...I went back to the house, left a note for the work crew to call me on my cell due to an emergency and then went to the hotel. I quickly scooped up a change of clothes and my toothbrush. I couldn't quickly find my book but I did not want to delay getting on the road. Fortunately Sarah was asleep so she did not know what was transpiring. Matt on the other hand was visibly shaken. This poor little guy has had a lot of drama/trauma in his life with Sarah and now his big bro. His hero, who he idolizes.
Julie's parents called our hotel room offering to help in whatever way they could. I thanked them, but John and I have such a routine down from our experience with Sarah that we are used to operating physically solo, yet emotionally we are so in sync. I thank God for that. A healthy bond with a partner is truly empowering. After hanging up I paused, thankful that Julie called her parents for emotional support. I kissed everyone, not knowing when I would see them again and went out to the van. In the few short minutes I was inside, the snow had increased, so I needed to spend a few minutes cleaning the windows. Just as I climbed in and got settled, my cell phone started to ring. I did not recognize the number, but I did note the area code as being from the Mansfield area.
"Hello." "Is this the mother of John Ely?" "Yes." "I'm calling from the Mansfield post of the State Highway Patrol. Were would you like us to take the car?" I'm not sure I am hearing correctly, so I say, "Excuse me?" He repeats. I am starting to feel my blood pump. I am thinking to myself, the car. What do I care about THE CAR? My son, I want to know about my SON. So I frantically say, actually more like scream, "I don't care. Where's my son? I want to know where my son is." "I'm sorry ma'am. I don't know anything about your son. I have the tow truck driver on the other line and they want to know where to take the car." OK, play along I say to myself. So I ask, "How bad is the car?" "It's been hit by a tractor trailer ma'am, that's a big truck. I'm guessing it's totalled." "Then take it to a junk yard. We won't be driving it again, will we?" "No ma'am, you won't." Grrrrr, I hate when people call me ma'am.
I pull out of the Holiday Inn parking lot and hop on the freeway. On a decent Sunday evening, this drive would take one hour and twenty minutes. Tonight, I'm guessing double. I pass one car in the ditch, then two. A few in the median. Damn, why can't they take care of these roads.
The radio is on, but I can't seem to hear it. That ugly little voice that surfaces only when you don't need it keeps trying to throw in doubt. Wonder if he is not all right? Wonder if he is paralyzed? Wonder if he is brain dead? I start to remember little conversations. Like the one we had when we were waiting in line for his drivers license and he told me he wanted to be an organ donor. I think back to the cold day in December when he helped carry my Aunt Ruth's casket as a pall bearer and how proud I was of him. How can this be happening? And then my cell phone rings again.
"Hello." "Is this mom?" "Yes" " This is... blah, blah, blah..." I'm not listening. I don't want anymore details about the car. And then I hear him say, "You should be proud mom. We don't often see kids this age wearing their seat belts. Likely saved his life. You know, It's not the impact that kills them, it's when the body hits the pavement after being ejected from the car." OK, thank you for that sobering thought. "Wait don't hang up. My son, where is my son?" "Haven't you spoken with the hospital?" "No, NO I HAVE NOT." "I believe they took him to Med Central in Mansfield."
A few minutes later, another call. This time it is a doctor from Med Central. Finally. He matter-of-factly says, "Mom, how soon will you be here?" I tell him the roads are horrible so I am still a good half hour away. He responds, "OK, we will keep your son in the emergency room until you get here." I am too afraid to ask what that means. That little voice starts talking to me again. Wonder if he didn't survive? Now I've had it. I start to get mad. I start to bargain with God. I tell him, "After all I've been through you better not take my TJ from me." Then I realize how silly I sound. You don't negotiate with God. I apologize and let him know that we will take whatever he gives and make the best of it. We have learned this from Sarah, our greatest teacher.
About ten minutes later a nurse calls. He asks me if I will be able to take TJ home? "Well, no. Actually, we are living in a hotel." "Oh, well is there somewhere you can take him?" "Can he leave the hospital?" I ask. "Yes, he will be able to leave tonight." THANK YOU GOD. I quickly call Julie and tell her he can leave the hospital, TONIGHT...