Friday, March 08, 2013
Friday night was date night for my wife and me. To be transparent, things haven't been so good between us for a while. There's been emotional distance, stubbornness, and maybe just plain forgetting the good things and good times....so a date night was needed and my kids were out with friends, so it was perfect timing.
Dinner was quiet, but pleasant. We went home to enjoy a movie on Netflix. Unfortunately, by 9:00, I was passing out on the couch....my wife asked, "Are you falling asleep?" I just nodded my head. She laughed, “Oh, no….” Sometime soon after that, as I lay groggy on the sofa, the phone rang. A shaky voice was on the other end, "Hi, this is Debbie, there's been a horrible little accident. The kids are fine, I don't want you to worry. Alyssa has a cut on her forehead and shoulder..."
My wife went to get the phone, but Debbie had hung up by then. She was frantic, "Alyssa was in a car accident!" I tried to to focus on Debbie's comment that all the kids were all right, but the shaky voice and "horrible little accident" left me more than a little shaken. We tried calling her, calling our daughter, calling her daughter and got nothing. Just when I was about to text Alyssa, the phone rang again...
"This is the Elk Grove Fire Department. We think you know your daughter has been in a rollover car accident." "I didn't know it was a rollover..." was all I could say. "She is in stable condition and is communicating which is very good. She has a bad laceration on her forehead and a cut on her shoulder. You need to get to the hospital right now...."
Suddenly horrible little accident didn't seem so little....my wife started crying, I grabbed the keys. She made calls to both my sons. My oldest was in Southern Cali for business, I could hear his stunned voice repeating "rollover...." My youngest son was with his girlfriend and her family. Her mother took the phone and said she was bringing him to the hospital. We called my mother because she lives close to the hospital and we knew she could get there first. "Oh my God, is she all right?" "We don't know..." my wife said. I yelled out "She's stable..." That is all I knew and what I wanted to hold on to. "She's stable..."
The hospital that they were taking my baby to specializes in children and trauma, but it was several miles away in Sacramento. I don't remember much of the drive, all I remember is when the emotions kicked in....from fright, to sadness, to anger, to "please God let her be ok..."...sometimes all came within seconds of one another...I remember my eyes welling up with tears, I remember being completely discombobulated in trying to find a hospital that I used to live down the street from...
When we pulled into the parking lot, we were right behind my parents who live down the street still from the hospital. That is how fast I was driving. My wife, mother and stepfather all hurried into Emergency leaving my sister and me to pay for parking. She looked into my eyes and asked, "Are you all right?" I started sobbing for a sec and then the other emotions took over again. My youngest son and his GF then pullted up, he came over to me and we hugged briefly. He had tears in his eyes...he looked utterly lost. This young man who loves to torment his sister looked so absolutely lost. His wisp of a GF put her arms around him, looked up into his sad face and said quietly, firmly, "She is going to be ok." That was so very special...she was taking care of my boy.
As we all started walking into the hospital, I saw my wife sitting down abruptly and crying with my mother standing over her. I walked faster. As I got to them, my mother approached me with tears and a shaky voice, "She's going to be all right." "What? She's here already?" "Yes, and she's going to be all right. She has a cut on her head and on her shoulder, but she will be fine." As soon as she said that, the social worker was standing there asking for the parents. My wife popped out of her seat and I lamely raised my arm like I was back in school.
As she began to escort us back to where our daughter was, my wife began to sob...the social worker stopped in her tracks and took my wife by the shoulders and said, "Mom, you need to be strong..." and she prepared us by saying that there was a lot of blood. At that point, I just needed to see my girl, needed to see she was truly all right. When we got to the room, I saw my baby with a large piece of gauze over her right eye, her face coated with dried blood, her hands also covered in blood, scratches and bruises on her arms....."hi, baby.....how's my girl?" "Hi daddy, I'm ok..."
To say the rest of our time at the ER and then the next day in the hospital was easy would be a lie. While I knew when I saw her that she would be "ok", there were numerous tests to run, stitches, many visitors, many medical staff some with wonderful bedside manner and some that didn't know how to filter their comments, x-rays and catscans. The "cut" on her forehead was much worse that what we thought...it was actually a hole...no parent is ever prepared to see that and they certainly didnt prepare us for it when they showed it to us. But we stayed strong...at least in front of her. There were trips to the cafeteria where we just sat and cried into our food....and then were ever so thankful that none of the 7 girls or the driver in the SUV were more hurt than they were. From the pics we saw much later and the reports we heard, we were indeed very fortunate, very blessed that everyone would be "ok". I do believe in miracles, even more now.
There will be some permanent scarring, there will be some minor plastic surgery to minimize the scarring, and the process will take time. The healing process, in and out, will take time....but Alyssa has shown me such strength and character through all of this...sure, she has had moments when she looked in the mirror and cried, "I don't want people to see me like this..." But she always bounced back....and the physical healing process has been absolutely amazing. She took one week off school, and she is now back....her friends and classmates have been fairly suppotive, except for the one that uttered, "That's gross..." but ALyssa just rolled her eyes when she shared that comment with me.
While on the hospital bed she shared, "God has a plan in this, we may never know what it is, but He has a plan..." and then the other day she said, "I don't know if I could take this back that I would..." I'm not real sure what her rationale is, but I am sure that she has deeply thought this through because I certainly would take it back!...my 14 year old is a warrior....a living miracle...she has inspired me in ways that I can't even count.
There is a lot more to this story, actually, it continues to be written....for now though, her laughter and silly faces will do...as will our good night hugs...and the way we mimic one another...my baby is ok...my baby is ok.