But, today, we were on our way home from a pleasant morning at the park when I was rear-ended at an intersection. There was a tremendous crash and bump, and Alex immediately issued a blood-curdling scream. This scream was not unlike the blood-curdling scream I myself gave two days ago when a tree frog jumped on my back while I was sitting on the ground outside. Alex screamed and cried, Andy asked what that bump was, and I went into mild panic mode, pulling off to the side, and grabbing my phone, which was handy, because I had been texting while driving only a short while ago.*
Andy and Alex won't remember this car accident, which, so very fortunately, boils down to an irritating inconvenience. I remember my first accident, though. I was five or six at the time, and we were in my mother's Monte Carlo, which my parents still talk about even today. "That was a great car," my dad likes to say, as if fondly remembering an uncle. He wasn't in the car at the time- it was just my mother, me, and my sister. Just like it was only me, Andy, and Alex today. The similarities end there, though. The total destruction of the Monte Carlo was a family tragedy, and the three of us were lucky to walk away. My mother hit the trailer end of a truck on a four lane highway, and the Monte Carlo went spinning off into the opposite lanes until we were facing the opposite direction. I remember my mother screaming and my little sister crying. And I remember Marcia and I were both cut up on our faces a little, Marcia around the eyes, and that my mother's knee ballooned out into a huge purple bruise. The Monte Carlo's front gaped like an unhinged, crumpled monster. And it felt like we were there forever at the scene of the accident, my mother using the land line at the nearby laundry mat for hours on end, calling and recalling my father, as this was the era where we didn't need to use the distinction of "land line." There were no cell phones. Dad wasn't home, and he didn't know what was going on until he drove past us, on the way home, and saw the wrecked, former beauty of the Monte Carlo.
The accident shook me to my core at the time, and when I couldn't sleep that night, I remember the flickering glare of my mother's bedroom TV when I went to seek her out. I'm quite positive that she told me that we were lucky to be alive, which was a terrify notion to me at the time. What did she mean, lucky to be alive??? Was the concept of mortality and close calls something that I was supposed to have a rational handle during the kindergarten year? I must have gotten over it, though, because it wasn't until today that the memory came back to me, in stunning colors. The purple of her bruised knee. The taupe of the laundry mat phone. The blue flicker of the television. The brown beard of the truck driver. The gray of the very lax car seat laws of 1985.
Today, my children were fine. Alex calmed down after I pulled over, opened his car door, and stroked his face. Andy was totally fine and thrilled to see a real live police officer and the friendly face of his classmate's awesomely kind mother, who just happened to be driving by and decided to check to see if we were okay. We waited patiently for the police report to be written up, and then I got back into my smooshed up car and drove us home, where Alex promptly slept the whole thing off and Andy skipped lunch in favor of using the iPad and having a PediaSure. Like any other normal day!
I am very grateful that our accident was minor and that my children are okay. I don't ever want to hear Alex's scared scream again, though. And I want to always have the strength I need to take care of business during difficult events, and to stay calm and not make things unnecessarily frightening for my kids. I don't know for sure if I have all of that in me, but I think I do, and I'll try my hardest.
Now on to the fun adventure of driving a rental car! The backseat of which is about to get so sticky and trashed, it will be considered downright unbelievable.
*Kidding! I don't text while driving, although it's quite possible the girl that hit me today was doing just that.