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March 12, 2017

Family Room by Michelle Martin

A stitch in time

It only takes a second.

It takes a moment after dinner, while I’m doing the dishes and making popcorn to watch a hockey game on TV with Teresa when I’m done.

It’s just a tick between the sound of something falling in the bathroom, then a “Mom! Help!” and then a more frantic “Mom! I’m bleeding!”

She was bleeding, blood dripping from her foot onto the floor, which was already smeared with green nail polish. The remains of the nail polish bottle were spread around her feet, and she was too panicked to even cry.

Within about 15 minutes we were on our way to the hospital, after wiping away the blood long enough to see the gash. That process — wiping the blood away, looking for glass stuck in her foot and applying pressure to stem the flow — was enough to make her cry, until I pointed out that when she cried, she bled more.

Because Teresa and I were the only ones home when it happened, she had to help take care of herself, mostly by keeping pressure on the cut while I found her shoes and socks and coat, put my own shoes on, opened the doors and carried her to the car. She kept pressure on it while I went back to close and lock the door, while we drove to the hospital, while I carried her in.

Once again, I felt so very fortunate that I didn’t have to worry about whether we could afford medical attention, or even a ride to the hospital. In the grand scheme of things, a cut an inch long is a small thing, but if it’s not properly cared for, it can turn into a big problem.

One X-ray (looking for any stray shards of glass), two hours and three stitches later, Teresa was able to walk to the car, go home and even catch the end of the hockey game we’d been planning to watch.

In the end, this will likely turn out to be a minor blip in her life. It was something painful and scary, but it will have no great consequence. Well, except maybe she’ll freeze before moving her feet the next time she encounters broken glass while not wearing shoes.

The Bible speaks repeatedly of God “binding up the wounds” of his people, of the importance of care and healing rather than letting a wound fester. While it only takes a second for disaster to strike — in the form of a natural disaster, a car crash or even a cut foot — it takes far longer for damage to heal, and that goes for emotional and spiritual damage as well as physical wounds.

In the days after getting stitches, Teresa was far more fearful of pain, avoiding putting on shoes and even worrying about the logistics of taking a bath with her foot out of the water.

When she didn’t believe it wouldn’t hurt, I complained she had no faith in me. She smiled, kissed my face, and said, “But I love you anyway.” And then conceded to taking a bath.