That Thing Called Brave

Lost Child

And so, the pins are out of Tucker’s foot.  We can officially say he is tougher than nails.  Because, oh my goodness, that was no small undertaking.

They had told us it wouldn’t hurt to take out the pins.  Bones don’t have nerve endings, so when you break a bone, it’s not the actual bone that hurts.  The surrounding parts are loaded with nerve endings – ligaments, tendons, soft tissue, muscles, all that goodness.  Those hurt when you mess with them. But bones don’t have feelings. 

So many people – doctors, nurses, and even fellow compadres from the trenches of orthopedic experience – told us that it would be no big deal.  A non-event. 

I don’t know why it didn’t go that way for us.

One pin came out easily.  One.  Out of five.  The others were so bad, just so very bad.  It was more like wrenching nails out of wood.  There were pliers involved and other things I’m not going to describe.  Tucker turned white, and the many people in the room were rushing juice and crackers to him, warding off the actual faint.  I think the fact that he was so close to losing it is what kept me on my feet.  One of us had to keep it together.

Tuck needed a break after each pin was extracted (and who on earth could blame him?) but the extra tech in the room got impatient and macho with my son.  Which was a great big unspeakable mistake.

“Don’t ask him if he’s ready, just do it!” he said.  “Look, he’s watching – don’t let him watch, just do it when he’s not looking.”  He grabbed a towel to keep Tucker from seeing his own foot, and he said, “There. Go.” 

And to my brave-brave-brave boy, he said, “Suck it up, man.  Just suck it up.”

There is an invisible line around a Momma Bear, and you might not know exactly where it is.  But you will most assuredly — sure as blazing fire and sulfur and a thousand regrets — know when you’ve crossed it.

He crossed it.

I whipped around and looked at him, pointing one finger into his broad chest.  I said, “You.  Are mean.”

“Ma’am, I am not mean.  I’ve been doing this for 34 years.  I am kind.”

I said, “You will show me that kindness right now, or you will leave.  Tucker gets to decide how this goes, if he wants to watch, and when he’s ready to move on.  And you, sir, will be kind.”

He actually took a step back.  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”

And then I gave Tuck my full attention.  On his go, and only then, Team Tucker finished the atrocious act before us. Four more times.

Tuck and I talked about this later.  I said, “Buddy, what did you think when he was telling you to suck it up and be brave?”

He said, “I think he doesn’t know what bravery is.”

My amazing boy.

“You are right, buddy.  You know who does know courage?  You do.  Let me tell you what’s brave: it’s getting that first pin taken out, and knowing how badly it was going to hurt, knowing you had four more, and choosing to move forward. 

Brave doesn’t mean you want to do it.  It doesn’t mean you’re not afraid.  It doesn’t even mean you don’t want to cry about it.  Brave means you choose to do the next thing you have to do, even if it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done.  You did that today. 

You are Brave.”

* * *

Later as we got in the car, I asked him for an update on the pain levels.  Do you know what he said?  “Oh, my foot is just a little sore on top.” 

Just a little sore.  Actual Home Depot tools and hardware were used with grit and might on my son’s body, and an hour later, he said, “It’s just a little sore on top.” 

He shows tolerance I’ll never know.  

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. Amazing. You go there, Mama Bear!

  2. Tucker rocks and I’ve never known a bigger and bravery mama bear!

  3. Thank you Tricia for sharing this event and the exact words you used. My mom, who is precious to me, was naive, quiet & passive. I did not have a model of strength as a mom. I will remember these words the next time I have to stand up for my child. You are so gracious to share them. Praying God’s blessing on your day!

  4. You had me crying starting at “there is an invisable line around a momma bear…” Way to go momma bear Tricia and brave boy Tuck!!!

  5. Tuck does know brave! You and your boys learned the meaning of that word such a while ago! Your writing and the way you tell us about how you and your boys move forward through the pain , I felt like I was in that room and experiencing your breaking heart for your brave boy. Please know prayers are being said that Jesus in His mercy and grace gives you both a heaping measure of His love! Thank you Trisha for sharing.

  6. I’m so proud of Tucker AND you! And you have both been so brave all summer… and for a lot longer than just this summer as well. Thank you for writing and continuing to write! Thank you for your definition of brave! I don’t have the writing skills to write so meaningfully. But that definition! I get that! That’s what we are doing at our house too! Without the daddy so loved and so needed, who is in Heaven instead and we just feel like we need him here with us more. But we are doing that thing you call “brave” instead and trying to trust God for the whys. Please, please keep writing. I have often thought of blogging about our journey without my husband, my children’s daddy. But I am not brave enough to handle the negative comments. Therefore, I only write it in a journal for me…for now. What you are doing by blogging for the rest of us is VERY brave! Even though my youngest son is a year or two older than Tucker, your experiences that you write about are so affirming and encouraging and helpful for us because we are experiencing very similar things in our house with such a big hole in our hearts. Thank you for being brave… both of you! ( actually all three of you)

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