I sat alone in the hospital room. My daughter was in the operating room. It was the first time any of my children had to have surgery, and of course this would happen when my husband was deployed, and somewhere Murphy was lurking.
My extended family was far away. I didn’t want to ask friends to sit with me because COVID and the flu were hitting hard again, and I’d feel awful if they caught a virus from being at the hospital.
Instead, I found comfort that my other three children were being well taken care of while playing at our good friends’ house, and many other friends and family were praying and checking in on us.
So here I was, anxiously awaiting an update from the surgeon.
I felt bad for worrying so much.
For feeling overwhelmed by this, when it wasn’t a dire situation. But I couldn’t help feeling all the mom guilt. It was my idea to go to the park the day my daughter got injured. If only I would have left sooner instead of talking to my friend so long.
I knew that sparkly, small rock wasn’t a geode, but I let my daughter tinker and tap to try to break it open. Three times, I could have made a decision that would have prevented the incident from happening.
I would never have anticipated another child at the park, who we didn’t know, would join my daughter and her friends in their geode experiment, and choose to throw down a large, heavy rock on top of their little “geode” in hopes of breaking it open.
And that my sweet daughter’s finger would be in the way. In an instant, bones in the index finger of her dominant hand, were shattered into several pieces.
How I wish I could have protected her from that.
The surgeon came to speak with me. He was pleased, and his update was accompanied with, “It has a good chance.” The following weeks, we prayed hard the bones would grow and heal appropriately so my daughter wouldn’t lose her finger.
We had made it most of the year-long deployment without anything too difficult happening. A few vehicle issues, lots of annoying break-downs and repairs in our rental home, several viruses; all the typical, not-fun things that like to happen when a spouse is gone, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
Then, Murphy came calling.
Oh yes, Murphy’s Law of Deployment figured we needed a good dose of him.
In between the surgery to repair the broken bones, the surgery to remove the pins, extra doctor appointments for it all, and miscellaneous appointments for the other children, we tried to keep up with extra-curricular activities.
While at the children’s ninja class one evening, phone alarms sounded off a tornado warning. As staff quickly ushered students out of class towards shelter, I first ran to the childcare room to grab my youngest son, along with my daughter whose hand was still healing.
We made it to a bathroom where I found my friend (the same one who watched my children during surgery) and her children.
I shoved my two children toward her and ran off to find my other two. I had noticed they were both leaving class in different directions. I quickly grabbed my younger daughter coming out of the door closest to me and brought her to the bathroom with everyone else.
Though I knew my oldest son would be fine with his class taking shelter in a dance studio, I was not at peace being separated from any of my children while we possibly endured a tornado.
I dodged my way through the crowded hallway filled with parents and little ones still scrambling for shelter, reached the dance studio, and quickly scanned for my son.
When our eyes met, a relieved smile spread across his face.
As we rushed to the bathroom with his siblings, he remarked, “I was hoping you’d come for me!”
I needed to be the one to protect him and I’m glad he wasn’t too cool yet to welcome it.
“Of course I’d come for you!” I replied, as my heart melted. Ninja staff handled the tornado warning amazingly, providing us with updates, water, flashlights, and coloring activities for the kids to pass the time.
Soon enough, the weather front passed, and we were safe to go about our ways. My children’s ninja class was now over, but since the tornado was then headed in the direction of my home, I held back for awhile and chatted with my friend.
Our day had already been full of school activities and appointments so I was tired. As soon as I knew it was safe to be home, we were on our way.
We pulled into the driveway about an hour and a half later than our normal schedule, and with a sigh of anticipated relief, I pushed the button on the garage door remote. It didn’t open.
After several attempts, checking the remote battery, and knowing I wouldn’t be able to get in the house through any other door because of their strange locks, I was out of options.
“No, no, no no!” I sputtered louder each time.
I still wasn’t sure if the problem was the battery in my remote or a power outage, so I called my same, trusty friend who was on her own way back from ninja class.
After explaining my newest predicament, I asked if her husband might be handy and could find a way to break me in my home. I also went to the neighbor’s house and asked if he had a battery I could try in my garage remote.
And there we were in the cold, sprinkling rain: me, my friend, her husband, all of our children, the neighbor and his teenage son. I called my property managers, and three different lock smiths.
Window screens were pulled out, wires and one breaker box checked, batteries replaced, doors yanked on, and I was sincerely concerned the neighborhood watch would call the police about our attempted break-in.
Nothing worked, and we finally conceded that there was absolutely no way we were getting in the house that night.
My poor friends.
They’d already watched my children during surgery, along with other occasions as well. They were at the park when my daughter was injured. They were at ninja class during the tornado. They tried to break me into my home.
And now we were imposing ourselves on them to stay the night in their warm, welcoming home until a lock smith could be available in the morning to open my garage door.
I was restless that night, unsure what would greet me the next morning when we’d finally get our garage door open: a minor power outage or a costly repair somewhere?
A few hours later, when it took the locksmith exactly three minutes to open my garage door, my anxiety fled. A power surge during the tornado warning had knocked out the power to only the garage.
We reset the power, I paid a mere $65 to the locksmith, and we were on our merry way.
Oh, but Murphy still wasn’t done and threw in one last little fuss before letting us be.
Three nights later, and two nights before my daughter’s second surgery to remove the pins in her finger, another child woke up in the middle of the night with the stomach virus. I panicked, counting the hours we had left before surgery and hoping my sick child would be in the all clear window (and not infect anyone else) so yet another friend could watch them for me.
As this poor child quickly recovered the next morning, I called my friend to explain how we would not meet the normal 24-hour post symptoms window if I brought the children to her the next day. I appreciated her willingness to take on the kids anyway.
I am blessed and thankful the injuries and incidents we experienced were not the worst case scenario when Murphy’s Law of Deployment hit.
I have felt silly at times, putting so much emphasis on my daughter’s finger – just a finger – or for making such a fuss over these other circumstances when others may have experienced worse.
Then, I pause to remember that these are momentous situations for my precious children who process things differently. And it’s important for me to acknowledge the great challenge I have to juggle all the extras while trying to balance normal life with a house full of emotional children during a deployment.
And so, when Murphy came calling…GRACE.
When Murphy came calling…the opportunity to swallow my pride and ask for lots of help.
As our escapades were winding down, I realized that God had really provided a village to assist and comfort me while my husband was gone.
No matter how big or small our challenges, we still need our people.
It’s those who meet us where we are to walk through life’s challenges together, and to carry us through that season.
That, my friend, is what bonds us together in our military life.
Our people help us find joy in our military journeys, and Murphy will never have anything on them!
*Check out Lavaughn’s Author Page to read more of her work.
For more on this topic, check out some of Murphys Most Infamous Laws.