The nurses saw Whitney, and rushed us into the doctors office. I began filling out paperwork with my shaking hand, as the nurses tried to console Whitney. It wasn’t working. She wanted mom.
They explained to me that they would need to take x-rays of her skull to make sure there wasn’t any brain damage, before they could do anything to fix her face. This seemed fair enough, but I had no idea what that would entail. First of all, Whitney was inconsolable and terrified as they tried to check her vital signs. “Mrs. Moss, did Whitney pass out when the TV hit her face?” he asked. “ummm, no – I don’t think so – no.” I stammered. “Ok, well that is at least a good thing.”
Whitney’s face was swelling as we spoke. It became so large around her blueberry colored eyes, and her tiny freckles. My baby was unrecognizable. Part of me wanted to run away from all the bright lights and people, and just rock with her on our chair at home…but I couldn’t. We were stuck in a reality I couldn’t alter.
“Mrs. Moss, maybe if you leave the room, Whitney will calm down so we can get some x-rays taken.” I knew this idea wouldn’t go over well, but I was determined to try anything to get her checked out. I left. Whitney’s screams became louder and louder. After about thirty minutes, they gave up and had me come back in. “Mrs. Moss, we are going to give her some medicine that will help her calm down so we can take the x-rays.” I agreed, and watched helplessly. The shot needle came out, and all hope of any calming was out of the question. The medicine wasn’t working. We decided to try to take the pictures anyway, but after several failed attempts – they gave up because she wouldn’t hold still. They came over with another shot, and gave her a second dose. She calmed a bit, but started hallucinating.
“MOM…” “MOM….” she called to me across the room. They decided to put an xray apron over me, so maybe they could get the pictures. I walked over and held her tiny hand. “Mommies here. You will be ok.” trying to comfort her, as Jon had been trying to comfort me minutes earlier. “MOM…” her laughter began…”MOOOOOMMMMMMMM….. YOU HAVE TWO NOSES!!!” I glanced at Jon with huge eyes, silently searching for some help. “MOOOOMMMMM…!!!!!” Her laughter turned into screams.
We were done. We were getting no answers. After lots of tries, we finally got enough still shots for the doctor to asses that her brain hadn’t been damaged, which was an enormous relief. I was weak, tired, and helpless. They told us that they needed to stitch up her face, as Whitney continued to scream. So many hours of her screaming had run us all ragged. We wanted to help her, but there was nothing we could do. Jon, being the problem solver that he is, pipped up and said,
“We are going to Primary Children’s Medical Center. I want her face stitched up by an expert.” I think they were shocked, but as I look back, I am grateful for Jon making this decision. I was too worn out to think straight. Jon went and got the car, picked us up and drove like a bat out of Hell to the world renowned hospital, Primary Children’s Medical Center, in Salt Lake City, Utah. When we rushed in, they were shocked that the other hospital hadn’t insisted on us taking the ambulance. We explained that they weren’t very good at anything they did, and they just nodded their heads.
At this point, our luck changed. They sweet nurses brought Whitney over a stuffed animal, and we could hear soothing music playing in the background. As we checked in, there were Disney videos playing and sweet speaking people, calming helping us get settled. They were quick, and efficient as well. We were taken into a surgical room, and assured that one of the best surgeons in the country would be piecing Whitney’s face back together.
You can imagine my shock and pleasure, as a darling young Japanese woman came in and introduced herself. She proceeded to tell us what steps she would take, and offered us some chairs to watch if we wanted to stay. She quickly gave Whitney a shot that make her fall asleep as I held her hand. Then she draped a large paperweight cloth over her entire body, with a hole cut out laying right over her nose and mouth.
I watched as she rolled up a small chair, sat down and threaded the needle accurately the first time. Obviously something she had done time and time again with precision. She slid up, legs apart as to get really close to the bed – and began stitching, like her skin was a patchwork quilt. Jon was immediately intrigued, and I was feeling like I was going to lose my lunch. “I’ll just step outside…” I muttered, and shuffled into the hall. I watched through the rectangular window every so often when I felt bold.
I couldn’t believe how fast it was all over. My emotions were raw. We had been up all night long, and it was close to sun up. My family visited, and gave her a blessing of quick recovery. I felt so grateful that I hadn’t lost my child. I felt humbled from my lack of response to my promptings to stay home. People often ask me how I hear answers, or why I am so in tune. I would mark this event as a turning toward listening to the spirit. I have since made course corrections when I feel uneasy, even if I think the thought might be coming from myself. It’s just safer that way. I thank my Heavenly Father for my children, each one. They are all a blessing. My heart beats outside of my body, in each of them.
They are my light, and my life.
These were taken about a week after the accident, the best picture I could find. All of our old pictures were taken on disposable cameras, nothing close to the pictures now.
Later that summer. Now you can barely see a faint line if you look close at Whitney’s face. It’s amazing the recovery she made.
I thought just for fun, I would share some pictures I took of her a few days ago so you can see her as a 15 year old. She actually looks almost identical to me at this age, other than I had way bigger bangs, permed hair, not quite so beautifully full lips, and blue eye shadow.
I didn’t know that Melissa was going to write about one of her very hard experiences yesterday. I think after reading hers and thinking of mine, I feel pretty blessed to have my kids. Life is a beautiful ride. Always bumpy, many turns in the road, very scenic, unpredictable, and always worth it.