Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nightmares and the Need for Sweet Dreams

One of my goals for this weekend was to write a post about some books that made me smile. Instead, I spent most of it reading books that made me cry. Or maybe, crying anyway, and using books to keep me from focusing too much on the reasons why. Either way, I will have to get you all the smiley stuff later, because the tears took precedence. 

So, my 16 year old was in an accident Friday night. He is uninjured. Everyone is uninjured. The other car is undamaged. His car is totaled. Really, totally totaled.

He'd just left to head into town and I was on my way out to a friend's house for dinner. My phone rang with his special ringtone (Yaz's "Don't Go" because a) I'm that old and b) I don't always like having a son this old) and I was a little put-off, knowing he would be on the freeway and obviously we're not so encouraging of him using his phone while he is driving. He was on the freeway, all right. Standing on the shoulder and saying, "Mom, I had an accident."

He was changing lanes. There was a monster truck in his blind spot - specifically, its big ol tire. Then his car was spinning, and he was slamming head-on into the barrier, and meeting his air bag up close and personal. 

He doesn't remember all the details, except that it seemed to go on for a long time. And then there was the acrid smell, orange flames under the hood, gray smoke in the car.

The truck driver pulled over - he and his passenger were fine, his tire seems to be fine (though it sure left a lot of rubber on D's car door.) They made sure D was fine - he is. Even his violin, which was in the back seat (he was on the way to a performance) was still in tune. The police, tow truck, and fire truck were all on the scene before I managed to babble something semi-coherent and vaguely reassuring to K and get there myself. 

I was relieved to see him standing beside the car when I pulled onto the shoulder myself. The paramedics had already cleared him, and the fire truck pulled away shortly after I arrived. There was almost literally not a scratch on him, but there is a little scrape on his knee. And some skin burn from the airbag, but that faded quickly. Fading not so quickly - my fear reaction, R's fear reaction, D's fear reaction.

The police helped us clear off to a nearby parking lot where the exchange of information and so forth happened, and I got my first good look at what deployed airbags and a crumpled frame looks like. 

Hooray for Honda, I have to say. We got this car new in 2003, and R drove it just a little while before I claimed it, so it was my car, my baby, until January when I got my Honda hybrid & passed it on to D. Kind of rough to see it all destroyed like that, and silly of me to imagine it sacrificing itself to keep D safe, but I can't help feeling it. That car was a dragon protector, and I love it for shielding my baby. 

I still remember one of our first drives in it, when he was 7, sitting in the back seat, his brother's booster seat beside him, and I told him that when he was older it would be his car. He was so proud when it became his - laughing as he cleaned out all my various hair clips and books and whatever and putting his own crap in there.

Now all that crap is in my trunk, where we stashed it after dropping the wreck at the collision center, knowing that we were likely to never see it again. Sight unseen, the insurance agent said it was 99.8% sure to be totaled. If he'd seen it, I think the odds would have been higher. 

After cleaning it out, I drove D downtown for what was left of his performance. Passing the scene of the accident, seeing bits of his tire on the road - it was not easy, for either of us. D's adrenaline high crashed when we talked about his driving again, and among other things he said he thought the time he blew a tire on the way to the DMV was going to be the worst of his teenage boy unfortunate driving experiences. We agreed that this one is more than enough to get him through high school, and hopefully college. 

The next day at 6 am, I put D into a stranger's car for a 4 hour drive into the country (scout thing) and R and I alternately texted him and asked each other if we'd heard from him until he called in the afternoon to check in. The reception was spotty, but hearing him was vital to me. Like us, D was going through a lot of "what-ifs" by then, and since he was the one with the spinning and the smoke and the impact, I imagine it was even worse for him than it was for us. I mean, maybe. Because he knew he was okay, and yes, I also knew he was okay, but did I mention that this boy is my baby? That he is so amazing and vital and essential to my existence, and he had an accident and it could have... It might be worse, the stuff going on in his head. But I think the stuff going on in my head is plenty bad enough.

So Friday night, Saturday night - not a lot of sleep. I stayed up most of Saturday night reading (and crying - lots of cathartic tearful things happening in Robyn Carr's work, I've found.) Once he got home safely on Sunday (and I dosed myself up with some bedtime tea Sunday night) I slept a little better, but still with the nightmares. It's getting better. I cried when talking to D about trying to balance my need to wrap him a cocoon with my logical side's argument that he was going to have to drive again someday soon. I cried when writing to my friends about this. I cried last night watching a tv mom see the wrecker towing her tv daughter's car. I cried just now.

We are insanely lucky that he is okay. He was unhurt. No one else's person or property was hurt. But I am going to keep crying periodically. I am going to have some weird sad scary dreams for a while, and I think D will, too. And R. And K, too. (My sweet empathetic K has been quite the dispenser of giant hugs lately. That boy rules.) I really, really want my family to have sweet dreams again. 

I hope you all have sweet dreams, always. 


  1. Oh! Mel, I cried just by reading this and feeling just what you must have felt. It reminded me of my several car accidents I've been involved, some not so bad, some horrible!
    Living that again, made me really scared and sad. But Thanks God time is the best cure and I am sure you will feel better soon.
    Love you! Claudia

    1. Thanks, Claudia. Sorry to make you relive, it is something I am sure I will do too much myself.
      love you too.

  2. I didn't join in your tears, but reading this post, I could certainly empathize.
    It may actually happen sooner for mothers, but from the moment of our children's birth, fathers lives are completely changed. The health and happiness of our offspring immediately becomes significantly more important than anything affecting ourselves.
    It works the same for grand-kids - nieces and nephews, not so much - (I still love you, though). That is a good thing; otherwise we would sit and worry endlessly, and never be able to function.