Our lives are charged with moments of catastrophe, and so my sister rushed to her sons’ bedroom at the sound of wailing.
And there they are, two little boys, Jacob with his face scrunched in agony, and tears and a nub of his finger on the floor near the closet where his brother has just slammed the door on it, the older one, age four, eyes widened by the laws of cause and effect.
Dots of blood all over the floor and Jacob’s arms reaching out to his mother, but no, she has gone to get the ice and cloth to stop the blood.
After she hurls Jacob into the car, almost slams the door on Jordon’s hand, she returns to the closet, picks among the Legos, Lone Ranger, and sock to find the nub of finger, and puts it in a snack-sized Ziploc bag with an ice cube. Later, when she hands it to the doctor, he says, “What’s that for?”
The spell is broken. She can see with ordinary eyes. How can a doctor stitch through a nub smaller than the tip of a pencil?
But in these charged moments, our hearts are electrified. Consider Mrs. Kennedy, thrown into tumult, when her husband’s brains were splattered on the trunk of the car. While a secret service man jumped on Lyndon Johnson to protect him in the car behind, Mrs. Kennedy crawled onto the trunk, snipers peering at her through cross hairs, to retrieve a scrap of brain. Four miles later, she handed it to the surgeon at the hospital.
These are acts of love electrified by catastrophe. We sizzle and have a vision that others, uncharged, can only stand outside of and wonder. And the vision is this: when we deliver the nub of our child’s finger or the brains of our husband, we offer up what is oh, so vital to this world.