Every Parent’s Nightmare
It happened Wednesday. I was in a meeting with 25 clients and colleagues. I never pick up when I’m giving a presentation, but this time I did. It was my daughter. She never calls, she usually texts. I went with my gut, excused myself from the meeting and answered the call.
“Mom, am I on speaker phone?” I knew immediately this was not going to be good news.
“Okay, okay. First, before I say anything, I want you to know I’m alright. But I’ve been in an accident with your car.”
My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach. “How bad was this going to be?” I wondered as I tried to figure out how to calmly respond. How does one calmly respond when their 19-year-old was just in an accident with an almost brand new vehicle which you’ve owned for only four months? How do you ascertain whether the “I’m alright” really means alright or is she calling from a stretcher? I’m absolutely certain that I did not do this well.
“So….how are you? Are you hurt?”
“I have some bruises and scrapes but I’m okay.” Ugh. Was she understating things to try to keep me from distress or was she playing it straight. Turns out my kid rendered it all pretty accurately and directly.
“Okay, is the car driveable.”
“No.” That was not the response I wanted to hear.
“Are there policemen at the scene?”
“Yes.” This was also not a response I wanted to hear. It was clear to me that I was going to have to leave work and deal with this. In less than ten minutes I was on my way in a colleague’s car to the scene of the accident.
It’s a good thing I’d spoken with my daughter beforehand, because we could see the lights from the emergency vehicles a mile away. Had I not heard her voice, I would have been in hysterics.
“Oh fuck!” The words escaped me before I realized it. “Be strong. Be strong,” I repeated the words hoping for the strength and courage and calm I did not feel. My co-worker dropped me off, I grabbed my bag and turned to her, thanked her and said, “Show time!” as I shut the car door behind me.
Parenting is not for cowards. Single parenting is not for the faint of heart. It is incredibly difficult to watch your children grow up and make mistakes or experience hurt, loss and pain. I think most parents wish to save or shield their children from as much pain and hardship as possible. I’m not exception. The trouble with this is that it simply cannot be done. At some point, you must let your child be an adult. My daughter needed the car that day. I let her use it. Every time I do I worry even though she is a very careful driver. I worry about her driving. I worry about my older daughter also. When my son is old enough, I will worry about him as well. No one wants to get that visit from the state trouper informing you that your child was involved in a fatal car crash.
Fortunately, I knew my child was fine, bruised maybe but fine. She ran up to me when I arrived. I was and am grateful that she was able to walk away from this incident. My new car and the very large truck pulling an RV which hit her did not have such good luck.
It is now six days out from the accident, and I’ve been advised by the adjuster I am working with locally to plan on this car being totaled. So I wait. I try to go through the motions of each day, but I am once again worrying.
How long will this take?
If they decide the car is a total loss, will their settlement offer cover the payoff on my loan and at least $1K to get me into another similar vehicle?
Will I have to wait until that loan is paid off and reporting to credit agencies before I can even consider looking for another vehicle (my insurance doesn’t cover a rental car for that much time). How can I possibly come up with a loaner car to get me through till I can get another vehicle?
A car is a car. It’s fixable or replaceable. My daughter was the true item of value in this situation and she is walking around, sporting some lovely bruises but she is alive. I’m so grateful for this. Even today, I shudder when I think how I might be feeling right now if things had not turned out so nicely for her last Wednesday morning at 8:33.
What if I hadn’t gotten the call from her, but instead, from my ex or a state trouper? It is my worst nightmare. Though my family and I had attached to this vehicle because it was symbolic of things getting better for us after all the hardship we’ve been through the last ten years, it still is only a material item. It isn’t one-of-a-kind. I can get another. I can’t say the same about my daughter. If something were to ever happen to her, or any of my children, I just don’t know how I would cope.
My daughter is house-sitting this week and I had to take her over and drop her at the place. She will will be alone with the house and the dog and her thoughts and, now, whatever memories of that day that she has. Timing is everything. I’m sad that this happened. I’m more sad that it happened when it did. I cannot be around to comfort my child and tell her everything is going to be okay. Even if I could be present, I have my own doubts about it all being okay. I feel badly about this. I wish I could somehow be stronger for her, for myself.
As she turned and walked up to the house where she will be stay for the next couple of weeks, I once again breathed a sigh of relief and a prayer of gratitude. She is okay. Somehow the car thing will work out, though it might be difficult for a month or two. The most important entity in all of this is safely walking up to house sit for a family friend. She’s walking. She’s not in ICU. She’s alive.
For the millionth time since Wednesday, I breathe a sigh of relief and gratitude. I’m not a stranger to difficulty. As long as the children are okay, I will make it through.