Monday, August 18, 2014

This Fragile Mindset

A Saturday afternoon at the beach with a friend and her small boys was a welcome day out for me. I enjoyed having only one small bag and a towel to carry while she wrangled her one and three year old out of the vehicle, balancing sand pails and towels, toys and snacks, with a drink in one hand and her keys in the other. Of course, I helped her after a moment of gratitude that I was so lightly loaded. As we sat on the beach and the boys ran around and chased birds and dug holes, I was reminded of the many times I'd sat on this same beach with my boys, not many quiet moments, no time alone and certainly no use for the books I would always somewhat optimistically bring along. For me, it was one of those "when the boys are bigger..." type days. I could swim alone. I could lay on my towel. I could play and build sandcastles but I didn't have to change sand filled diapers or eat sandy chips or have a juice box squirted down the front of my shirt.

After an afternoon of sand consumption, ice cream and digging, we made our way out to our vehicles. My friend strapped in a sleepy baby boy and seat belted in his wailing brother who wanted nothing to do with leaving the beach.  Her family all secured, I in my quiet car alone, we began the hour long drive back through the country to the city. It's a particularly pretty drive this time of year with the fields nearly ready for harvest. I often turn off the radio and just open the windows and enjoy the ride. Just about 3/4 of the way home, I was coming up on a minivan that had turned onto the highway a few miles ahead of me. As country roads beckon you to, we were both doing at least a few km over the speed limit, which was 80 and then turned to 100 right around where things went sideways. 

I was still about a quarter mile behind the van when I saw a woman fly into the ditch, rolling. I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought that she was a pedestrian who had been hit by the van, who was now pulling to the side of the road. I quickly pulled in front of the van and jumped out and ran towards the ditch. The driver of the van was calling 911 as I ran by him.  After assessing and addressing some of her injuries, and stabilizing her until the ambulance came, it turned into a long conversation with a distraught young mom.  As it turns out, she had made the 'decision' to get out of the van because she and her partner were arguing in front of her three small boys. She was overwhelmed by her physical pain at times but more so by her anguish at having subjected her boys to the trauma of seeing their mother jump out of a moving vehicle. There's not much you can say when you're listening to someone lament their decisions that have affected young children. My friend and her boys sat in their vehicle, just ahead of the accident scene, and I just couldn't imagine what on earth allows one mother to have the kind of afternoon we'd just had at the beach, while another is launching herself out of a vehicle to escape a barrage of accusations that you can't refute. Lying beside her in the ditch, my clothes bloodied and my words inadequate, I wanted to weep with her. I just kept her still and trying to keep her comfortable as possible when lying on the stubbled ground with road rash on every conceivable part of your body.

As the ambulance and police arrived and she was taken to the hospital, I was left with my bloodied clothing, blankets from my vehicle and about another 20 mins till home. I drove carefully, watching the ambulance in my rear view mirror and offered up some disjointed prayers - for her, for her boys, her partner, for the paramedics and for the doctors. And then, for myself. And then I approached the road where I turn off towards home and my friend keeps on straight,  we waved out the window and then I started to cry and shake. I started to cry thinking about how I was going to get in the house with bloody clothing and past my own boys without answering questions. I couldn't figure it out and it felt insurmountable so I texted, while driving, my husband at home to meet me in the driveway in 5 mins. I probably pulled into my driveway around the same time that the ambulance pulled into the ER at the University Hospital. I was met with a hug and concern and care and I hope she received the same.

I don't know that I'll ever know how this young mom made out or which way her life leads her. I do know that her name is embedded in my mind and that she'll remain in my prayers for a long, long time. I choose to be hopeful for her because she wasn't able, in those moments, to muster hope for herself. 







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