Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just a Few Seconds

It's still early, but my morning has proven too "interesting" already...

Quinn woke up early this morning, apparently after a bad dream, screaming "Mmmmoooommy!" and I couldn't get out of bed yet as my work day yesterday was one of the more exhausting ones. When I did manage to shuffle out to the living room I found out that his first words to Daddy this morning were "I miss Mommy". My eyes immediately welled up as I know my current schedule and the upcoming move are really affecting him. No guilt there, people... In any event, after a half hour of cuddle time, it became a fight trying to get him dressed and out the door to daycare. Sean actually had to rip him off my neck as they were already late. As I listened to my son screaming all the way down the hall, while waiting for the elevator and then fading off into the distance as the elevator descended towards the garage, I thought to myself "this parenting thing is NOT easy".

I grabbed a drink, sat down in front of the computer and starting sifting through my email. Quite a few jokes from friends... a bit of spam... and then a note from my cousin. As I read her words, I could feel the tears threatening to spill over again. This parenting thing is NOT easy... not by a long shot. At the risk of offending her (as I have not asked her permission to do this), I will reproduce her note here, word for word.

"Last night Bill and I were driving along Montreal road towards Orleans with Liam [their one year old] and Fritzie [the dog] when all of a sudden, out of the blue, a young man (19 years old) was airborne heading straight for our car ( I thought he was on a skateboard at first but later found out it was a piece of car that followed him). He had been hit by a car in the opposite lane and was thrown 30 feet into our lane. He landed just a few feet short of our vehicle on the pavement, we slammed on the breaks. It was like dead weight hitting the ground....I can only imagine he lost consciousness when he was hit (the car was driving the speed limit apparently) and it was a large Lincoln/Crown Vic type car. He did not respond when Bill yelled asking him if he was alright, he was barely breathing. In the meantime I called 911 while Bill stayed with him as other onlookers gathered around the scene. The fire department, police, ambulance showed up in less than five minutes and took him away. Apparently, both lanes had a green light and this young man with his Ipod on ran across the street (on a no walk signal) to get to the class we assume - it looked like he was a Police Services student at the college over here. We heard on the news last night and this morning that he is still in critical condition.

We really hope he makes it. If you don't mind saying a little prayer for him that would be nice. As I was rocking Liam to sleep last night I realized just how precious life is and how it can be changed or taken away instantly, without warning. That 19 year old boy was some other parent's baby lying in the middle of the road - I couldn't help but think about the call his parent's got shortly after that accident. And, I was awake thinking about how in this day and age we're so afraid to touch people (especially where blood is involved) for fear of contracting AIDS, hepatitis, and other contagious diseases. All I kept thinking was..... if that were Liam or any other member of my family I would desperately want someone to not only sit by them but to touch them and hold their hand. It's sad that we can do that as openly anymore. "

I immediately felt for this young man, for his parents. My colleagues with older children always tell me that you never stop worrying about them no matter what age they are. This young man appears to have made a stupid choice and quite possibly will lose his life over it. I wonder if he got along with his parents. I wonder what the last conversation he had with them was. I wonder if he was happy, had a girlfriend, had friends, had hobbies... or if he felt alone, abandoned and walking into traffic with an Ipod wasn't the accident that it seems.

Immediately after this thought, my sick sense of humour pictures him in the afterlife and the irony of "the unobservant police services student being hit by a Crown Vic" giving this kid and the boatman a good laugh. I hope so. I find a little comfort in this. Coping mechanisms? Check.

I do really feel for my cousin, as she and her little family were trundling along happily until this young man was literally thrown in their path. They are not doctors or nurses... or security or cops or EMS... they are not accustomed to the brief intersections we make into others lives. We pop in, usually after tragedy, do our thing, pop out again and have little concept of the impact we actually make on people. I know there will be quite a few of all of those professions reading this. I also know many of you will take in a little bit of air, think "Wow. That's awful. Hope he's ok." and then move on to the next thing. We leave the facts to the news and the emotions to the grieving family. We do this for survival. We do this to keep our ghosts to a minimum.

That is, until it is our family member, our child.

My mommy-guilt was in full tilt boogie this morning, but it is nothing compared to the vigil that this boy's mother now probably keeps. Parenting is a rough sport... and it is stories like this that remind us how rough it can actually be.

It only took a beat or two for this young man to make his choice... one that has changed many lives, including his own, forever. Hug the little ones (and the big ones as well) a little tighter this morning.
That only takes a few seconds too.


Anonymous said...

Love- I read your blog
and wanted to tell you:
My son came to South Africa at the end of September to have his tonsils out because the NHS doctors didn't seem too safe, to put it mildly. And the specialist said (to cut a very long story very short) that he didn't need that operation.
So we went all over together, revisited the Botanic Gardens where he used to be shorter than a little pipe in the ground when he was two and now he's 6'3".
Talked about a lot of things.
But the important part was I told him how sorry I was that I couldn't afford Teddy Bears and toys when he was little, lot of shit going on at that time - BIG lot.
Now I bought him new glasses from the optician and new lenses for his other two pairs, cost me more than I could have ever have imagined, said to him, it makes up for the teddies, he was duly annoyed but I got a chance.
He's back in London now but:
They understand when they grow up and even now, that nothing is bloody perfect, we all have to work, shit comes our way, we can't always be there.
Mothers live with guilt and they cry, but as long as the love is there, your child will be OK.
Thinking of you, missed you on Flickr so came over here.
We have an expression in South Africa - 'Vasbyt' it means literally 'Bite Fast'.
But otherwise just 'Hang On' it'll get better.
Lots of love,
Val (Emily).

Val said...

I meant to try to get this posting right.
I'm emilyinautumn from flickr but it came out as anonymous.
I'm the one who left the last message.
Love, Emily (Val)