When my phone rang that Thursday afternoon at a few minutes past 3pm….I couldn’t possibly have been prepared for what I would hear next: “Ummmm, Mom? Sooooooooo, Andrew’s bike is in a million pieces, but I haven’t found his body yet.” Yep, THAT was the opening statement, coming from my oldest son, Alex, who is one of the funniest pranksters I know. Of course I said, “That’s not even a little bit funny!” He came back in a somber voice with “I REALLY wish I was kidding this time Mom.” It was right about then that I felt my heart instantly drop to the floor with a sickening thud.
I ran out of my house with my cell phone in hand – searching, hoping, praying for a way to get to the accident scene. My boys had left home just a few minutes ago at the same time. Andrew was headed to pick up his girlfriend after school to give her the very first ride on his shiny brand spanking new yellow and black motorcycle. Alex was headed to Costco in my car to have new tires installed for me, since I really despise the smell of new tires. I was home alone with no vehicle.
We lived in a small gated community near the beach, that was designed in a circle around a lake – with each “block” really being like a spoke in a wheel. All of my neighbors in our block were still at work. It was the kind of tiny peaceful community where everybody knows each other and there is absolutely ZERO traffic other than residents and guests. I headed for the circle asking desperately for a miracle to get me to my boys, while hearing from Alex that he had found Andrew and that he was alive! Just then, a station wagon I’d never seen before came around the bend – the old fashioned kind with the wood panels – like the one from the TV show, Touched By An Angel.
Without asking or even really thinking about what I was doing, I flagged the car down and jumped in the front passenger seat. The driver acted unusually calm and seemed extra peaceful as I explained what I needed and asked for his help. He then said in a deeply reassuring tone, “All I need to know is whether to turn right or left – I will get you to your sons. “
I was still on the phone with Alex as we headed towards the accident site, trying to get specifics and find out exactly where they were – I could hear the sirens in the background and had no earthly idea what to expect. I said a prayer of gratitude that one of the first faces Andrew saw when he looked up from the pavement was his own big brother – THAT had to be a great feeling. As we approached the scene filled with fire trucks, police cars, and the ambulance, I realized I had barely spoken to the wonderful man who was BEING my miracle. I expressed my sincere appreciation for him showing up exactly at the time I was frantically looking for a ride and asked if he lived in our community, since I’d never met him. He answered in a wise and gentle voice: “No, I’m not from here.”
I jumped out of the car and ran to the ambulance that Andrew had already been loaded into. He was awake and alert and although very seriously injured, had an amazing attitude. We talked about how it is in these moments of decision we get to determine our destiny. Clearly, he now had a HUGE opportunity to choose whether or not he would tell a (legit) victim story for the rest of his life or a victorious story of overcoming all the odds. He said, “I AM Superman Mom – I just flew!” That’s when I knew he would be better than okay, no matter how extensive his injuries were.
Alex and I followed the ambulance to the hospital in my car and it was quite a bit later that day when we were informed by a police officer that the person who changed our lives forever was a drunk driver. I was furious, livid, and enraged! I was asking very dis-empowering questions, but my boys immediately pointed out that to live in a place most consider paradise (Palm Beach, Florida) and choose to be too drunk to function on a Thursday afternoon is someone who is really deserving of great sympathy. Good point, really. “How bad must his life be to want it all blurred out, Mom?” (Sometimes our kids are the ones raising us…yes?)
I don’t know exactly when the goosebumps hit me…it may have been late that night when I couldn’t sleep and replayed the whole experience over in my mind multiple times…or it may have been later in the week, after some of the shock wore off and the new altered reality settled in. The reality that my perfectly healthy son had been competing at a Brazilian Jui Jitsu tournament the weekend before the accident, and was now in a wheelchair. The reality that it would be a very long time before he was able to go upstairs to his bedroom. The reality that EVERYTHING in our world was now re-arranged, not just the furniture! The reality that it could have been so much worse…. All I know is when those gratitude goosebumps washed over me in waves, I knew with all my heart that the driver of that unique wood paneled station wagon who took me to my boys, was most definitely an angel… It explains why we never saw him or that vehicle ever again, and what he was really saying when he quietly told me: “I am not from here.”