Today, a village
May 28, 2016
Having moved half-way across the world a year ago and still in the phase of building up friendships and connections, it’s not unusual for me to feel lonely. Not lonely as in, alone because there is nobody around me, but lonely as in, without that safe feeling of having people within a reasonable proximity with whom you can feel safe with. Who help with mundane things. With whom you can feel a little vulnerable with.
There are many people who offer that in my life, but today, those known and comfortable people weren’t with me. Instead I was with work colleagues and their partners when our daughter fell off the hammock, and landed on a protruding lever on her back. I could immediately tell she was in pain and that her shouts were not just for show, from shock or surprise and anger. She was hurt. I rushed over and swept her up and moved to sit down on a chair when she literally screamed in pain.
I had managed to squash her toe under the chair as I sit down and put my full weight, and hers, down on her toe. I felt sick with guilt. Our daughter continued to shout in obvious agony. And my colleagues, sprang in to action. One fetched the ice-pack, the other fetched a pain relieving cream. My husband and I tried to offer an emotional balm, fending off the older daughter at the same time.
Eventually I carried our girl inside and laid her on the couch, she looked at me in obvious pain and told me that she was trying so hard to be brave. When I told her she didn’t have to be and that she could even say a bad word or two if she wanted, her face buckled and she sobbed. And when I saw her like that, my own heart broke a little bit.
I started to worry her toe was broken, more accurately that I had broken her toe. I started to suggest that maybe she needed a doctor, which just added to her distress. The thought of maybe missing the regional sports day tomorrow, just made her cry harder. Finally, I walked back out to the group of adults and looked around. “I don’t know what to do.” I said “I’ve never seen her like this. And tears welled up in my own eyes and my voice failed me.
One colleague, a mother herself to an young independent woman, calmly came to my daughters side and started gently examining the toe. With soft and light fingers, she had a close look, all the while speaking to our girl in a soft and kind voice. After a few minutes, she reassured us that the toe was likely just bruised and not broken. Relief flooded through me. This wonderful woman then proceeded to play our daughter a tune using only her head, her mouth and a spoon. It was a hit.
On the way home I felt exhausted as the adrenaline left my body. I felt like chastising myself for having been pretty useless at assessing the potential damage to the toe and I was just so grateful that this woman had stepped in and taken control with such a firm and calm manner.
I wanted to share this story because sometimes we feel estranged from the people around us and sometimes we feel that we have to face problems alone. That we live in faceless big cities and buildings and we grieve for community, for that village we were told is needed to raise our children.
Today I felt as if I really was in a village, the women clustering around with soothing hands, the men were supporting with reassuring observations, having seen more broken toes than I. It felt fine to be a bit emotionally vulnerable and I felt held.
The village is not all gone.
Ps – our child seems well on the road to recovery ☺️