On Friday, Ada had surgery for the cyst in her neck. The surgery itself went very well, we were literally out of there a mere hour after the procedure, and Ada was so incredibly good it was almost heart-breaking. Like when they put her under, and she thought it was a game, looking at me excitedly over the gas mask as she tried to “blow up the balloon”—until she passed out, lowered gingerly onto the table by the CRNA student.
They told me I could kiss her and then somehow, I had to summon the strength to turn my back and walk away from my baby lying alone and unconscious on a surgery table. Trust her life in virtually the hands of strangers.
That was the hardest moment of my life.
I cried while kissing her, cried as I shrugged off my surgery scrubs, cried as the nurse walked me back to the surgical waiting room where Ben sat. I finally understood the scene so often described in book, the main character waiting at a hospital, too upset to even think about eating. Food lover that I am, I had always scoffed at the thought that I would ever be too worried to eat. I get it now.
When the surgeon and his assistant strode into the room, surgical masks dangling from their wrists, Ben and I felt like a scene out of a bad medical drama as we stood up anxiously, relief washing over us as he assured us that “everything went well.” We shook their hands and sat down to do some more waiting, this time giddy with happiness, joking about everything from the vending machine to Ben hitting on the eighty-year old room attendant.
After some time in post-op and recovery, Ada was finally free to go home. I made sure to shower her with presents and goodies, making sure she knew how well she did and how so proud we were that she was so brave. She got a new movie to watch, a sticker book (that I ended up thoroughly enjoying), a purple Etch-a-Sketch (her favorite color), a dry-erase board (this turned out to be the favorite. Go figure), and there may have been a bag of M&M’s or two in there as well.
And then, while we were discussing her stitches, came the second hardest moment of my life.
Ada touched her steri-strips, and then cupped my face with her tiny hands, looking earnestly at me.
“Does God make ouchies?” she asked.
I was flabbergasted. Literally. I didn’t know what to say. First of all, we hadn’t really discussed God in relation to her surgery, like at all, so where the thought came from, I have no idea. We are just beginning discussions about God with her, so it’s not an everyday thing that she talks about. Secondly, what a question—so simple and so profound all at the same time, and all from my three-year-old baby girl who sat looking at me with stitches in her neck.
“Well, no, God doesn’t make ouchies,” I replied, nervously glancing at my husband, who sat wide-eyed, waiting for my response.
“God makes rain!” Ada returned brightly. Crap, I thought. Again, with the simplest of thoughts, she had me. How does a God make rain, but not ouchies?
“Yes, you’re right, Ada. God does make rain, because rain is good and our plants and vegetables need it to grow,” I said, my mind flashing over to the tsunamis and hurricanes that have wreaked destruction and killed so many. Well shoot, she had me again. God makes rain, and sometimes, rain is good and sometimes, rain does make ouchies. How do I explain that? No, I decided, best not go there. I’ll just skip over that part.
“God doesn’t make ouchies, Ada,” I tried again, wishing desperately I knew the real, grown-up way to answer this question.
“Ouchies just happen,” I finished lamely, knowing how ridiculous that explanation sounded, even to my own twenty-five-year-old ears, and even more so to the simple wisdom of a three-year-old’s ears. I braced myself for her to call me out, offer up a scoffing “Yeah right, Mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Miraculously, my weak explanation seemed to suffice her. “Oh,” she said, nodding solemnly, her fingers unconsciously lighting upon her stitches again.
And then I had a thought, a lightbulb of sorts went off in my head, a way to bring the explanation back to the Big Guy.
“God doesn’t make ouchies,” I started. “But God gives us a way to fix the ouchies!” I said, ending my announcement proudly, as if it had solved everything.
Of course, by this time, Ada had lost interest, bouncing off my lap to go fight with her sister, who had snuck over to the M&M’s bag.
Meanwhile, I collapsed on the couch, mentally exhausted from our exchange and feeling wholly, woefully inadequate as a mother.
Does God make ouchies?
Who’s got the answer for that one?
Winner gets the last bag of M&M’s.