It Only Takes a Second

I woke up this morning at 6:30 and as I was stumbling toward the coffee pot, I was thinking about a  political story that I needed to write because there was information people might believe is important. Then I turned on the TV.

All I heard was the tail end of a story that said Route 60 was reopened after a fatal accident early this morning. My thoughts jumped straight to my kids, even though they were both still home with me.

Two weeks ago, my baby girl (who is almost 18) was driving her boyfriend’s truck home from a party. She was the designated driver because, even at her age, she has witnessed the impact of alcohol more than most people do in a lifetime. She lost her father to it. Her boyfriend had not been drinking, but had a sip of beer and did not want to chance driving no matter how little beer he had. My Mel would not have let him drive anyway.

It was about 10:45 and the kids were on Old Church Road when a buck bounded out in front of them. There was no time to react … and thankfully to God, she responded. She hit the deer instead of swerving into a tree.

It totaled the truck. The explosion-like sound of the passenger airbag was loud enough to temporarily deafen her when combined with the smoky blast … and shock. Her boyfriend John held on to her, stroking her face and arms … asking if she was alright, but she could barely see his lips moving.

They got out of the truck and her hearing was restored. She looked at the windshield, saw it shattered with a central impact point, and turned to John. She took her hands and started feeling his head and face. The deer had made the impact, but she thought it was John’s head. Even at the young age of 17 and 18, each of them was more worried about the other than themselves. They were both fine, and I believe they both now understand that they are not invincible.

Last week, my baby boy (who is almost 24) was driving down Route 60 to pick up dinner. He called me when he got to the restaurant and said to me, “Hey Momma … I got some good news, and some not-so-good news,” to which I replied, “Are you physically okay?”

“Yes, Momma,” he said.

“How bad is the truck?”

“Well, I think all it will need is a passenger headlight and a new grille … but there is one less buck in this world.”

Even though I heard his voice and knew he was fine, I didn’t relax until he got home 20 minutes later. The reason being … I am a mother … and I had my life forever changed by a buck looking for a doe in November of 1989.

One of the first things I started discussing with my kids when they were 9 or 10 (when I actually started teaching them to drive) was how important it is to scan for shiny eyes.

But I am able to sit here and explain this today because my babies are both okay. This leads me back to my morning.

I was in the process of reminding my baby girl to be careful on the way to school because I had just heard about a fatality on Route 60, when her phone started going crazy. Texts, IMs, calls. I thought, oh please no….

Melanie is a senior at New Kent High School. New Kent is still small enough where usually everyone knows everyone else. We have our disagreements, of course. But we also have a sense of community and care for one another that transcends differences, political or otherwise.

So when Melanie turned around, and her carefully applied mascara was streaming down her angelic face, my heart nearly stopped.

The young man that was in the fatal accident this morning was the boyfriend of one of Melanie’s friends. I know her friend, but I did not know her boyfriend. He graduated last year. He had his entire life yet to live.

I do not know what caused the accident. I find my thoughts focused on his parents as tears stream down my face, how no other day for the rest of their lives will ever be complete … and on how easily it could be, or could have been, one of my children.

The political story will wait.

All I can ask, even in this contested atmosphere of politics, is for everyone to say a prayer for this family, this community, and each other. Never let a day go by without telling your family and friends you love them.

Tomorrow is promised to no one.