Words Are Power

Envelope knife was mailed in.

It was a few weeks after my son’s 16th birthday. He received an Amazon gift card from one of his friends and used this to order a knife. This particular knife looked like a raptor claw. It was small, had a hole in the handle for your thumb, and was shaped like a scythe. 

As my son was happily striking the air with his shiny new gift, my Motherly thoughts of worry started to creep in. As did my thoughts of the fact that I had just been laid off from the job I had held for the last 8 years, and my health insurance benefits would run out at the end of the month. He stops playing with the knife and I turn to walk back to my bedroom. As I’m walking, I’m having thoughts of worry and I’m compelled to walk over to him to ‘warn’ him. 

I jokingly say to my sweet teenage son, “You know my benefits run out at the end of this month, so if anything happens with that thing-you’re paying for it with your own money.” “Don’t worry, I know,….”, was the gist of his answer. 

I walk back to my room and as I’m there for no more than 30 seconds, I hear my son head for the bathroom sheepishly saying, “Well that didn’t take long.”. 

I walk into the bathroom to see him holding his hand over the sink as blood is dripping from the base of his left thumb. 

I self-righteously become a bit angry as clearly, he hadn’t heeded my warning. 

I ask how it happened, assuming he was playing with the knife and wasn’t being careful. He tells me that he’d set it down on the table and as he backed into the table, for whatever reason, he placed his hand right down on the knife. 

To me, this was still a lack of concern for my warning and I stayed angry with him as I gathered myself to take him to the Urgent Care. I wasn’t sure he needed stitches, but as I’ve learned through the years, err on the side of caution.

We bundle up and head to the Urgent Care near our home. I had called them before we left to make sure they performed stitching if that’s what my son needed. 

The waiting room was empty aside from one older gentleman crouched in his chair, looking up at the television. 

We walked to the front desk where two women were talking about some intersection in the neighborhood. They finished part of their conversation before acknowledging us, which annoyed me to no end. 

I told the one woman what we were there for. She motioned to a tablet in front of me and started to explain that this was the check-in process. I say started, because before she gave me any concrete instruction on what to do on this tablet, she proceeded to finish her ‘intersection’ conversation with the other woman at the desk. 

I was really annoyed now but I tried to muster my nicest poker face, which I’m sure was non-existent at this point, but I remember at least trying. 

I followed the instructions on the tablet after asking the woman if this is where I check-in. She then gave me forms to fill out, I gave her our insurance cards, id, etc. and we finished the check-in process. 

While we were filling out the paperwork, a woman and her teenage daughter came into the waiting room. I don’t know what they were there for but I now know why they were there. 

My son’s name was called and we headed back with the nurse. She had been the person I’d spoken to on the phone, we exchanged pleasantries then she got down to business. 

Dr. Gulati came in to do the stitches, you could feel the tension between the nurse and Dr. Gulati, but I’m sure that’s a whole different book. 

The Dr. finished the stitches, 4 to be exact, and sent us out to the waiting room to wait for our discharge instructions. 

As we’re waiting, the same Mother and daughter who were in the waiting room with us came out of the exam area we had just been in as well. 

The Mother looked at my son’s bandaged hand and caulked her head to the side with a compassionate look and said, “Oh Honey, did you have to get stitches?” My son agreed and started to tell her what happened. Before he had been able to finish his story, she interrupted excitedly to share her similar tale. 

She went on to tell us that about a year ago, her husband had been doing something with a knife or something just as sharp, I honestly don’t remember what she’d said.

She told us how she had said to her husband in a joking manner that he was going to cut his finger off. 

Well no less than a few minutes later, she’s upstairs and her husband comes running up the stairs with his hand wrapped in some bloody cloth exclaiming that they need to find his finger—he had in fact, cut it off. 

I sat there in disbelief, not because of the horrific nature of her husband’s injury but because of the incredible similarities in our stories. 

I never got a chance to tell her that I too had made the ill-advised prophetic warning to my own son. 

From that day to this very one, my son and I have been very careful of the words that we choose. 

Funnily, a few days later my son was getting ready for school. His backpack was lighter than usual because he had taken some books out to make room for his work uniform the Friday before (the very day he cut his thumb) and he was showing me how light it now was. I held the backpack and as my arm had trouble holding the thing up I made a joke. 

I spoke of how the backpack was still very heavy and if he happened to encounter any ice, he should make sure to fall backward so he would land on the backpack-much like a turtle. He and I laughed a very short laugh, then realized I was doing it again. 

I immediately shouted, “No!”, then scrambled to try to find some positive words to turn what I had just said around. 

It was much harder than I realized. I almost couldn’t find the words to tell him that he’d have a safe and uneventful walk to school. This made me realize just how many words we have for the negative of things and how few words we have for the positive.

**Side note: I was tidying up and found the soft-sided, bubble wrap envelope my son’s knife had come in. As I look at the return address, it read: Hosana, 172 Trade Street, Lexington KY, 40511. 

For those of you who may not know, the word spelled slightly differently, Hosanna is from Hebrew and related to Aramaic means: ‘save, rescue, savior’. In the Hebrew Bible it is used only in verses such as “help” or “save, I pray” (Psalms 118:25).

Brianne Roberts