I did something really stupid. One of those “It could have changed my life” stupid things. Something that you may see yourself doing. It’s something I’ll never expect to happen to me again. Writing about it is my therapy. So here goes.
As a columnist I sometimes feel criticized for sounding like a “know it all” or being too judgmental. I’ve tried to keep my tone light, poking most of my barbs at myself. This in one time where I’ve no doubt to be the brunt of a few judgments, criticisms and possibly, a few jokes. Although I won’t be laughing.
My neighbors saw it happen. They all know that I plan to “beat myself up in print” and no one argued me against it. Even Ann, my therapist on hand that fateful Friday morning, could barely hide the large O her mouth had formed as she watched my car head toward her son’s bedroom window.
It was a typical Friday morning although I had risen a little earlier than usual to get a load of whites done before work. Samantha’s lunch was made; my plain yogurt and fruit Tupperwared. I woke her up, helped her with her morning “toiletries” and got her out of the house, so far, on time.
As I barked orders into the back seat to get her seat belt on and leave her window alone I remembered my perishable lunch was still resting on the kitchen counter. I didn’t even think about it being four long strides away from the car. I started the engine (A habit I had gotten into of late now that my dear old Honda was over ten years old.) and instructed my only child to “stay in her seat” while I ran inside the house. Just four strides.
Samantha knew the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf well and so did I. So this time her long, worried sounding cry, was decidedly different from the ones she used when she wanted me to retrieve a particular Barbie form the dim recesses of her toy box. Thank God her voice sounded different. I ran the four steps back to my garage in time to watch her jump out of my moving vehicle. Another, louder, THANK GOD escaped from my heart to my tiny brain. We watched together in shocked horror as her open door took out a short brick wall and a very heavy metal mailbox. Then the car arced around backing up over the curb and proceeded downward with only my neighbor’s car and house in its path. I jumped in and pulled the emergency break back up the inch or two that it was missing and stopped it completely.
I was shook, Samantha, in six-year-old wisdom, was quick to report that at least she wasn’t dead. Ann picked up my mailbox out of the street, tried to replace the brick wall and then offered to drive Sam to school for me. All this while I drove my car, with its driver side doors stuck open, back into the before presumed safety of my garage. Then I was finally able to sweep Samantha into a tight embrace unable to escape what might have happened to her.
Ann calmed me down telling me that that was the third time our mailbox had been ripped out. Ryan, the young driver up the street, was oh so thrilled to have the heat taken off his driving record. Eddie assured me that he was not angry (He hadn’t seen the damage yet and added Sam into the mental picture.) but just wanted to make sure that we were both okay.
AAA has since totaled my car. I don’t feel exactly deserving of a new car. I even chose the smallest, most inexpensive, blender sounding, rental car. My every faithful and trusty mechanics at PACC auto reminded me that I was planning on getting a new car this year anyway. They suggested another model Honda that I might like just as well.
AAA then advised me to go down to Santa Clarita Collision to pick up my personal belongings. I filled a musty cardboard box with Samantha’s books, the new state quarters I was collecting for Ed in the ashtray, melted lipsticks, toothpicks, gum and all of my cassettes. I wanted to listen to my Madame Butterfly or Samantha’s Shrek but decided to leave it all in the box, in the middle of my traitorous garage until I decided what I would ever park there.
Only a week ago we read about another local couple that lost their only child in an accident spookily similar to this one. Eddie wondered how they got on when all we can offer to them are our heartfelt prayers. It’s been a week since my accident and I’m still shook. But like a lawsuit against cigarette makers that helps other smokers to quit, I chose to bear my embarrassed soul to you Signal readers.
None of us are exempt from making foolish, costly mistakes. My mom, of course, said that’s why they call them “accidents”. I’m supposed to learn from it, that’s all. I was counting on taking a few of you readers with me on this one, en masse, so we might all learn something.
Samantha, in the meantime, loves to tell the story. Her favorite part, as you can guess, is how she says she almost died. I almost die every time I hear her say it. Especially when my boss had to remind me that getting out of the slow moving vehicle might not have been the best choice. I had to ask Sam that: What might have happened had she gotten out of the car when it got closer to the brick wall, mailbox, curb or neighbors house? She gulped and said that staying in the car, although it won’t happen in mommy’s car again, would be the best thing to do in a very bad situation. God willing there won’t be a next time for any of our children.