Friday, February 22, 2013

Facing Down My Fear

Last week there was a tragic story of a bright, 21 year old woman, on her way home from work.  Her car spun out of control and she died in the wreck which was so bad it shut down the expressway.  Her father was quoted in the paper reflecting, "I'm so glad I had a chance to tell her every day that I loved her."  Every parent's worst nightmare.

Imagine the irony for me when a few days later I went to a visitation at a funeral home for the elder parent of someone I know.   My husband and I couldn't find a parking spot anywhere near the place.  I was stunned to see a line of young people wrapped around the building....twice.  I stopped to ask if we were all visiting the same person.  No.  A young woman turned to me and said, "I don't know if you heard about the accident that shut down the expressway the other day.  This is for that girl."  My god.  Her parents were somewhere in that funeral home.  They were living through their worst nightmare.

My son will be turning 16 in a few months.  I've been making all sorts of excuses to avoid going to the DMV to get his permit so he can learn to drive.  I'm the giddy parent who stays up late at night looking forward to the phone call that it's time to pick up my son.  It's not an aggravation for me.  It's always a relief.  "At least he's not driving."  I freeze every time the phone rings early in the morning.  Is my daughter safe?  Did she have an accident on the way to work?  I know.  It's just me.  I do have reason to fear this.  My younger daughter had an accident on her way to high school.  She looked down to change the dial on the radio and slammed into a parked car on the side street.  The owner came out and told her he was calling the police.  She told him, "Oh, don't.  I've just called them."  She lied.  She had called us.  That gave us the opportunity to pay the owner gobs of money to repair his car and avoid legal troubles for my daughter and a spike in the insurance.   She lied.  Not smart.  But, I always thought she'd make a great attorney.   She lives in the city now.  She takes public transportation.

My older daughter called me in the middle of the night once when she was in high school.  The middle of the night.  "Mom.  I hit a police car and we're going to have to pay."  How's THAT for a call.  My husband and I drove to the scene of the accident.  On the way I was kicking myself for leaving my passport at home.   Damn.  That was the only thing keeping me from leaving the country.  My heart dropped as we approached the site.  HUGE lights were up as police were examing the scene.  What's happening?  Is my daughter ok?  I saw my old car that she was driving.  The minivan was crushed.  I had just put $700 into repairs.  Oye.  It turns out that she didn't hit the police car.  The police car hit her as she was turning.  He was answering a call for, "shots fired, " and was going down the street at a reckless speed.   She was wearing her seat belt.  Her car was pushed so fast, she nearly hit a lamp post, but she managed to hold on to the steering wheel.

Now it's my son's turn to send me over the edge.  I mean it.  I'm too old for this.  There's a funny You Tube video of a gal who says, "I ain't got no time for this."  That's how I feel.  Yet, the other day, I put my big girl panties on and asked my son if he wanted to try driving with me.  He looked up and quietly pulled on his jacket.  We went to a nearby cemetary.  I know...if anything happens, we don't have far to go.  Ha ha.  But I let him drive around the path.  He drove in reverse.  I told him to think of the geese in the road as people crossing the street while texting.  They're not looking at you.  It felt wonderful to be able to help my son grow. 

Blago's daughter turned 16 this year.  He wasn't there. I'm grateful that I can be there for my son.  I'll take him to the DMV, not because I want to, but because it's his right of passage as a young man, and I can be there to soak it in.