Tempering: Of Tree Houses and Tragedies

This personal essay recounts a mother’s worst nightmare: her seven-year-old son’s 22-foot fall from a tree house onto a railroad tie, resulting in multiple skull fractures and serious brain trauma. The essay, however, is more than a recitation of the ride in the ambulance, the short stay in the emergency room, and the helicopter trip from Provo to Salt Lake City. The author delves into her own feelings and gives a candid, even brutal, self-analysis of her response to the unfolding tragedy: “They say you can tell who a person really is in a crisis. If they are right, then I am small. I am a tiny, diamond-hard walnut of a person, obedient and docile, shocked. I lodge just below my breastbone, tight, curled inward, barely aware of my extremities.”

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 51:2
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