I was visiting with women, stumbling to communicate, on the driveway of the little Mexican church when my seven-year-old and his playmates came up to me. In my ear I heard the gasp of a woman beside me and I turned and saw my son, blood streaming red down his face and covering the front of his shirt. In a second I registered the white of his face and the fear in his eyes and the blood. My knees gave a little and my breath left me as I reached for him and tried to gather him, bloody, into my arms.

Voices explaining. His little friend describing the climbing and the bumping and the falling. I’m going to lose it, I said to my sister, and she led us to a chair and we sat and we searched for the source of the red.

In the end, the injury was less dramatic than the scene warranted. Relief. No need for hospitals or stitches. But the feeling, the awful unknown, the sight of my bleeding boy … that will never leave me.

I think of another mother and another bleeding son. The tearing of her heart. The wanting to run to him, to gather him, bleeding, to her. The fear. The remembering of baby at breast, and toddler in kitchen, and chubby arms giving sweet hugs, and first day of school, and letting go. The picture of him, imprinted on mother’s heart, covered in streaming red, mocked and disrespected.

Often, Mary, I have thought of you and your boy. From mother-heart to mother-heart, I have thought of you and your son, the Son, and thanked you for your courage. And I am awfully, undeservingly thankful … for the blood.