Tyler and I were having so much fun on the Alpine Slide. We’ve ridden together every summer since he was three, or maybe two, and we love it. We make a great pair.
One year, he shouted, as we raced down the mountain, “Mommmmmyyyyyyy! Be careful with me!” As if, for all of my days, I can imagine doing anything else.
This time, at age six, he was in charge of the brake. (That was my mistake, and the place where I accept fault for the situation that ensued.) The first time, we sailed down the mountain with the wind in our hair and the wheels on the track. It was glorious freedom.
The second time, we were having so much fun – just so very much fun – until suddenly we weren’t.
The track veered to the left, the cart banked up on the right, we fell off, and our knees and elbows took the heat for several feet until we were ejected from the track.
(“Did you scream?” No, because my most vivid memory is my view of Tyler’s head smashed into the side of the track. I was fully mom in that moment, and very honestly, nothing on me hurt. Yet.)
We were halfway down the mountain when we crashed, so our choices were to get back on the slide and coast to the bottom (with the knowledge of riders barrelling quickly behind us), or to traipse our tattered selves down the half-mile, dragging the sled behind us.
We rode down. Slower this time.
When we got to the bottom, Tyler had his eyes on Tucker’s track, ironically the faster one than ours. Tuck was riding on his own, and he would arrive at any moment. As he slid into the safety zone, Tyler was right there to tell him, “We crashed, Tuck.”
And it was only then that Tyler started to cry, after he had told his brother. There’s something deeply beautiful about that to me, though I can’t name exactly what it is. But it is compassion and courage and love and concern, under the umbrella of brothers.
Now that all my babies were with me, I asked for help. “Please, help us. We’re a little … we crashed.” They took us to the first aid clinic on site, a legitimate medical station with six gurneys and lots of things that will sterilize, disinfect, and bandage.
Tyler was super brave while the nurse cleaned his scrapes.
And then it was my turn. I think I was brave, too. But my brave called for an oxygen mask and glasses of water and “Ma’am, please lie down.”
My elbow is peeled like an apple, my friends. We’re talking big white patch of sadness. There were shards of fiberglass from the slide embedded in me. But all of that paled to my awareness that my children were in the room, I was both mother and patient, there was no other adult they belonged to, we were at the top of the mountain, and we were a gondola ride and two hours from home.
Two camp counselors came to take the boys to the Bounce House so I could be effectively treated. The wound was superficial, but the panic was mounting. The nurse said, “I think there’s something else going on here. This isn’t about the scrape.”
You are right. Here’s my phone. Call someone on the starred list. They speak for me in moments like this.
Robb’s family was the closest on the scene at their mountain home. As I have always known they would, Craig and Jay came to our rescue, and Robb’s dad looked so much like his son at my bedside that I can’t really tell you about that right now.
We made it home with the help of Robb’s family and mine.
It has been two days and both of us are okay. Tyler is striped with Band-Aid residue, and if I had the stamina, I’d have him soaking in the bath tub to take care of that mess.
I’ve been to the doctor, where they unwrapped, cleaned, rewrapped, and topped me off with a Tetanus shot for good measure. I’m a little worked over.
We are learning the common factors of fault and accident. Tyler said, “Mommy, I know your bandage is bigger, but I think my pain is worse.”
Let’s not compare, kiddo. Let’s just get through this.