Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Don't get it wrong

Time to exhale.

I needed that. Today started at 5:30 a.m. when I got the call. Hubby had to work overtime, he told me. That meant the morning was all mine. That meant getting two sets of kids to two different schools was -- all mine. Along with the lunches and the diaper bag and the socks and the shoes and my own shower and makeup. It was all mine. But, today was also the day our new kitty, Cole, had to be dropped off at the vet by 8. Before the sun was up, I was already rolling my eyes at the day before me.

I didn't want it. "Wednesday: I'm not feeling you. Can you please be Saturday today?" Nope. Wednesday would not budge and so, I pushed through. By the time I made it to work, it was 8:27 a.m. Perfect timing. Kind of. I realized that I had a meeting in, oh, three minutes.

That's how my day started. One big colorful blur of just stuff to do.

By 4 p.m., and after skipping lunch, I was over the day and ready to give it back. "I'm done with this one. I'd like Thursday now."

But, Wednesday was not done with me.

I left work and headed for my daughter's school. I was probably 30 seconds away from pulling into the school parking lot when I saw a white Navigator barreling off the side of the road -- through a series of ditches and then, SMASH full force, head on into a tree.

I slowed and, realizing the severity of what had just happened, pulled the mom van over, parked on the shoulder of the road and ran over to the truck -- while dialing 911. The car was mangled and when I peered into the driver's side, I saw a man, probably in his 50s, with gray hair. But, I couldn't see his face. It was buried in the blood-covered air-bag. And he wasn't moving.

Another man, another passerby, called to the man. "You OK?" Meanwhile, the 911 operator was asking me to stay on the line. "Help is on the way. Stay with us. Someone's coming," the man said.

It was so awful. I thought he was dead. And then he lifted his head and peered up. "They're coming to help you right now, OK?" I said to him. He was wearing dress pants and a button-up shirt. He looked dazed, confused. "What is your name?" I asked him. He muttered something, but I didn't understand. "Do you have children?" I asked him.

"Four," he said. "Four kids."

It hurt me to look at him -- the blood was everywhere and still oozing from his face.

"Do you have a wife?"

"Yes," he said. I asked him her name. "It's Malala ... ."

He was slurring his words. Not making sense. "Let me call her," I said. The numbers didn't make any sense. "352-54-1903," he'd say, missing numbers along the way. Finally, he gave me a number that made sense and when I called it, a woman answered.

"Do you have a family member who drives a white Navigator?" I asked her.

"Excuse me? Um, yes. My husband does."

"He's OK," I said. "But, he's been in a pretty bad accident." She was there within minutes. By the time she arrived, the paramedics were pulling him out of the mangled mess on a stretcher. She ran to be by his side and was told to back up. "That is my husband," she yelled between sobs. "I will not back up."

I placed my hand on her back. "He's OK," I told her. "He was talking to me. But they need to get him out."

The car was completely mangled -- caved in on one side. And as they pulled him out, she melted in tears. "Oh God," she cried. "What happened? What happened?"

By this time, traffic had been completely stopped; there was a slew of onlookers. I stood there shivering, wearing only jeans and a t-shirt when an officer made his way to my side. He asked for my information so they could call me later since I witnessed the accident.

As I walked away, the wife stopped me. "Are you the woman who called me?" she asked. I nodded yes. "And you called 911?"


"Thank you," she said kind of breathlessly. "Thank you so much." I told her that if she needed anything to give me a call and I slipped her my business card. For a few moments, our paths converged and right around 4:30, we went our separate ways again.

As I was pulling away, the emotion of the moment gripped me. All I knew is that someone had been hurt, and I was able to help -- even if it was just by making a phone call. I thought about my own life and said "God, I want to help people. I don't know how. But, give me the people who need help and I promise to help them."

I thought about how I had rolled my eyes at the day earlier. How I wanted to give it back. But now I was seeing a tiny sliver of the bigger picture: that instead of trying to give my days back, I need to be trying to give back during my days. And that it's not all about me. And if I ever think that it is, I'm getting it wrong.

Tomorrow, I am not going to get it wrong. Will you?


  1. Major, major chills while reading this. How powerful and amazing. Its clear you were meant to be where you were at that exact place and time to help this man and his wife. I'm sure you are holding hubby and your little ones a bit closer tonight.

    On a lighter note, I apparently missed the Facebook update on the kitten's name- so glad I could help- hooray for Cole!!

  2. E: That is so funny about the name Cole. I posted it on FB, but there must have been a glitch because after I posted it, no one said a word. I thought no one liked the name. Ha ha. We actually LOVE the name and love him!