The drive back to Columbus from the junk yard was uneventful. TJ had a nice long nap while I was gone and is now ready to go back to the dorm. He gathers his things and goes to sit on the first floor while I start the shut down process on the third floor of the condo. By the time I make it down to where he is sitting, I find his eyes full of tears. He was staring at this picture. "Mom," he says while the tears stream down his face, "This is where Julie sits." He points to the passenger seat. Clearly that side of the car took the direct hit from the truck and had someone been sitting there they might not have escaped without injury as TJ had. I wrap my arms around him and simply say, "Honey, it wasn't in Gods plan for Julie to be sitting there last night."
We silently sit there for several minutes and then he says he is ready to go. I drive over to the dorm, park the car and help him carry his things up to the 12th floor. I spend a short while chatting with his roommate Dave while TJ puts his things away and then head out. TJ made a point of clarifying that I would not be driving home until morning. I assure him I am heading back to the condo. I drive through campus on my way back. I still find the grounds of my old Alma mater beautiful, especially when there is a little snow on the ground. It is very cold out tonight, so I do not see any students walking around.
I get back to the condo and turn on the 11:00 news. I hear a report of an ice storm that is coming up from Kentucky and should be hitting Columbus about 4:00 a.m. I love driving in snow, but ice is a whole different issue. I ponder the news for a moment or two and then decide I better head for Cleveland. NOW. I grab a Red Bull from the refrigerator and off I go.
I head north on 315 from Lane Ave. The roads are clear. Minutes later I merge onto I-71 and a soft snow is beginning to fall. I drive for a short while and begin to realize visibility is decreasing but I press on. Just north of the Delaware County line I start to loose sight of the road. I question whether I should maybe turn back, but I think of the ice storm I heard was coming and decide to continue home.
A short while later my cell phone rings. I can't answer it, I need to keep both hands on the wheel and my full attention on the mostly invisible road. It rings again. I look over and see that it is TJ, so I answer it. "Mom, I left the doctors note on the front seat of the van. Can you bring it over tomorrow before you leave?" "Ah no, no I can't TJ. I am already heading home." "Mooom," he screams. "WHY ARE YOU ON THE ROAD?" I try to explain about the ice storm and that I need to get home before it rolls in. What I really need to do is get off this phone before I land in the ditch. Of course I cannot tell him this at the moment. "I'll be all right TJ, try to go to sleep."
Two hours later, I finally pull into the Marathon station at the Mansfield exit. It is now snowing like a blizzard and I just need a break from driving. I walk into the station and the woman behind the counter says to me, "Yo mama, what the he** are you doing out this late on a night like this?" "You don't want to know." "Try me. I get bored here all night long." I start to tell her about the accident. She stops me, "Let me guess? It happened at mile marker 165." "How'd you know?" That's where they stop salting, different county." Hmmm. Then she says, "They didn't take him to Dead Central did they?" Then she throws her head back and laughs. I'm beginning to think I'm back on that movie set. This is just weird. I gas up and get on my way. If I'm lucky, I'll be home before sunrise.
The further north I get, the better the roads are getting. About 2:30 a.m. my phone rings. It's TJ, again. I answer it on the third ring. He is sobbing. Why oh why didn't I just stay in Columbus. I should not have left, it was too soon. He is trying to tell me something but I cannot understand a word he is saying. "TJ, please calm down honey. I can't hear you." He repeats again whatever he is trying to say. I listen closer. It really is a different sob I hear. Not a painful sob, but more like a happy sob if there is such a thing. I ask him to take a deep breath and repeat a third time. Finally I hear him say "angels." Oh angels, OK. Wait a minute. I did not tell him about my angel theory. I shake my head a few times.
"TJ, what did you just say?" "There are two snow angels under my window." Oh my God, he is hallucinating. Now what do I do? I am two hours north of Columbus with a storm coming up from that direction. I do not want to turn around. I ask him where his roommate is. Sleeping of course. It's the middle of the night. "Mom, these are two perfect snow angels. Under my window. On the big Ohio State campus. They are right under my window." He is starting to get excited, even animated telling me about it. I am trying to think how I am going to arrange for a mental health referral in the morning. He clearly needs to talk about the accident.
Then I hear, "Mom, I am going to go get my camera and take pictures." " Great idea, TJ." We hang up and I have to fight the urge to just put my head on the steering wheel and cry. I know there will be nothing in those photos. They will be pictures of nothing. Blank. Totally blank. Why oh why did I leave Columbus...