Sunday, April 24, 2011

#4 The "other" mother.

I would like to back up a bit, to the time right before the end of my last blog. 

When we got home from Fairfax I made a phone call to Hayley’s teacher.  It was very late, but I knew he would answer the call.  Hayley had become an important fixture in his life, not only in class but also at home.  She has befriended his son and my daughter spent many hours at his house prior to this accident.  He told me that he thought of her as his own and I felt the need to bring him up to speed on all that occurred.  We talked a while, telling me all that he found out, assuring me that it was okay for Hayley and me to focus on her getting better and that he would take care of some other obstacles; such as her graduating.  I was grateful to have these worries taken from me, but I was also indebted for his never-ending support and care. 

My motivation to call him was more than wanting to give him a play-by-play; I needed to get the phone number of the driver, who was also a student of his.  He had been in contact with the driver’s mother, and told me that although the driver was able to leave the hospital and go home, she was hurting emotionally as well as physically and was blaming herself for what had happened.  I decided not to disturb the family that night, that they had been through enough and I knew a call from me would only stir it all up again; they deserved some peace.

When I laid my head down that night, intending for sleep which never really came, I found myself at the scene of the accident.  My view came from somewhere behind Hayley’s head.  I could feel the carefree moments seconds before the impact.  I imagined Hayley texting, as she always does, and I could see the back of Jess’s head.  Then looking through the windshield, I saw a car…and then black; the images looped again and again. I imagined that is what Hayley saw.  It would be days later before that vision became more accurate, when I knew the color of the infamous car, the direction of travel, the exact way it all happened through Hayley’s eyes.  Before I fell to “sleep” I thought again of Jess, as well as her mother and I knew that somewhere else another mother was having the same visions, only her viewpoint was different.  I expected she was also giving thanks and praying.


Another call to Inova.  Between Jason and me, we called seven times since the time we had left there and not once did they seem put-out.  Did I mention I love Inova nurses?

My next call was to Jess’s mom; the other mother.  My formal introduction seemed very much out of place considering.  To say Stephanie was an emotional wreck is sincerely an understatement.  She displayed all the grief and hurt that I had been holding back.  I wasn’t exactly sure how much thought she had put into this meeting, because I know her mind had been occupied with things that were occurring on her end of this tragedy.  I got the impression she was glad to her from me and I was relieved she embraced me so easily.  Our initial conversation was filled with, “How’s Hayley?”, “How’s Jess?” 

Jason and I wanted to get back to Inova as quickly as we could but also wanted to retrieve Hayley’s belongings from the car.  The nurses said that music would be nice for Hayley while she was sedated, so our goal was to get her Ipod.  Stephanie and I planned to meet at the towing lot.

By the time we got there, Stephanie and Jess were already there.  I eagerly jumped out of the car and right into Stephanie’s arms.  We held each other; thanking God our children were spared.  I remember looking at her face for the first time and seeing true pain coming through eyes that had observably been crying non-stop.  I envied her that she could do that and not collapse in a pile on the ground.  I held mine in because I knew, without a doubt, that once I let it go, there would be no reigning it back in. 

Jess was in the car, once I saw her face I remembered her being in my home tagging along after Hayley up the steps to Hayley’s room.  I touched her knee, afraid of hurting her, hugged her the best that I could and told her not to blame herself anymore, “everything will be okay.”  Even though I said the words, I knew in my heart she was not going to walk away from this without deep emotional injuries.

As it turned out, we were at the wrong lot and unbelievably they were closed.   Jason made a few calls finding the right lot and the owner’s wife graciously agreed to let us in.  I entered the lot with Stephanie by my side, supporting each other  I glanced at what I knew was Jess’s car with the entire front end smashed in all the way to the firewall and my heart started hammering, but before I could get closer the owner’s wife pointed to the car at fault.  From the front the car appeared normal.  I cautiously began to walk to the passenger’s side and was floored by what I saw.   The entire passenger’s side was smashed, the door had been cut away and the seat had been compacted by half.  I heard a loud wailing and reached for Stephanie before I realized that the noise was coming from me.  We held each other and cried over and over, “oh my God, oh my God”, as the reality and the magnitude enveloped us.  I learned the true meaning of grace that day.

Stephanie, Jess, Jason and I wrapped up with the belongings business.  Before we headed back down to Inova, I hugged Jess, holding back to avoid hurting her, and then held Stephanie.  Never had I felt such an immediate connection with another human and I knew, somehow even at that point, Stephanie and I would always have a bond that it would later turn into a friendship; and it did.

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