53: Miracle #2

53: Miracle #2

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries

Miracle #2

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.

~John Milton

I apprehensively watch from the end of our dead-end road, the book I had been reading long forgotten as my son puts his hand-me-down Ford Escape into reverse. I want to tell him I have a bad feeling about this but he cannot hear me. Just as I think about the SUV skidding out of control, it does. Oh, Lord! This is what I have feared. It’s happening again. The distance separating us feels like a great divide. I hear the awful squeal of rubber grinding against loose rocks and hot asphalt. I see a cloud of grey and smell the burn of tires. The book thrown haphazardly on the road, my feet take off running, pounding in time with the refrain “I have to save him, I have to save him.”

The SUV disappears completely from my view. I hear a very loud “Boom!” Then, complete and total silence surrounds me. As if from a great distance, I hear myself screaming his name out to the surrounding woods. I feel like I am moving in slow motion, like my feet are stuck in mud. Why am I not getting to him faster? Out of breath, I gasp for air and push myself with every ounce of energy I possess to keep propelling my body onward, lungs burning. I do not want to face what I am about to come upon.

When I arrive, what I see takes away my last remaining breath. Ugly black scars on the road, leading to what? I collapse upon the road my nose breathing in the hot aroma of heat rising from the street and I think that perhaps I am seeing an apparition. Maybe my mind has finally broken. For standing all in one piece, and outside his totaled SUV, is my son Wesley. While in the background lies his crushed and useless vehicle. A foreign obstacle in this otherwise serene scene: front tires no longer attached, bent metal and shattered windshield, engine still running.

Something is wrong with this picture. Wesley is all in one piece, not lying slumped against the steering wheel as I had envisioned. I look at the mangled SUV and then back at my son, my mind refusing to make the connection. He even appears to be in his right mind because he calls out to me: “Mom?” I look and around see the neighborhood girls come running down the road towards me. I must be in shock. It feels too quiet and surreal. Finally, I spring into action. I want to hug Wesley and reprimand him at the same time. But then I remember he had a passenger.

Jennifer, his girlfriend, where is she? I run through the woods to him and by this time he is helping her through the busted, back passenger side window. He sets her down. She appears all in one piece. But I finally notice all the blood running from their arms and legs from the glass that has pierced their tender flesh. While trying not to give in to my fear, I manage to get them both inside my vehicle and speed away to the nearest medical center.

All the while I am driving with my caution lights flashing, I am reliving the past. This is the same child who survived a traumatic brain injury from a dirt bike accident on this very road on almost exactly this same date years ago. I always dreaded the experience of Wesley getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time. I tried to be extra careful when I finally taught him to drive, and I was very proud of both of us the day we walked into the local DPS office and he got his driver’s license. All I could think about was what he had overcome to get to this point in time. But look at us now. “Here we go again,” I thought.

Luckily, everything turned out fine for both Wesley and Jennifer. No head injuries, no broken bones and no stitches. Just sore muscles and a lesson learned and time spent sitting home without something to drive. Wesley was just being a kid that day. A kid who did not think about how his actions behind the wheel of a car could affect the lives of others as well as himself. But luckily he got to have another chance to try it all again. I do not feel that fate stepped in that day. No, I know without a doubt that something unseen was present for Wesley that day just as it has been in his life now for nineteen years. Wesley, you see, has a mission, and until that mission here is accomplished, he will remain and for that I am more grateful than these words on this page can begin to describe.

~Carolyn Hanna Graham

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