Of all the decisions we make, few are more difficult than determining what to hold on to and what to let go of. A family in a hospital room choosing to remove life support. The once-wronged deciding they can no longer hold on to the animosity they had for a particular group of people. Communities and coworkers letting go of the illusion that it will ever be as good as it once was, or seemed to be.
Letting go. Holding on.
A couple of weeks ago I took Sutton and Jude out to Poage park. They ran around like mad men for quite a while before realizing they had yet to eat their afternoon snack. I handed them each a package of those orange colored cheese crackers with peanut butter in the center and a small bottle of red Gatorade. We were at a park bench that sat upon a slab of concrete. I was hovering around the table with Jude, who wasn't eating and somehow using my attention. Sutton was sitting down, but on his knees. Something happened that he deemed necessary to jump up for. When he did, his balance was lost and, for me standing a few feet away, time froze. His body twisted in a weird direction and his head was on a collision course with a chunk of rocky cement.
I couldn't do anything, but in that moment a million thoughts raced through my head, the most prominent being, "Sutton, please let go of the bottle of Gatorade and crackers and brace yourself."
He didn't let go and he didn't brace himself.
On a head with dark colored hair, blood can hide in the shadows. On a snowy blond little boy in doesn't hide but creates a terrifying reminder that an accident has happened.
I've been around kids enough in my lifetime to know they usually aren't fragile china dolls, but actually quite sturdy. This didn't immediately register though, as I panicked. Luckily there was a nurse at the park with her kids who looked him over and said he'd be fine, he just may need to go to the hospital to get stitches. (Which he did later in the evening, but they were those "invisible" stitches."
The nurse calmed my nerves, allowing me to gain composure enough to round up the boys' stuff and head to the car. Sutton was still crying, but at this point had settled to a constant whimper. I looked down and saw something that I've been laughing on and off about ever since-- Blood trickling down his forehead mingling with dirt and tears, package of cheese crackers in his left hand and a bottle of red Gatorade in his right. His upper lip pressed hard against his teeth in a noble but futile effort to "be a big boy" and stop crying, only stopping for a fraction of a second to take a bite out of his snack.
Sometimes we just know in our gut when we should let go of something and when we should hold on to it. Sutton's instincts worked for him, so who am I to judge?