A frantic voice calling hello on a voice mail; scared, and hurt. A stranger telling you from your husband’s phone that they were in an accident. They. The family. My family. Two little girls – my stepdaughters, my husband, and………my teenage daughter? Was she with them?
I can’t understand him. This stranger. This man with my husband’s phone. I start to panic. How will I know where they are, or what happened? I hear a hospital name. THAT I do know.
Shaking……..Shocked……..Shocking……..I leave. I don’t know what I’ll find, but I head to the hospital.
I text my daughter. TM: Were you with them?
She is always with them, but she had told me she might go to a friend’s house. Did she?
There was no reply.
They weren’t at the hospital. There are no ambulances in dock. No sirens. Nothing.
The silence is deafening. The unknown – terrifying – pressing and pressing its steely claws of fear.
My phone rings and it’s my husband’s name, but it’s not him. It is a paramedic telling me my two step-daughters are being transported to the children’s hospital in downtown. My husband, and sixteen-year old daughter to the hospital across the street from the children. This? Made it very real.
I left the wrong hospital. I still didn’t know if they were okay or not, but I knew it was very serious.
My husband’s brother is with me. He is calm. I feed off his calm. I need calm, because I so badly want to fall apart. But I can’t. Not now. Maybe? Not ever.
I use the phone. Shaking hands dial the number. I call the mom of my four, and seven-year old step daughters. I call her to tell her…….both of her children are on the way to a children’s hospital by ambulance.
And I don’t know. I don’t know anything.
It is the most helpless feeling in the world. I hear her pain, her panic, her raw emotion. I wish I could help her, comfort her, but I am numb.
I have to pick which hospital I go to. I have to choose a room, and a person. I can’t see all four. I can’t know all at once.
I need to pray……. but I can’t remember how to pray. I want to cry……..but I can’t remember to do that either.
All I can do is repeat the phrase going through my mind. I trust you, Lord. I trust you. I know you will keep my family safe. I know you won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I trust you, Lord. I do.
In the ER, in a tiny room off the red line. I see my daughter’s gray-blue eyes. They are just above the rim of her neck brace. She has blood streaks all over legs. A spot of dried blood on her forehead and in her ear. She cradles her right hand covered in a bloody gauze. But she is awake. She is aware. She knows I’m here.
I want to cry, but I can’t. They are taking her off the back board.
My husband is around the corner. I find him. I see blood. So much blood. He is in a neck brace too. They are cutting his clothes off. But I see his clear blue eyes. I hear him talk. I bend my face over him. I am here.
Tears well, but they do not fall.
The paramedics tell me the little girls are at the ER and in rooms. Sydney tells me they were okay when she was with them, just scared, but not hurt (I hope).
I try to make sense of what happened and how. I ask questions.
I hear different versions from traumatized accounts.
I try to piece it together. The back drivers side tire struck by a turning truck. The Jeep rolled and landed upright. Pieces all around.
I head across the street. I have to see the little girls. My husband, their dad, on a stretcher in the ER needs me to see the little girls. My eyes spot the littlest one first. She is so scared. I can see it in her lower lip quiver. I ask her if she can speak and she nods. She takes a deep breath and says, “Yes, I can.” Using her brave voice with no quiver. Breaks my heart. I touch her silky hair. Her little voice so small trying to be so big.
The oldest step-daughter, Molly, smiles when she sees me. Her smile is all I see beneath the hulking neck brace. I see all her teeth in her bright grin. I almost lose it.
These precious babies…….so brave……so scared………but alive and breathing. I hug them. I kiss them. I tell them I love them. Oh, how much I love them!
I witness…. a miracle.
My family survives a very tragic, and scary ordeal.
Six hours after their arrival, I drive Jason and Sydney home. The little girls released long before to their mother who hugged me when I saw her, because God knows we needed all the hugs we could get.
It was over. They would heal. Emotionally and physically, but they were all still with us by the grace of God. His hand on them. His protection over them. I trust you, Lord. I do.
I visit the wrecker service lot. I see the Jeep. I feel the impact of what my family went through. I finally cry.
My step-daughters visit the day after the accident. They look amazing, and more beautiful than ever.
Their faces are so happy. So full of life. So overwhelmingly gorgeous.
We try out the new booster seats for my car. Ones that have the high-back like they had in Dad’s Jeep. But this time…they have a protective head rest too.
These fractured moments bring me clarity. They breathe new appreciation for our most precious cargo – family. My Sydney survived a horrific accident in the front of a badly crushed vehicle. I will never forget the moment I saw her side of the vehicle. My husband got to hold his children again and tell them he loved them after losing sight of them at the scene and not knowing for many hours how they were and not seeing them for more than 24 hours. I get to appreciate life in a whole new way.
One second. One moment……can change everything.
I know many of you prayed from Facebook. I can’t thank you enough. I believe God heard our cries.
I trust you, Lord. I do.