“No. NO! Don’t do that!” Breaks screech. Two cars colliding crumple metal easier than you would think. 45 miles an hour halts really quick when a supposed-to-be-yielding car rams into your child’s drivers’ side headlight, door, back door. There’s loud then a pop then not loud, ringing then mumblings. Why does my neck sting? This door won’t open. What did ONSTAR just ask? Ambulance, yes.
There are tears and arms waggling.
“Just look at my eyes.”
Calm Katie…be calm Katie. “Babe, just look at my eyes” I say again.
We sit in the grass with backs to the intersection where two cars drain fluids. The vehicles seem to sigh with relief, done being weapons and, thankfully, saviors. With ringing in my ears, I answered questions about which lane, color of stop lights and if I can make medical decisions for the minors in the car. Staring at the first responders faces for signs that I should FREAK THE F OUT! They were stoic and calm faced but had so many questions for such ringing ears. Through the hubbub, the 20 questions were muted, muffled like a dream. What focused me was a shaking friend nestled in my left arm and my dear one grasping for comfort/pause/truth in my right.
Crying Katie? Okay, you can cry but STEADY is your name now.
My husband calls and big brother shows up with hugs to give and a hand to hold. My new name turns to mush. Turns out the questions I answered came out muffled too. Almost answering them with words that kept eluding me but calm…I was…I thought I was calm. The reinforcements came and inside of me steady was able to rest like the totaled cars. Sigh.
Listen, if this is not your first time reading my stuff then you already know that I have a need to attach meaning to things. I can find joy, reason, even deepness in a baby praying mantis’ shadow. I don’t require a ton to work with. So, my first real car accident with my real-life offspring driving a now mangled car wants to scream meaning at me.
Scrolling through Instagram a handwritten note stands out. It says, “Sometimes love sounds like ‘we can figure this out together.’” Meaning! I’ve found you! We are in this together could be one of the most soothing things for me to feel. Maybe that’s why I need to sort gritty moments with loved ones sooner before later. That’s why I can feel steady in moments of uncertainty if I feel connected. Maybe, I needed to look into my daughter’s eyes just as much as I thought she needed to connect with mine to calm down in those moments after the accident.
So many happenings in life, even when they are endured alone, become bearable with a witness. Grief is a little less dark when someone else knows you’re in it. Goodness hangs on a little longer when held by others. The sting of pain is more ready to fade once its shared. Although joy can burst life on its own it multiplies when more people acknowledge it.
What I’m saying is this: We got in a wreck. I didn’t like it! Being connected to loved ones repeatedly shows up in moments to remind us that we are in this together. We will figure this out together. We will. So, the next time you are being the one whose name is Steady don’t forget that you need the reassurance of a loving glance just as much as the one you are caring for.
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