There are times in our lives where life fades from color to black and white. Moments that are etched in our minds never to be forgotten. Seconds that feel like they last an eternity. Tiny blips on a radar where parts of our soul are shattered.
One minute we are going about our day and in an instant, something changes. Life alters in some way. For almost three weeks I’ve had writer’s block. I’ve tried over and over again to write.
But words have failed me each time. Yet I close my eyes and images replay themselves. Words flash through my mind on repeat. Making it hard to concentrate. Making it hard to sleep.
Two months ago, my youngest son got his license and with that came the normal fear every parent feels the first time they pull out of the driveway on their own. The hours spent watching the clock knowing precisely when he’s on the road again and when he should be walking through the door. I find myself glancing at the clock knowing when he’s leaving school. Knowing when he’s leaving work. Trying not to worry, but failing each time.
I realize this is a normal part of the growing pains we go through. He hits a milestone and pulls away and I have to relinquish control. A necessary evil for him to become an adult. A hard lesson for mom.
The clock said 1:55 and I quietly acknowledged he should have been on his way home from school so when the phone rang 5 minutes later I felt my heart shatter. I knew the moment my phone went off that something was wrong. Call it intuition. Call it mother’s instinct. Call it the part of my heart that lives outside my body being in pain. Whatever it was, I knew it before I answered the phone. I felt the shatter before I even said hello. The fact that he was able to call me and tell me he was ok should have been a relief, but in that moment, all I knew was that he’d been in an accident and I wasn’t there.
The five-minute drive felt like hours. Each mile I passed felt like I was driving farther away. Like I was on a treadmill running in place. As I rounded the corner and saw the car still placed awkwardly in the middle of the road, I felt that shatter again. That quake in my soul that told me this was bad. That image of his car is etched in my brain. Not because of the damage. At that point, the damage didn’t register. What actually clicked in my brain was the fact that the accident had been bad enough, he hadn’t been able to pull the car off the road. That it was pointing the wrong way. That moments before he had been inside that car.
After seeing him with my own eyes and wrapping my arms around him, I finally felt like I could breathe again. And then he stepped back allowing me to see the damage to the car for the first time. In that moment, my knees started to buckle as I was shattered again. The way the tire was facing the wrong direction. The gnarled metal from the very front to the very back. The glass that was no longer where it belonged. The pieces scattered all over the road.
As I looked inside the car where he had been, my breath hitched. The glass had imploded inward allowing parts of the outside of the car to fly inside. Not only had these pieces and glass exploded like a bomb, they had exploded on him. The passenger side of the car took the hit, but everything landed on the driver’s side. On and around him. As he emptied his shoes full of glass he told me he had climbed out the broken window. Through the glass. Through the broken pieces. And while I know I can’t be with him every moment of every day, I realized how alone he must have felt and another piece of me………..
As mother’s we want to protect our children from everything. We want to be there for every obstacle and challenge they face. Wielding our sword and deflecting with our shield. He’s already had such a tough year and was just getting his feet under him again. Then this. Injuries, a lost car, missed school, missed work, pain, and sleepless nights………
When I was pregnant with Tristan my Nana was given weeks to live yet she refused to believe that prognosis. She fought and told everyone she would not die until she knew my baby was born healthy. Months later Tristan was born with cancer and she again refused to give in to her prognosis. She declared she wouldn’t die until she knew he was healthy. Two years after her diagnosis she took her last breath. A week after Tristan was declared in remission and only hours after she watched a video she made me send, giving her proof he was ok. I’ve always felt like she’s been Tristan’s guardian angel. Watching over every scan. Every blood test. Making sure he defied all odds.
Today, I have no doubt she was riding shot gun with Noah. She was in that car with him wielding that shield for me. Deflecting each piece of glass as it flew toward him. She wrapped her arms around him and held him close as his body bounced off the driver’s door. She cradled his head as it hit the driver’s window. She knew that as shattered as I am by the images that are etched in my mind, as shattered as I am by the pain I’m watching him suffer through……it’s nothing compared to how shattered I’d be if he wasn’t here.
As bad as it is, we are truly blessed. Some of my pieces may have shattered like the glass in his car, but every piece can be put back together. One day at a time. Every time I hear him laugh or see him smile it is like glue putting the pieces together again. Today could look completely different if the accident had ended differently. I am aware of that all the time. And quite honestly, I think that is what gives me trouble with my words.
I have cried more in the last three weeks than I have in a long time and that’s because I’m constantly filled with such overwhelming gratitude. He survived. He’s going to recover. This will eventually be part of a bad memory, but it won’t be something that has scarred us forever. Those shattered pieces will heal. Those images will fade. Life will go on. And that’s where my loss for words comes in.
How do you express how full your heart is when you know it could have been shattered forever?
Through tears……lots and lots of tears!