It is one of those days, sent from Heaven to reassure us that winter does not last forever (or possibly from the Other Place, to lull us into thinking it is spring already!) After some morning fog, the sky is clear blue, with temperatures in the high 60’s, a perfect day to be out & about.
The guys headed off early to do some work for a woman in the Bay Area with an equestrian farm; Chris is refurbishing an older trailer for her to use at horse shows, & Sam is doing some sanding, painting, & general repair work around the barns. This has been such a blessing, coming just as Chris’ hours have been cut back & Sam needs to pay for driving school; in the past 2 weekends, they’ve made enough to cover all the shortages for the month, & extra to bank for our vacation.
I drove into San Jose to see Jessica; tomorrow is her 22nd birthday, she has just moved into a new place & wanted to have her cat back (oh, darn!) It’s been a rough week for her, first with her rabbit dying & then having to spend a couple of days in the hospital- she developed a raging case of tonsillitis, which ended up nearly shutting off her throat. She was going to drive down here, but I suggested that I bring Violet to her since she’s still recovering- besides, I don’t know if she can drive legally; her license was suspended at one point & her insurance was cancelled for non-payment.
My daughter is living proof that God looks out for fools & children; she has a new roommate- a young woman with a 6 year old son- who is basically supporting all of them. Jess watches the little boy while Mom is at work & takes care of cooking, does some dog training on her own for some cash, & is expecting to get hired back at her old job next month, so everyone seems to be happy with the arrangement. The apartment is small, but clean, & located in a reasonably safe part of the city; I just hope Jess sticks with her current “neat & tidy” phase, because she can be a real slob.
Anyway, I’m cautiously optimistic that Jessica is on the road back to a stable life, but it will be a long time- if ever- before we allow her access into our lives & home again.
Today is the 7th anniversary of the event that changed each of us, shaking & testing our foundations, & I hope made us stronger. It started out like every other school morning- a rush to get everyone up, bathed, dressed, fed, & off to school, before heading to work- the only difference was Sam had a big project to turn in. Here in California, when the kids are in 4th grade, they do a social studies unit on the Spanish Missions, culminating in building a scale model of one of the missions & presenting an oral report. Today was Sam’s turn, so he headed out to school early on his new bicycle he received for his 10th birthday 2 weeks before, to make sure the classroom was opened & I followed 10 minutes later, with his mission model in my car.
I pulled out of our court onto the connecting street leading to the main avenue, & found a line of cars two blocks long & people milling around the intersection. I knew it had to be an accident, since I had seen so many close calls at this spot- four lanes, one block from a stop light & ½ a mile from the high school; even though there is a marked pedestrian cross walk, kids & parents speed down this street without looking, rushing to get to the school. As I inched up towards the first driveway to turn around & go another way, I saw a woman standing at the corner, looking around; I didn’t know her- not surprising in a town of over 70,000- but suddenly she made eye contact with me, & I knew- it was Sam.
I jumped out of my car, leaving it running (but fortunately put in park), & ran as fast as my 5’4”, 200 lb frame would allow (pretty darn fast, if I do say so myself). I found Sam lying in the crosswalk, still astride his bicycle, & surrounded by several women, one of them crying hysterically. When he saw me, he starting crying & trying to get up- I held him down & got right up in his face, telling him to be still- Mom’s here now & everything is okay. He was shivering, even though he was in a heavy coat & jeans, so I put my coat around him & called for some one to bring blankets. About that time, the paramedics arrived, followed by the police, & things got a little fuzzy. They checked him for head injury first- fortunately, he had been wearing his helmet- & then carefully removed the bike while I held his head in my lap. They began feeling him down & asking him questions about pain, but he was going into shock & wasn’t too coherent; he yelped when they touched his left leg, & when they cut his jeans back, it was obviously broken. Next thing I knew, I was standing up & heading to the curb to throw up; when I came up for air, I found one of the women from my church standing there, holding me & telling me she’ll stay with me.
The police were there, asking questions & taking statements; I saw the crying woman sitting in one of the patrol cars & realized she must have been the one who hit him. I went over to the car & she apologized thru her tears- she didn’t see him, all of a sudden he was in front of her & she couldn’t stop; I told her “It could have been anyone of us here- that intersection is a death-trap.” Evidently, Sam had been waiting at the crosswalk on his bicycle; the car in the curb lane stopped to let him cross & he began to ride across- the woman in the center lane didn’t notice the car stopped & kept going, seeing Sam at the last second as he rode in front of her. She hit the brakes & almost stopped in time, but bumped him & laid him over in the crosswalk- it snapped both bones just below his knee, but other then that, he didn’t have a scratch on him.
The paramedics loaded Sam into the ambulance & my friend offered to drive me to the hospital; while we were driving, she called her work to tell them what had happened. It turned out that her assistant was in one of my bible studies, & is married to one our board members, so of course knew who Sam was- she offered to call the school for me, & then called our pastor. He & his wife- a nurse- arrived at the hospital about 30 minutes after we did; Pastor called Chris & his wife went in the emergency room with me. What a comfort! She explained everything that was happening to Sam, which calmed him down quite a bit, & they both stayed with us until Chris arrived & Sam was taken to surgery. He spent 2 days in the hospital & I stayed with him while Chris took care of things at home. A week later, Sam had to go back to surgery to have 2 pins & a rod put in, & spent 10 weeks in a hip-to-toe cast; the main concern was the break was in his growth plate & there was a chance of uneven growth later, but God is good, making Sam resilient & delaying his main growth spurt a couple of years.
When things like this happen, often the strain causes couples to fracture & drift apart- it happened in my first marriage, when Robb was burned in a boating accident (we were divorced within a year)- but it caused Chris & I to draw closer together. He was my rock & support when the stress & worry would overwhelm me; I was his sounding board as he talked through the stirred up memories & loss he never dealt with from his father’s death. Both of us gained a fresh appreciation of the precious gift of our son, & Sam learned that his Mother doesn’t harp on those rules for no reason at all.
This morning, I looked at my tall, straight, strong golden son, my heart full of gratitude & my spirit with humility; I believe God has something wonderful in store for him, a greater purpose that He has planned from the beginning & I hope I have the courage to watch it unfold & let him go.