It’s been one week. People keeping asking me “what does it feel like?” and “how are you?”. I don’t know how to them answer. All I know is what it sounds like.
I heard screeching tires. I assumed it was some dillweed peeling out. I was talking to my Mom via Bluetooth connection in her vehicle. I knew she was on her way home from her hair appointment in Valparaiso, Indiana and I just assumed she must have been at the intersection by 41 and Route 30, where stupidity seems to reign and people often try and beat stoplights or speed and then cram on the breaks when they realize there is already traffic in the intersection so that they don’t hit them… but most times they do hit them.
I heard silence. In my mind I could see her screaming and clenching the steering wheel. I waited alone in bed on my hands and knees saying her name over and over. “Mom! Mom!” I heard more screeching and then the silence of my Mom’s voice was broken by her screaming. It started with her screaming while tires were screeching, followed by her screaming “No! No! No! I’m going to get hit, I’m going to get hit”. Followed by the crunching sound of metal and her crying and screaming at me to “Call 911, call 911, call 911”. I screamed her name and tried to get the words to come out to ask her where she was but I couldn’t. I heard the female auto dial voice of her Ford Edge “Contacting Emergency Services, disconnecting you now”. I started screaming “Mom” over and over and over again. Then I started yelling “Oh shit oh shit oh shit” while I dialed my Dad’s number to once again tell him that Mom was hit by someone. He picked up the phone and started telling me about how he had missed my calls because he just got done weeding the vegetable garden. I told him to stop talking and that Mom had been in a car accident while I was on the phone with her. He freaked out and started talking about how he had texted her to see when she’d be home. I told him it didn’t matter now because I didn’t know where she was. He told me he would try to call her and hung up. I then called my brother who called Crete, IL dispatch and tried to find out where she was, because I live in Minnesota and I was in Waseca. 500 miles away at best from wherever my Mom died… at least that’s what I thought. I thought she had died. In my mind I could see photos of a horrific car crash with a family in our community who had just died along with her 4 children. I tried to remember the last time I had seen her. It was over 3 months ago. Phone calls ensued back and forth between my Dad and I, my brother and I. An accident was reported on Exchange Street. Someone had crossed the center line.
I text my best friend Jen. I tell her I’m freaking out and that my Mom’s been hit and I don’t know where she is and that I was on the phone with her and heard it happen. She asks how I am and all I keep saying is that I’m freaking out. I tell her it was head on. She tells me she’s on her knees praying and I start to cry because I know that she’s good for it. I know that at that very moment wherever Jen is she is on her knees on the ground praying, like I wish I knew how to do.
A gal named Katie was driving behind my Mom. We later found out she was 25 years old. She had been hit as well. She pulled my Mom out of the passenger side of her vehicle and asked her for her password to her phone than scrolled through and found Dave – Husband and dialed my Dad. My Mom had just labeled all of us in case of emergency a few weeks ago. Katie told my Dad they had her on a board and were taking her in the ambulance but that she was talking…. She was alive.
My husband came out of the bathroom following a shower and asked what show I was watching. I told him it wasn’t a show, it was real life, my Mom got hit by a car head on. “Again? Why does this keep happening to her?”
Phone calls continued back and forth until 1am when they were awaiting the test results. My Dad called me from outside of the hospital. A cat was following him around looking for food and he was not amused. He told me to call back in the morning and that everything would be okay.
Call back in the morning? Yeah I’ll just go ahead and get some high quality shut eye and then we’ll wake up in the morning refreshed maybe even fry some frigging bacon and see how she’s doing while my coffee percolates.
The last time I remember looking at the clock it was 3am.
Morning comes and my Dad calls and says the results came back alright aside from her heart. She has a heart contusion and is badly bruised. I start getting text messages from family members and those who have heard, all telling me she’s lucky to be alive. I secretly wish they would stop saying that to me. Why don’t they understand that I know she’s lucky to be alive. She was lucky to be alive after her first surgery that ended poorly when they thought she had cancer and then she was lucky to be alive after her corrective surgery when she was on a feeding tube and had her abdomen stapled shut. She was lucky to be alive when the first pickup truck rear ended her in a snowstorm while it was driving too fast for conditions. She was lucky to be alive a few years later when an impatient person was weaving in and out of traffic and rear ended her.
I freaking know she’s lucky to be alive.
I have enough hospital images of times when we weren’t sure she would make it to last me a life time.
At this time it sounds like she’s doing alright. I decide I’ll go to lunch with my friend and her two children as planned. When I get there, I see text messages from my brother. The messages contain the pictures of the totaled car. I say to myself “I have no idea how she’s alive”. I get a message from Val who is a new employee at Here We Grow and she tells me she’s praying for me and is glad I’m able to be with my Mom…. It hits me that I need to go home. I call Jen at Here We Grow and tell her I’m going home.
I drive back to the campground grab my things, call my husband and tell him I need to go home. He arrives as I’m finishing packing and we say “good-bye” and hug. I wish he could come with me but I know his employer would never let that fly. I get angry for two seconds about that and then get in the car and start the drive.
The drive is 500 miles. I wasn’t going to tell my Mom I was coming. But she keeps sending me text messages saying that she needs to hear my voice and know that I’m okay. That the last thing she remembers after the crash is my voice screaming “Mom! Mom!” and she couldn’t respond.
I realize I’m not okay. I spend the next 7 hours in the car driving and listening to The Message thinking about the many times I’ve gone to the hospital and seen her when she’s almost died. I let myself cry the majority of the way home, thinking about the accident and how she would never have met our children. I thank God that she’s alive, because it was because of Him and not luck that she’s still here.
Somewhere along the drive, I make a decision to go through with something I’ve wanted to implement at Here We Grow for a long time. I freak out about it on and off on the way home to Illinois. Why does our society have to view “Mental Health” with a negative connotation. Why can’t it just be normal and good to take time for oneself? I continue to think about how I will implement this component at Here We Grow and why it will be beneficial. I arrive home in Illinois a little after midnight Friday morning.
Lesson 1: “I wish I had worked longer; I was so close to the corner office with the windows” – Said No One on their Deathbed Ever.
Live is short. Spend time with your family. The corner office at my parent’s business is actually empty. It houses the shredder and a table with a printer where they stick the auditor when he comes. So many lessons in business and ethics lie within that office/shop/business and I’m 100% certain my Dad has no freaking idea what they might be. Because to him… it’s normal. That family business is built on relationships, even though they may be rocky at times. It’s built on providing people the opportunity to live and spend time with their families. And to realize what is important before they die…. and the empty corner office will tell you, it ain’t the corner office.
You know what happens to the corner office with the windows when you die. They take your chair filled with your butt fungus and move it the next person on the rung of the ladder below you. If you’re lucky they’ll name a library or some meeting room after you.
But who cares about the view from the window of that office, if you never turned around to look at the pictures of your family hanging on the walls behind you.
Don’t miss what’s right in front you, in pursuit of the corner office. After all, no one on their deathbed ever said “I wish I had worked more, I was so close to the corner office”.