Wednesday, August 25, 2010


A few weeks ago, Sam was working a twenty-four hour shift. I was sitting in the living room with Beezus. She had just woken up from a nap, so she had a cup-full of water and a cookie. I was doing the crossword on my handheld device and talking to my sister on the phone. Besides the noises from meddling kids on the television, the house felt still. Since Beezus was sitting in front on me, I could tell she hadn't moved, even though I was not quite focused on her. The air between us remained unchanged.  I looked up, as I was talking, and her face was covered with thick red blood. It was everywhere. In her hair. In her mouth. And she was still staring at the television.

It took me a moment to process the scene. It seemed so incongruous with what the second before had just been. I gasped, said something desperately awful to my sister and hung up the phone. "Did you fall, Beatrice?" And she was suddenly startled too. Her huge blue eyes were like saucers. I tried to temper my worst freak-out instincts. She gauged me gauging her. She stayed silent and unsure. I picked her up in my arms. My feet wanted to run back and forth and back and forth going no where in particular, but I ran to the bathroom repeating questions, "Did you move? Did you fall? Were you just sitting there?" Even though, I know damn well she was just sitting there.  It was all I could think--something fell on her, or she fell off of something. And all she could say, finally, was, "Mama, I think there is blood."

My daughter has never had a massive nosebleed, and being that she is my first child, that means I haven't seen one since elementary school when Danny Dolly punched himself in the nose to make my sister vomit in fifth grade. (She has always had a rather weak stomach for blood.) Beezus later sheepishly explained that she thinks that, uh, maybe, she was, perhaps, or might have been, you know, picking her nose, even though she is not supposed to pick her nose, but that perhaps she pulled a booger from it, and that it began, as she describes it "itchin'." Reconstructing the scene I was just part of, I can see her feeling the run of blood down her face, then rubbing her nose, and suddenly, it got everywhere, but for a second, it was like my worst nightmare. It is so disconcerting to lift my head, knowing damn well no one was moving, and seeing my daughter covered with blood.

It is funny the things you think to do in such a moment. I took a picture with my cell phone which was in my hand, so that I could send it to her father at the hospital. I wonder what I thought I would write: "What is going on with her?" Like that would have helped him solve the mystery of why his daughter was covered in blood.

This may be one of the biggest things that has happened to her. After she was cleaned up, I called my sister back. I didn't want to just forget that I left the conversation shrieking in a stage whisper, "BEA IS COVERED IN BLOOD." Click. Beatrice, on the other hand, had her own calling to do. Straight away, she went into the play kitchen picked up her play phone and called everyone she knew and told them. Connected to nothing, she wandered around the house with her little phone calling all her friends and relatives and telling her story, "Uh, hi, Uncle John, yeah, my nose was bleeding. Uh, huh. Yep. I'm fine, but I was scared."

This may seem like my story, because I have told it to you here. But it isn't. Not really. It is her story. One day, part of her story will be Lucy died and it made her mother crazy. Or perhaps she will say, "My sister Lucy died and it made my mother (fill in the blank)." Distant? Kind? Driven? Sad? But these stories are not mine. Not really. I am just borrowing them until they become hers.


  1. What a scare. I never had a nosebleed so it would freak me out no end. I'm glad she's OK and has her first story to tell others...

  2. This reminds me of a day last week when I wasn't wearing my glasses and forgot that Millie had been eating a piece of cake with red icing. Not as traumatic as actual blood but, holy crap, I almost dropped over seeing her little hands just covered in red.

    Glad to hear Bea (and you) are ok.

  3. Those stories.

    I keep thinking that my 4 beautiful, far too old for it to have passed them by in any shape or form, daughters will begin their child bearing from the minute they choose to try and conceive to the minute their baby makes it safely into the room, thinking "my baby brother died. No one could stop it from happening."

    It breaks me.

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  5. I've had nosebleeds as an adult (woke up to one in the middle of the night most recently) and it feels exactly like itching.

    How scary! But I love that she called everyone she knew on her phone to tell them about it.

  6. Oh that must have been terrifying. Poor little Bea. I'm so glad she's fine. It's very sweet that she decided to 'phone' everyone and tell the tale of the nose bleed.

    I often wonder how Jessica will fill in that gap. All of this made my mother . . . I'm hoping for kind? But I really don't know which word will fill that hole. x

  7. Oh how scary - poor Bea. I'm glad she's okay and loved the image of her on the phone afterwards.

    Perhaps she'll say, "My sister, Lucy, died and my mother survived and kept on living and loving even though it was hard sometimes."

  8. Wow, that's really scary.

    I love how Bea needed to process by 'telling' her friends.

    And I don't know what all this grief has made me, but hopefully more appreciative is one of them.

  9. oh my goodness, you poor guys. it really makes me wonder how non-loss mamas face these situations and if we all react the same way or if there really is an extra freak out level for loss mamas.

    so great that she is able to do such good processing and to tell her story - just like her mama. xo

  10. I'm glad Bea is fine. I'm glad you are fine.

    I think of this, too, sometimes, about how so many of "my" stories of Dot are really her stories. Even though the stories will be colored by the death of her brother, I'm hoping to come off well as a member of her supporting cast when she gets around to telling them for herself.

  11. It is scary to see blood, esp on your children. It's a nightmare to me.

  12. Glad to hear she is fine. How scary in the moment though. I often wonder what D will say about me. He won't have known me any other way, but I wonder if years from now he will think I am "such and such" because of Hannah's death. And what a bitch for them to have to deal with us. I often feel as sorry for our living children as I do for our dead ones.


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