It was a not-so-typical Friday. It was the last day of Spring Break from Shepherd U. and as usual I was mentally preparing myself for the long weekend ahead of me filled with 12 hour shifts at work. I had gotten up around 10am, fiddled around on the computer, and cussed myself for not being more productive with my school work over the break. Right before 12pm, just when I decided to lie back down and get more rest for work Hayley texted me and asked if she could go fishing. Hayley is my 17 year old daughter. She is reasonably responsible as teenagers go, so I told her yes, but to be home in time for her younger sister to get off the bus. She said she would be.
Little did I know less than 20 minutes later, Hayley would be in a terrible car accident that would change her life and mine.
When I stop and think about that moment, being the moment of impact, I wonder why I didn't feel it. Why my mother's intuition didn't set off alarms and make my heart beat quickly, the way it had done so many times in the past, when my children were in harm's way and not within my protection. I'm not sure of the answer to that question.
Back to the call ...Right after my conversation via-text with Hayley, I laid in bed to take a nap. Like normal, I didn't want to let myself have a full-on sleep, so I laid my phone by my head and only covered my legs with the blanket. I set my alarm on my phone for 2pm and curled into the fetal position. I felt myself start to drift somewhere around 1pm. Right at 2:02pm my phone started going off. At first, I was confused as to if it was my alarm, and then realized it was ringing. A number was calling that I didn't recognize and in between my disgust that my alarm didn't go off and the fact that a strange number was calling, I silenced the call.
Then it rang again. This time the number was different, but still not a number I knew...
"This is Tim Higgins from Inova Faifax Hospital Faifax Hospital, do you know why I am calling?"
"We have your daughter Hayley here. Do you know where we are?"
"We are about 20 minutes from Washington."
In my mind I was beginning to think, "That little shit lied to me."
Then he proceeded.
"Hayley was flown in from Berkeley County. She was in an auto accident."
"Is she okay?"
"Do you know how to get here?"
"No, is she okay?"
"We don't know. How soon can you get here?"
"IS SHE OKAY?"
"She is going into CAT scan now and she is alert."
"Come to the blue parking area and into Emergency."
I hung up the phone. By this point I was shaking. I stood by my desk and just stared around my room, and shook. I didn't know what to do, so I picked up my phone and with trembling fingers dialed my dad and with two word sentences, tried to tell my father that his granddaughter was rushed to Fairfax. Amidst my ramblings, I kept repeating, "I don't know what to do" and I felt myself seconds from falling apart completely. Then my mother's voice said, "Calm down, go get Danica, drive to the hospital." That was all it took. I knew then I was not allowed to fall apart, that I had to keep it together.
I quickly got dressed, tried to do something with my unruly, dirty, hair (Danica calls it a weave) and jumped in my car. Like a maniac, I pealed out of my gravel driveway and headed for Danica's school. While I was driving, my mind was in a thousand places. I looked at other people in their cars and wondered for the first time, where they were going and if their mission was anything like mine.
Now, more than ever, I felt very alone.
Once I got Dani from school, I placed her in the backseat and calmly told her the bare minimum. She started to pucker up and I hugged her and said it was going to be okay. I didn't believe those words myself and wondered how I would back peddle from that statement and how it would affect her emotionally if I had to. I wanted to believe what I said, but in my semi-rational mind I knew that being flown from a scene of an accident was NOT a good thing. I got in the car and we were on our way.
Hayley's father had spent the week in Morgantown working. I knew calling him would consist of me having to leave a message and him calling back when he could find a signal. Somehow I managed to leave a message that was calm with a simple, "call me back." My heart was breaking and I knew his would too once he found out. He called back while we were getting on I81 S. All I could tell him is what I knew, after that nothing was certain. I didn't know how he would get to Fairfax and I didn't know what I would find myself when I got there. He had work buddies with him and I hoped they would calm his fears and get him back safely...and they did.
Being alone inside my mind is often a scary place to be, and at that moment it was the most terrifying place ever. I reached out to a friend who I work with, partially to let her know I wouldn't be to work that night, but also because I knew she was a good Christian and I needed all the support I could get. When I talked, I didn't think, and when I didn't think, I couldn't fall apart. Besides my parents, Kim was my first set of shoulders I leaned on. She said she would pray...ahhh prayer, which will be another blog.