I received the call at 8 p.m. My 16-year-old son’s name flashed across the screen.
What I am about to experience is the nightmare of every parent of a teenager—I didn’t know if my son was alive or not.
The voice on the other end of the call was not my son’s, and for a moment, I had no idea whose it was.
“Who is this?” I asked as panic was beginning to grab a hold of my throat.
“Mrs. Moore! Mrs. Moore! There has been an accident . . . oh my God . . . Mrs. Moore . . . it’s Seth . . . he . . .” she is screaming and crying as all of the blood in my body seemed to pool at my feet. It is his girlfriend.
Words fight their way out of my tightened throat as my heart beats to a rhythm I never knew it had, “What? What? Faith, slow down! Slow down? Are you okay? Is he okay???”
More screams. More crying. More confusion.
More wondering why time feels like it has warped into an impossible speed of slow motion, and why I can’t get myself out of this dizzying scene.
“Faith! Please! Try to tell me what has happened!”
“We were in a car accident! He hit his head really hard! He isn’t able to talk to you. We are . . . ”
“What? You are What??” Oh my God please let him be okay.
“He is going to the hospital. The ambulance is here!”
My older son and husband had been witnessing this whole conversation in the room with me and were already in motion putting away the take-out we had just sat down to eat, turning off the Netflix, and reaching for car keys and sweatshirts.
Everyone is moving about, and it is as if someone had glued my feet to the ground. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. My son is on the way to the hospital in an ambulance, I have no clear idea of his condition, and I am simply stuck.
My next response is an obvious indication of my emotional crumbling as I send just my husband and son to go to the hospital while I stay home until I can find someone to come over and manage our new puppy.
They hurry out the door, and I know this makes zero sense. Zero.
The overpowering rush of adrenaline that seemed to short-circuit all common sense slowed down just enough for me to snap out of this impossible emotional and physical state of malfunctioning. What am I doing at home? Oh my God. I need to get to the hospital!
Knowing I couldn’t possibly drive myself like this, I called a friend who would arrive at my house to pick me up within minutes. Which felt like hours. And in these minutes that felt like hours, I prayed. First, the selfish prayer, “God, let my boy be okay. Just let him be okay. I will do anything.” Tears streamed down my face, but I could feel my body relax just a bit. Then the hard prayer, “God, you know how much I like to be in control. I have zero control right now. I am left with no choice but to give this all to you. It’s off my desk and on yours.” Where it always was, of course. A little more relaxed, then some peace. My son is His, and not mine. And off to the hospital we fly!
My friend and her husband prayed as we traveled the 40, long and dark minutes to the hospital (the nearby hospital was apparently full). Perhaps God knew we needed longer to pray.
A little more peace. A little more hope.
We arrived to meet my husband and my older son standing outside of the emergency room in the parking lot. This doesn’t feel right, why aren’t they with him? Here comes the panic feeling again.
“He is in the trauma department, and we don’t know anything yet,” they explained to me. The five of us stand outside in the cool air of a late summer night. Nervous small talk and prayer continue as anxiety and peace battled for space in all of our hearts. Time keeps moving. It’s getting late and our friends hug us and leave. And we keep waiting.
Finally, we get to see our son. I think it had been three or four hours since the time of the phone call to the time I saw my son’s face. It might as well have been four years. As relieved as I was to see him and to know that he was relatively okay, it doesn’t get better just yet.
The first words out of his mouth hit me with as much fear as the call. As he lies there covered in blankets and wires and surrounded by beeping monitors, he looks at me with the wildest eyes filled with his own terror and he asks me, “Mom, when is my birthday!?”
Oh God, why doesn’t he know this and why does he look so scared? I take his hand into both of mine and put my face right up close next to his, and with all the calm and cool that I could possibly muster, I tell him the day and the month and the year that he came into our lives and completed our family. I reassured him that he could relax because we were all there with him and that everything would be okay.
I didn’t know if any of this was true, but I needed him to believe it. Maybe so that I would.
More information is given to us, and we learn he suffered serious head trauma in a t-bone car accident at an intersection near our home. He was the passenger and the car was hit on his side. His girlfriend was terribly shaken, but physically unharmed. Because he went to the hospital alone (his girlfriend was not allowed to go with him), he had to wait in the trauma unit for way too long. He had apparently been asked over and over what his birth date was (which explains the panic) as part of the early assessments, and he couldn’t recall this information. He had unfortunately seen and heard some horrifying things, including lives lost while he lay there alone.
I hate that he had to experience this.
It was a very long and sleepless night, and we spent the next three days together with him at the hospital. He had suffered a significant concussion and had a lot of healing ahead of him, but he was going to be okay. To see my strong, athletic, and confident young man look so weak and slow and fuzzy was difficult, but I was so grateful over and over that he was still with us.
To this date, we all still wear the scars we collected from that night.
They are a permanent part of our story now. When I see his name light up across the screen of my phone, it still causes my heart to tighten. Since he was apart from me for so many hours at the beginning of this night, I will never know or completely understand all of the scars he wears. And the ones that tell my story, he will not understand until he brings a child of his own into this world and then wears his own heart on the outside of his chest.
We were the fortunate ones on this nightmare of a night because we did not lose our son. It selfishly felt as though we had dodged a bullet—like we simply got lucky this time in a story that doesn’t always end this well. What I was left with is a deep awareness that I cannot hold on to these lives that I love more than my own tightly enough to protect them from harm. That I cannot control outcomes or love them into safety. That the only way to honor my children is to let them go. To give them to Him. And to each day love and embrace all of the beautiful and messy heart-breaking and heart-growing moments I get with them. Every chance I can and with all that I am.