Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

I had a wonderful Mother's Day. We started the day by going to mass, then we headed to brunch with The Husband's mom at a Greek Italian restaurant. We had to wait a while to be seated, but the food was worth the wait. Yum! I've been severely restricting my sugar intake for the past month and it was heavenly to have dessert.

We then went to pick up my Mother's Day gift, which was a new treadmill. The Husband spent the better part of last night putting it together, and I got a nice 2 mile run in before bed.

I have three pretty great kids, so Mother's Day is a great day to be thankful for them. Bumblebee gave me a clay planter with chalkboard paint. She wrote "I love Mom" on it with chalk, and inside was a packet of flower seeds. We're going to plant them tonight. The Boy was helpful and did lots of chores for me yesterday, most of them without me asking. Hollywood gave me the following Mother's Day card - it might be hard to read, so you may have to click on it to enlarge it, but it's worth reading.
*scan of Hollywood's Mother's Day card:
Mother's Day Card 2010

I asked her if it was ok if I posted this on my blog and she agreed. She told me that she wanted my blog buddies to know that she's not a completely crazy and irresponsible teenager, since my last post was about the phone call from the sheriff. I told her that y'all already know that, but it's nice to showcase her thoughtfulness too.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Phone Call

Your dad and I were in the kitchen talking on a Friday night. The phone rang. I looked at the display and didn't recognize the number.

"Hello?" I answered.

"May I speak with Dustin, please?" a man said. I handed the phone to Dad. I watched his expression to see if this was a good or a bad phone call. When his face turned ashen, I felt my stomach clench.

He gripped the kitchen island with his free hand; grasping for solidity as the floor felt like it was buckling beneath him. I knew then, that something was terribly wrong. My eyes pleaded with his as I looked at him. I silently begged him to find a way to reverse whatever bad news he was receiving. I cursed myself for answering the phone, as if not hearing the news would somehow make it untrue.

The call was over in seconds. "It's Hollywood. There's been an accident," he choked out as he grabbed his keys. "She's being rushed to the hospital."

The drive to the hospital passed in a blur of prayers and faint attempts to reassure ourselves. Our hands were clasped together so tightly that a dull ache began to spread up my arm. But it was nothing compared to the pain in my chest. As dread grew within me, I felt as if my lungs were being squeezed in a vice.

We got to the hospital and were met by the paramedic who had brought you in.

"I'm sorry." he said as he looked with compassion into my eyes.

Those two words knocked me to the ground. I was on my knees, shaking uncontrollably. Your father knelt down; put his arm around me. As the world collapsed around us, our bodies crumpled into heaps on the rug of the ER waiting room.

They asked your dad to identify your body, but I insisted upon going along too. I remember hoping wildly that it wasn't you; that one of your friends had borrowed your car and it was someone else lying under a sheet in the hospital room.

Your face was puffy, battered and bruised, and you didn't look much like the fresh faced beauty who left the house earlier that night, excited to go to a bonfire with her friends. I knelt next to the bed and wept. Dad kept pacing back and forth. I couldn't tear my eyes away from your cross necklace. I thought about what it stood for - how you wore it with pride as a declaration for all of the new things you were discovering in your life.

Your unbelievably short life.

We had to plan your funeral. Your friends were distraught, but they helped us pick out the music to be played. Your boyfriend reminded us that the day of the accident had been your six month anniversary. His parents tried to comfort him, and they offered us whatever help they could give, but we couldn't be comforted or helped. Not now.

Your brother was numb; we couldn't get him to talk about his pain, and his eyes are troubled and cloudy. The storms that brew behind them, are visible at first glance. Your little sister is old enough to understand, but young enough to pretend that it's not happening. She will eventually realize that she can pretend no longer, and her wound will open up again; the pain of losing the sister she idolized will be fresh and raw.

For the service, we put together a slide show, using the pictures I had begun to catalog for your graduation montage. I thought the photo of you holding up a worm next to the lake in California would be shown to our families and friends as they congratulated you on your graduation day. Instead, we wept as we saw it, remembering the precocious toddler you once were.

There will be no trip to London after you graduate. No convincing your dad to wear a Hawkeyes shirt, since his daughter is a star student at the University of Iowa. No medical school. No white wedding dress on a spring afternoon. Your dad won't be walking you down the aisle. Instead, he will watch as all nine of your uncles crowd around your casket as pallbearers and walk you towards the hearse, waiting to drive you to your final place of rest.

Time will be measured by the accident for the rest of our lives. Memories will be cataloged in two eras: before and after the phone call that changed our lives forever.

This didn't happen, Thank God.

But we did get a phone call from the sheriff's deputy on Friday night. Hollywood had been reported for traveling at a high rate of speed and blowing through stop signs on the gravel road that leads to her boyfriend's house. So it could have happened.

During that phone call, I could feel my pulse beat in my throat. The blood pounded through me as I waited for The Husband to be done with his conversation and tell me what was wrong. We were relieved that he was calling to explain that a farmer had seen her drive like this on multiple occasions. Relieved because we could talk with her and withhold her driving privileges in the hopes that this might be the wake-up call she needs to avoid the kind of scenario that I've written about here.

I remember feeling invincible at sixteen. I also thought that I could control the situation as I drove too fast in my car. So while I am furious with my daughter for taking risks like these with her precious, cherished life, I can identify with her actions. But speeding on gravel roads and ignoring stop signs is reckless and dangerous, and these actions can't be allowed to continue.

I hope our discussion with her, along with the consequences she is now facing, will give her a look into the seriousness of the situation. Because I would never recover from her death. I'd get up and face each day, so I could be there for my other children, but I'd be withered and broken.