“This year, I am going to blog a funny story for Thanksgiving instead of the usual “I am grateful for…” I told my husband. And I got busy typing and editing a memorable family story. To share a funny accident.
But then life happened, and I wasn’t in a laughing mood.
Around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday I received a text from our youngest daughter. “On our way!” she said. “Yay!” I replied, as earlier in the day I was reminding her to be careful and started praying for her safety on the road.
She has made the 2.5 hour trip to and from the university several times this year, usually with a car full of eager friends. A few times, she drove on her own, which had her dad and I pacing like nervous cats. But realizing she is now a legal adult with her own set of wheels, part of our parenting growth process is in the letting go. We will never really ever relax when any of our four “babies” are driving, whether it is a long journey or a trip up the street. On her first trip, I remember thinking how hard it was to take her out of my hands and place her into God’s.
The first time she drove herself to campus, I was wrought with fear. What if she got a flat tire – or worse – and she is by herself? I felt better that on her trip home for the holiday, she would be accompanied by one of her best friends, who is also one of her roommates. I received a picture of all the gear she’d be lugging home with a smiley face. Vehicle packed, homework completed, classes done for several days, she and her friend were among thousands of college students on their way home.
Around five o’clock, my phone rang. I figured she was sitting on her phone, because of all the background noise and she wasn’t responding to me saying “hello” six times before she finally said, “Mom.” Then, every parent’s worst nightmare was being spoken in my ear.
“I got rear-ended and pushed into the car in front of me and the bumper is off,” and then came the tears. I walked her through what to do, trying to hide my fear and not let her hear the quivers of my own voice.
Of course, I was breathing prayers of thanks that no one was injured. I was grateful that, in her words, an older guy who witnessed the accident stopped and offered his assistance. Especially since she said she had locked eyes on him during the accident. Maybe he had a daughter her age? Maybe he saw the terror and fear in her face? All I know is that he offered my little girl the calm she needed at a critical time in her life.
I am grateful that her best friend was with her, and grateful for the boyfriends who drove to get these young ladies home. I am grateful that the driver who caused the accident was courteous and polite and assisted the girls in getting their gear back to campus. I am grateful to the police officer who helped these young people navigate such a frightening experience.
I am also truly grateful for the poise and grace my daughter showed. The compassion she showed to a fellow human who made a severe error in judgment. I am so proud of how she handled herself – probably much better than her hot-headed mom.
Many lessons can be learned from an experience like this, such as patience, both on the road and with people and processes. The next few days will be a test in patience in dealing with police reports and paperwork and navigating a sea of unknown.
But the most important lessons learned in these kinds of situations are the lessons of gratitude. Every day, I give thanks to God for the blessing of my family – my husband, children and their significant others; my granddaughters; my siblings and mother and the memory of my father; for extended family and friends and colleagues and my prayer partners. All of these people are my greatest gifts.
I don’t need a national holiday to remind me to be thankful. What I need is to remember to give God thanks in ALL things – both good and bad. Even an accident.
“Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for the accident.” That sounds strange, doesn’t it? But I am thankful because it wasn’t worse. I am thankful because she is home. I am thankful that on the day after, we can be together. Every day is a gift, and sometimes we have to take the bad to remember and recognize the good.
Sometimes we need a reminder that cars and houses and trinkets can be replaced. Every day, we need to remember that people cannot be replaced.
Yes, we will now go through the process of repair – not just the car, but our family. Once we get rid of the “what ifs,” we can move through the steps needed to process this emotionally, physically and spiritually.
And once again, when we are gathered on Thanksgiving to give thanks for all we have, we will hug each other a little tighter, and linger over dessert a little longer and a pray a little harder and enjoy the moments a little more.
And once I get my pies baked, I promise to finish writing and share with you a funny family story. Because now, I am ready to celebrate this wonderful gift of life, for which I am truly thankful.
© Lynne Cobb – 2015
Have you had a moment like this? Share your experience in the comment section.