The memory that sticks out from my childhood is not a pleasant one. It is the memory of the car accident that could have killed my Mom.
I was 12 years old. My Dad was on a business trip and my Mom was supposed to stop at a (now extinct) fast-food drive-through for dinner. She was supposed to be home at 6pm at the latest. I waited and waited and waited. This was before cellphones were more rare. There was nothing my father and I could do but sit and continue to wait.
My neighbors rang my doorbell. They said my Mom had been in a car accident and the police called them to tell me instead of the police calling me directly so that I would be even more upset. I gathered a few things because I was going to spend the night at my neighbor’s house. When I crossed the street and went inside their house, my friend (a guy who was one of my best friends) was told by his mom that was in an accident, she was OK, I would be spending the night with them, and that she was going to take me to the hospital right now to see her. I remember his jaw dropping. I remember getting into her car but I don’t remember the ride to the hospital.
The next thing I remember is standing next to her bed in the ER, watching her trying to calm me down even though blood was steadily trickling from the corners of her mouth. A good amount of teeth had been knocked out. She had a broken ankle. Needless to say she was pretty banged up. It turns out that it was her truck’s fault. It malfunctioned. The car suddenly sprinted forward and the breaks stopped working at the same time. It dragged my mom through the concrete divide of a then department store. The only thing that stopped her was a huge pile of concrete.
I blocked a lot of what happened out.Lady Gaga once said that traumatic events get locked away in a file box in your brain. I definitely boxed mine up and sent it far, far away. Dorothy leaving Kansas and crash landing into OZ type of distance, that’s how far I buried it. “My mom didn’t die, she needs help. I have to learn how to cook better, dad still has business trips and mom’s on sick leave, how am I supposed to keep up with my grades during all of this” is what I thought pretty much every day. Finally, I just stopped caring about my grades the first semester when she had her accident and flunked three classes. I raised them and passed to the next grade so that I wouldn’t be stuck in 6th grade again.
No one to this day knows what I was really going through during that time. All I can really say is that I blocked a lot of it out, the worry worry worry, the stress, the anxiety, and the sadness.In the end, I was blessed that I did not lose my mom. I still can’t think about the chaos that would have occurred if she did. You really do have to appreciate your blessings while you still have them.