IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
“I wish I could relax. ‑Since the accident I have been a nervous wreck. I am having nightmares, and I can still see the dead driver in the car as if it were five minutes ago. The trauma unit at Parkview Hospital was wonderful …” ‑‑come the words from my niece, Julie. Her daughter, Madison, was in a fatal accident on Coldwater Road in front of Perry Hill Elementry School on Christmas Eve. I had traveled from Louisville and we were gathering at my sister, Kathy’s house for Christmas. I have only seen my stoic sister’s face break a few times in my life, and I knew as I watched her face on the phone, that it was bad.
Our great niece, Madi, had been in a three car accident in which one of the drivers was dead. Our family was stunned. ‑I don’t know why the biblical words “thou shalt not know the day nor the hour,” came into my head. I had just been thinking a few days before that how lucky our big family is that no one but Dad had died, and that was in 1970. Somewhere in your gut you know that life is just a ticking time bomb. Everyone is born and everyone dies. We just don’t know the day nor the hour. ‑Thank God for sparing Madi. And even as these thoughts are in my head, there is a grieving for the boy who died. Feelings get mixed up. Being relieved when another family is going through unendurable pain seems unkind, somehow.
When I went to bed that night, I looked out the window from my sister’s house which faces Lower Huntington Road. Snow covered everything. Ice sparkled on this beautiful holy night. I spoke a prayer of gratitude for Madi’s life, and asked God to hold in his arms the boy who was killed.
I don’t know how most of you feel about Guardian Angels, but I have always had some tiny inside belief that we are protected by those who have gone before, until our time comes. Was it by accident that a Volunteer Fireman was a witness and a first responder? Was it by accident that he rendered aid in this time of crisis and notified 911? ‑Could it have been Dad sending his “brother fireman” to be with Madi that night? ‑Who knows the answers to such questions? ‑But there he was, nevertheless, and we don’t even know his name. I have a special place in my heart for firefighters, as does everyone in my family. I am grateful that he was there. He assessed the injuries and gave aid. ‑He put Madi in the shelter of his arms, and then in the shelter of his car. ‑God bless firemen. All of them.
Although the many injuries of the three kids will heal, the horror of that night will stay with them forever. It is time, now, to carry on. “Just keep going”, as Aunt Ruth advised. ‑Work through it. Julie is having a hard time letting Madi out of her sight and the fear of almost losing her is difficult. But, Madi used good judgment that night. She put on her seatbelt and the car had airbags. She is suffering “survivor’s guilt” which I hope will pass with time. ‑She has a sweet goodness about her.
I think, for Madi, she now has a special purpose in her life. She has been given an opportunity to go on. She has a responsibility to do the things she was put on this earth for. She is a blessing to her family, but she will also be a blessing to the world. But for right now, we will let her wounds heal, as well as the wounds of the survivors of this Christmas Eve tragedy. God be with the family of the one who did not survive.
Our family is grateful today for this beautiful blonde, blue eyed, 15 year old teen who never knew the silliness of her two great aunts and great grandmother standing over her, all competing to change her diaper. She was the first baby of the new generation. She was our miracle, or darling, our future. She still is.
To the teens who read this, please heed my words: Your life can be taken in the blink of an eye. Be careful, wear your seat belts. You have families who cherish you.
Blessings to all my Waynedale friends,