because there’s only one of you
As far as weeks go, that was a pretty rough one. Jackson was out of school half the week with strep throat. We had a hard time keeping anything in his little stomach, most of all the amoxicillin, which apparently tastes vile enough to be worth expelling the second he forced it past his esophagus. It took several days before he was well enough to go back to school, and on that day Jon and I tackled all the errands that had accumulated all week.
We were leaving a major shopping center with a car full of groceries when another car attempted to hop from one side of the strip mall to the other, crossing four lanes of traffic without stopping. I didn’t see her until she was four feet away and the next instant she barreled right into my side of the car. We spun 180 degrees and crashed into the curb on the other side of the intersection, stopping hard, while her momentum propelled her on into the Best Buy parking lot.
As soon as I could get out of my seatbelt, I jumped out of the car and wretched open Jon’s door. His carseat was directly behind mine, and although his drink from Moe’s had been splattered against the far window, he was secure in his carseat and unharmed. Several onlookers ran over to help me and soon we were surrounded by police and paramedics. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the front bumper and hood of the little sedan that hit us was completely pancaked.
I couldn’t see any damage to my RAV other than the blown-out rear tire, until I watched the police man pull out Jon’s car seat and carefully close the door. Then I saw the damage across the RAV, and realized the point of impact was inches from where my Jon had been sitting. No wonder I’d had trouble getting his door open! After that, I think I lost focus. I shook like a leaf and answered questions with chattering teeth until the police officer opened the back of his car and ushered Jon and I inside and out of the wind.
A few minutes later Caleb arrived. I’ve only been more happy to see him on the day he got home from Iraq. And of course, the minute he wrapped his arms around me I burst into tears, gestured toward my car sitting on the back of the tow truck, and wailed “His door! She hit his door!”
It was all very understandable and the onlookers nodded sagely like they’d been expecting such a meltdown. But they couldn’t know what really passed between us in the moment. What I really said to him, buried underneath the only phrase that could come out of my mouth, was You’re here! Not in Iraq. I need you and you’re here.
That made all the difference.