On Thanksgiving Day 2006, a little less than 2 months after my son Lulo was born, we were driving home from my parents' house to our house around 8 p.m. I had Lulo in one car, he was sleeping. J was driving a few cars ahead of me. I could no longer really spot his car but I knew he was ahead of me.
As is common in California, the traffic slowed and there were sudden red break lights. Immediately, I said to myself. "Oh, please God don't let that be Julio in an accident."
Five seconds later, I saw his car smashed against the center divider of the freeway. Cars avoiding his. Cars crashed around him.
I started to pull over to the right shoulder. Gasping for air. Grabbing my phone, I called him. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Voice mail. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. J says, "Hello? I can't find my glasses." He was fine.
Those 60 seconds were the worse, slowest most horrible in my whole life. Until, this Monday.
On Monday, I was working. It was 2:45 and my phone rang. It was my Dad. He sounded not good. His words were catching on his heart. I knew immediately something was terribly wrong. My thoughts shot to my aunt in the hospital.
I said, "what's wrong?"
He said, "They just called me from an ambulance. Your Mom has been in accident. I don't know anything. I am leaving the hospital now and going to the hospital they are taking her to."
I sat. Frozen. Do I go? Do I stay? What is happening? I sobbed.
What was I staying for? I would need to be there no matter what. Even if she was fine. Even if it was a fender bender. IT COULDN'T HAVE BEEN A FENDER BENDER. SHE IS IN AN AMBULANCE. SHE ISN'T TALKING TO MY DAD. THE PARAMEDICS ARE TALKING TO MY DAD.
Oh, I still have chills. My hair is still up.
I called my brother. Sobbing. We get off the phone. I call him back and tell him I am heading down. Neither of us can even think. We are irrational. We both leave work. We both go straight there.
The fear. That drive. Waiting for my Dad to call me and tell me everything was fine. NOTHING. NOTHING. The phone wouldn't ring. My brother and I talked the whole way. We are in shock. Horrified. So scared. I cry on and off. Wanting to speed but trying not to. I am sick still with that feeling of "if anything happened to her, I will die." He got there first. I made him promise to call me in 10 minutes. But 11 minutes pass. 12 minutes pass.
He calls to tell me that he has seen her. She looks terrible. Disoriented. Nothing broken. They are taking her in for a CAT Scan. He hasn't seen my Dad yet.
I get there and see my Dad first. He looks awful. But he tells me she is fine. He is in shock. So scared. Never seen him so scared. Vitals are good. Xrays show no broken bones. She is just scared and banged up, really banged up. Waiting for CAT Scan. Nothing there. Thank God.
Car is dead. She isn't. I love my Mom. I am so glad she is just bruised and hurting everywhere. There are still tears. So many. When I even think for one moment that she maybe wouldn't be here right now. That she maybe was not going to be able to kiss Lulo who adores her and asks about her every day...I cry all over again.
Thank you God for my Mama. My awesome mother, a special grandmother. That hour was the most excruciating wait I have ever had. It was worth every damn second for my beautiful mother still here, in one piece, ok. Thank you, God.