As I sat in training last week, I tried my hardest to distract the class from the annoying vibration coming from my phone. I thought for sure the caller would get the picture. They didn't and my phone continued to rattle on the table for 3 minutes straight. Finally, I answered.
On the other end I could hear a voice. Not quite shaken, not quite calm. I immediately went into panic mode and my heart begin to race.
"Mariah got bit."
Okay, I can handle that.
"She was bit by a Pitbull. We're at the hospital now. She is going into surgery in a bit, so we'll keep you updated."
Without hesitation, the questions begin to pour from my mouth.
"Is she okay?"
"How bad is it?"
"How did this happen?"
"How are you doing?"
"How long have you been at the hospital?"
"Is she okay?" "Is she okay?" ..."Is she okay?"
The rest is kind of blurry.
I remember leaving my job's headquarters and driving with a blank stare. The radio was on, but I didn't hear a word. The sun was beaming, but I felt cold. The light turned green, but I sat there...until someone blew the horn.
I was more than an hour away from the hospital, there was not much I could do. Rush hour was at a peak, and I had to make it home to take Kaden to soccer practice. My hopes of making it before the 8:00 PM deadline were cut short. I would have to be updated through text messages, shortened phone conversations, and pictures.
These are the pictures that made it through (some are a bit graphic):
She is one tough cookie. I shudder at the thought of having my face stitched. She is brave, and I aspire to be like her.
Upon visiting Mariah at home, I faced a bit of reluctance. As I stood at the front door of her house, I could hear her adorable voice shouting, "It's Kea! It's Kea!" I was excited and scared at the same time. I did not know how she would look, but I did not want to make her feel uncomfortable either.
The door opened. And there she was, all decked in a Dora the Explorer costume/pajama get-up. It was like Christmas had come early. Toys and balloons were strewn everywhere as acknowledgment for her 'job well done' before, during, and after this horrific experience. It didn't help that I added to the mayhem by bringing a bag of goodies for her. She deserved it all...if not more. (Sidenote: Even toy purchases are affected by this tragedy. I picked-up an adorable stuffed animal for her. It was a dog. Not a good idea.)
I hugged her. I tried kissing her, but it was awkward finding a spot on her cheeks that would seem comfortable, to both her and I. I was amazed by her spirit. The same, ole Mariah - big smile, high energy, and lots of love. My heart fell back into its place. I could breathe easily.
Minutes before leaving, I was able to capture her in action. I could not get over how 'normal' she acted. I think I was in more distress than she was. I was for sure she would fall and hurt herself again. I was on edge. I feel it's important to talk about what happened to her. I want her to be able to communicate her feelings. Take a look at her in action:
I'm sure everyone has an opinion on this situation. I still don't know what to make of it all. The one thing that sticks out in my mind is how courageous children are. Mariah was physically attacked by an animal that is known as man's best friend (maybe not this particular breed). Her face is scarred forever. And while we always want to teach children that "beauty is only skin-deep", it is obvious that her face has been altered. Her (real) mom told me that the first time Mariah saw her face she said, "Mommy, take this thing off my face." My heart sank.
No one will ever know how she will recover from this accident. She may have bounced back to her child-like antics, but what happens when the nightmares begin, she sees a dog, or someone asks her about her face? No one has the answers, but I will do all I can to be right there for her when she is faced with any of these situations.
Thanks to everyone for their prayers and kind thoughts. Your efforts do not go unnoticed.