Jolted awake by the vibration of my phone on the nightstand, I grab it off the charger, see that it’s Murielle calling. I assume she is letting me know she’s on her way home from the movie. Then I notice the time. Its 12:40 am, later than I thought. When I answer, she screams through a garbled cacophony, “Mommy, I am so sorry,” over and over and over again. That’s when I wake up from the dream I thought I was having, and join her nightmare.
I hold the phone away from my ear and look at it. I can’t understand her, like I’m walking through pudding in thick fog. Until the voice of a stranger pours cold water over all my senses and wakes me up.
She tells me she is a nurse, staying with my daughter until emergency crews arrive. That Murielle was just hit by an 18-wheeler near the grocery store, how she is lucky to be alive. I spring out of bed, throw off my pajamas, push legs and arms into clothes lying over the bathroom stool, will my mind to think through details, walk out of the house holding the phone and car keys, and leave my son behind to sleep.
Streets lay blanketed by stillness, dark and vacant. As I pull onto the highway, blue flashing lights in the distance bounce off pine skyscraper soldiers standing at attention. I gasp for breath. Dial H awake from slumber in a Denver hotel room.
As I approach, lights dance between an ambulance, fire truck and police cars blinding my vision. When I circle around to park, I see it, the mangled mess of metal that was once the shiny hood of her car. Fragments of the engine strewn in a million tiny pieces over the road for yards. And it’s hard to run fast through pudding.
She sits in the driver seat, black boots resting on pavement. An EMT crouches in front of her, strapping a brace around her neck and over her sweater printed swans. She tilts her watery eyes toward me, and says it again, “I’m so sorry Mommy.”
I clutch her shoulder, tell her not to be sorry because she is alive and that is all that matters. And when I ask them what happened, I watch a muted movie scrolling stilled frames of frenzy. All I hear is “It’s a miracle she is alive.”
She narrowly escapes falling through the hole in the veil between heaven and earth and I find myself hanging on to the broad arm of a fireman, steadying my uncontrollable trembling. When I ask him what happened he says, “It doesn’t matter. One more inch and this would be a different scenario. You don’t want to go there, all you need to know is she is a miracle.”
As the ambulance pulls away, I crawl back inside the car, rest my forehead on the steering wheel, shaking like a washing machine off balance, wonder who I can call. Who do you call at 1:30 in the morning when you are alone in the middle of trauma? After I can’t reach a friend, I take a deep breath and call on God. Because with Him I can do all things. And H, he talks me through to peace on the hour drive to the hospital.
I find her alone in a sterile room, strapped to a board on a table, head haloed by orange plastic, and arms lying up at her sides with needles sticking out in the bends. When she sees me standing over her, she says it again teary, that she is sorry.
She is sorry that she woke me up. That she wrecked the car we sacrificed to buy when someone totaled the first one. Sorry about my having to be up all night, to deal with all of this alone. Sorry that she wasn’t more cautious, that she made a mistake, that her brother was alone, that she might have to miss school because people are counting on her.
I watch the daughter I bore sixteen years ago love her neighbor as herself. And I have seen the face of God’s compassion. When I think I need to know why, find answers to life’s mysteries, I will remember that to have breath is a miracle. And that’s all that matters.
She walked to the car, crawled in her bed, and fell asleep. We don’t know who that nurse was but we do know God saved her life and for that, we are sobered thankful.
Thank you so very much for your prayers over the past few days. They have buoyed us and we are grateful for each one of you. I know this post is longer than my usual. I had to write it out for me this time. But my prayer is that it will be for you too. We’re on this pilgrimage together, yes?
Linking with Ann today in thanks for my daughter’s life.