There are things I never want to have to experience again:
- Looking into the back seat of my car to see the metal twisted around my daughters seat, her face covered in blood.
- Watching her go pale-face and ashen in the shower as I work to clean 11 stitches in the top of her amazingly beautiful head.
- Seeing her throw up from the shock.
Let me state that I am an absolutely blessed woman in this moment because my daughter is sleeping soundly in bed, guarded by her stuffed animals, with nothing more than 11 stitches to show for it.
And I don’t know how.
She told me that Charlie the Werewolf had asked her to lean towards the middle of the car and that’s why she wasn’t sitting straight in her seat where a Ford F150 came plowing through her window (estimates put the speed at between 65 – 90 mph) before hitting the next 3 or 4 cars.
They say that after an accident you are supposed to remember that awful sound of metal and crunching. I don’t remember that. I don’t remember any sound. I don’t remember much. I remember feeling something hit the back of my head, I remember feeling my car lurch forward. I remember turning around and seeing metal and glass where my baby’s body should have been (extra steak bones for you tonight, sweet beautiful Charlie). Her eyes met mine in shock and blood poured down her beautiful face. “I’m okay, Mom. Don’t worry, Mom. I’m okay,” she repeated, because her first thought was for me.
I remember undoing her seat belt and getting her into my lap before fully taking in the scene in front of me. Car after car ripped apart as though made of Styrofoam. I remember the look on the face of the dog in the truck in front of me as he tried to escape. I’ve never seen such terror on a dog’s face before.
I remember a lack of comprehension – a fender bender shouldn’t cause that much damage. Surely I had imagined the damage to my car in my state of panic. Even if the car that hit me had completely missed the fact that there were cars waiting at a red light (how could they? We’d been waiting for a while – there was plenty of time…), thirty mph shouldn’t cause that much damage.
I remember the look of panic on the woman’s face who ran to my door and realized it must have mirrored my own. That woman was an angel. I watched her take the jacket off her own body to wrap my child’s bleeding head in.
I remember the instantaneous mom-rage: that bastard that asshole how dare they hurt my child. I remember talking myself down from it: we all make mistakes. How easy would it be to misjudge a stop (I didn’t know until 3 and half hours later when picked up by my friend – she told me that he’d been going 90 mph. That he’d hit a car .6 miles earlier.)
I remember the first responder to the scene. A witness. He came over and took my baby’s vitals and talked to her and kept us comfortable.
I remember looking across the street at the man sitting on the opposite curb. He watched us for a while and put his head down in his hands. And I thought, ugh, the horror of an incident. He’s going through this trauma too. (I didn’t know, then, that he was the man impaired by, what? Percocet they say. Certainly not in any condition to drive. Complete disregard for the lives in front of him. And I certainly didn’t know then that he didn’t have insurance – is that why he was running?)
I remember alternating between complete and total panic and complete rationality as my baby reached up and patted me and told me again and again: “I’m okay. I’m okay. I love you. You’re a good mom.”
I remember the feeling of dread at seeing the bicycle handlebars strewn on the ground. The feeling of relief that the bicycle had been strapped, riderless, to the back of a car. (What if a family had been crossing the street?)
I remember feeling that I couldn’t stop touching her. I had to have my hand on her. And the panic I felt when they were strapping her to the board. And the look of fear on her face. And those EMTs. I have so much respect. We were treated with love and kindness and confidence.
I remember the wave of nausea that hit me when I walked around to see the passenger side of my car. To see that I had not imagined it. That that car was obliterated right where my baby was sitting. (How, how were we okay? Don’t question. Be thankful.)
I remember walking to the ambulance with the little girl in it and realizing that she was not my little girl. That was the wrong ambulance. Then realizing that there was still another little girl sharing my baby’s ambulance. How many little girls were there in this mess?
I remember the EMT knowing how to spell my name because he, too, is Scottish. I remember the beautiful nurse bringing the stuffed tiger to my baby (“Mom, I know what I’m going to name him. I’m going to name him courageous.”) and seeing the look of relief in her eyes at having a stuffy to hold. I remember the police officer with the kind eyes talking so gently and telling my baby how remarkable she is and how brave. (That was repeated all night. So brave. So brave. And everyone involved was so brave.) I remember the CT scan operator letting me stand as close as I needed while my baby went through the “portal to another dimension”. I want to buy flowers for half the city of Boulder.
I remember the look of pride in my baby’s eyes as she got her hair cut in bangs just 30 minutes before the crash and feeling so angry that she was robbed of that.
I remember the crowd of police and nurses watching my little tiny child get her head sewn up while she told an animated story about rabbits.
I don’t know how every person in that crash (nine cars. NINE CARS) walked away relatively unscathed. Even the dog.
I don’t know how I will regain my sense of trust. The thing that panics me panics me is that there was not a single goddamn thing I could have done differently to impact the outcome of that. It was sheer dumb luck (or werewolf miracle) that she was in the position she was. That we weren’t a few inches farther back on the road.
I do know that my baby is warm and safe and sleeping soundly.
Thank you werewolves. Thank you universe. Thank you Kia engineers. Thank you EMTs and 1st responders and police and strangers on the street. I am a lucky lucky Mama Werewolf.