I fully believe that people’s true nature comes out during a time of crisis. I admit to being a pansy. When one of my kids fall, my first instinct is to freeze and stop breathing for a few seconds before common sense takes over and I run to them.
Earlier this week, I witnessed a 13-year-old boy get hit by one of those lifted, too-big-to-be-needed-in-Tacoma pick-up trucks. I had just looked up in time to see the driver’s side front of the truck slam into this boy and then screamed. And IMMEDIATELY looked away.
(I have seen TWO people get completely CREAMED by vehicles and am in NO hurry to see that again).
Fortunately, Bruce was more clear of mind and seeing what just happened, pulled to the side of the road and got out to check on him. Several people witnessed what happened and called 911. Bruce saw that the kid had moved to the sidewalk and came back to the car.
I went over and sat next to the boy - who was looking stunned sitting there. It wasn’t until THAT moment that I realized how young this boy was. He was taller and heavily built and on first glance looked to be about 19. I asked him if he had anyone he wanted me to call and he glanced at me for a split second with tears in his eyes and a look of complete horror on his face and said trembling “can you call my mom?”
At that moment, this boy stopped being just any kid and became one of my own. I thought of all the times I begged Andy to watch where he was going as he crossed the street. I thought of all of the ridicule I got for being SO strict about not jaywalking. We tried calling from my phone but could not get anyone to answer. We then tried again from his phone. The boy tried to explain to his mom what was going on but was crying so hard that he was having trouble getting the words out. I took the phone from his shaking hands and calmly tried to explain to his nearly-hysterical mother what had happened and where we were.
After speaking to the police – who had arrived by that point – about what we had seen, I walked back over to the boy. By then, his mom had arrived. She was pacing in disbelief. I walked over and introduced myself to her and she just grabbed me and gave me a huge hug. I burst into tears and apologized to her for not watching what happened – for launching into self-preservation mode and looking away. She just held on to me. I spent the next 15 minutes or so standing there with her and the police and paramedics explained what was going on. The entire time she looked at me for reassurance that it would be okay. I took her hand to steady her and just stood there. I stayed with her until she left with her son in the ambulance. I gave her a copy of my business card and told her to call me if they needed anything. Food, a ride home, anything.
And then we left.
I thought about that boy and his mother a lot over the next few days. Wondering if he was alright, if she had made it home, if they needed anything but not expecting to ever have answers.
She called me two days later. She seemed concerned that I wouldn’t remember who she was – not realizing that I had not been able to get her confused, terrified eyes out of my mind. She told me that she owned a local restaurant and would I please join her for lunch. I happily agreed and we made the arrangements.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know if she wanted to ask us to testify about what we saw. I didn’t know if she just wanted to hear again how her son – who had been walking with the light in the crosswalk – had been hit. I didn’t know.
What she wanted to do was thank us. She provided us with a lovely meal and wonderful conversation and several heart-felt embraces. She cuddled with my little ones and worked hard to remember their names. I left her today thinking that she and I would probably become friends. This beautiful woman with a VERY lucky son (he only had a broken foot after all that) and an amazing restaurant.
This may not have been the best way to meet but it certainly cemented in our minds what kind of people we are. We are two moms in a big world that tries to hurt our babies and we will work together to make sure that doesn't happen. We both know that if nothing else – we can count on each other.
And at the end of the day isn’t THAT what being human is all about?