I've been traveling quite a bit for work lately. So, this past weekend I couldn't wait to get home and have a "normal" weekend with my kids. No unpacking, doing laundry till all hours of the night and then repacking for another trip. I was determined to enjoy our time together.
Jack had a soccer tournament that started Friday night. They won their first game, and Saturday morning we headed back out to Sport Port for the first of two more games. The good guys won 3-2, and were excited about their standings. As we loaded back into the car - Jack, Ella, and Jack's teammate Nick - I called my oldest son, Connor to tell him I'd be home in 20 minutes. I was hoping to spend a few minutes with him before he headed off to the Cardinal's game with a friend.
We turned onto the expressway and I came to a slow stop behind three cars at a red light. I glanced in my rearview mirror (a habit I'd picked up since I'd been rear-ended almost 10 years before), and had a moment of horrible deja vu'... A Ford Excursion was barreling down on us. It all happened within seconds - I turned my head to the right, and shot my arm out in front of Jack, who was sitting in the front passenger seat. I had no way to warn them, could do nothing to protect them. And then the squeal of tears, the impact, and all six air bags erupted in my Saturn Vue. The car filled with smoke from the airbags, and OnStar came over the speakers asking if everyone was okay.
I can't imagine how Connor felt when I called to tell him that I wouldn't make it home in time to see him after all. I imagine the same thought that went through my mind, went through his as well. What if? What if I hadn't been able to call? What if we just hadn't come home? While I talked to police officers, Jack stood on the side of the road holding his little sister. As I walked over to him, he leaned down, kissed the top of her head and whispered, "I'm so glad you're okay." Me too, buddy. Me too.
Thank God, my kids were okay. Minor scraps, a sprained wrist, a mild concussion, and sore neck were all the damage we sustained. The car was another matter - a total loss, the insurance adjuster told us later. I didn't care. Cars can be replaced.
This morning, five days after the accident, I stopped by my 10-year old's school for the Fall Fitness Day Pep Rally. I walked into a sea of red, white and blue. 700 kids from Kindergarten to 5th grade were dressed in their "team" colors. My son Jack, a fifth grader, wore blue from head to toe. Blue face paint, hair color and nail polish completed the look. The middle school band came over to play during the pep rally, which added to my pleasure, as my oldest son is in the band. Their little sister's Pre-K's class was also invited to join the festivities. She sat wide-eyed with her peers, hands clapping along to the music, looking around for her two older brothers, whom she knew were there - somewhere.
I stood with the other parents, watching each of my kids in turn. Connor, playing the clarinet, who knew I was there, but at 13, was not about to acknowledge me. Jack, who, when he saw that I was pointing my camera his way, lit up in a big grin, eager to show off his team spirit. And Ella, who waved me over every time our eyes met across the room.
As we all marched outside, Connor back to his middle school, Ella over to the PreK playground, and Jack, headed outside to battle the white and red teams, I soaked in the autumn sun, the cool breeze, and children's voices rising to a cloudless, blue sky. I raised my eyes upwards and whispered a "thank you." For the simple things, for the normalcy of it all. I am so blessed.