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Exhausted. Spent. Drained. Thankful. Blessed.

April 16, 2023

Y’all this mommin’ thing is not for the faint of heart. As the Big One is a high school senior, my emotions are all over the place. There are moments that I am bursting with pride at who she is. There are moments that I am terrified that she is not ready for that big world out there. There are moments that I am profoundly sad knowing that she will soon be out on her own. There are moments of pure excitement as I think about all that she will accomplish in her lifetime. These moments can occur over days or in the span of an hour. There is no real predictability as to when each will hit me.

Friday night was a tough one. It marked her last high school dual meet. Forever. She will never swim in a regular high school meet again. There was excitement and anticipation as she was able to swim her favorite event one last time (the 500 free). There was sadness as this was the last time we’d watch her swim in a regular dual meet. After she swam, there was disappointment (on her part!) as she didn’t swim as fast as she’d hoped. That brought a wave of sadness, as I knew she was disappointed in herself. I thought she swam great. No it wasn’t her fastest time, but it was very close.

When the meet ended, I told her she had to humor me and take a picture with me to mark her last swim meet. She grudgingly complied. I put my arm around her and tickled the back of her neck in an attempt to elicit a real smile.

Then we packed up and headed to the parking lot. She had come straight from school, so she had her car. The husband and I drove up in his car. As we approached her car, I asked her if she was okay to drive. I knew she was a bit frustrated. The sun was setting. She often prefers to ride versus drive when given the option. She said she’d be fine. I should have asked again. I should have offered to drive. But I didn’t. I asked once, she said she was fine, so I didn’t push. We told her we loved her and to drive safe, as always. Then we headed to the Husband’s car.

We left the parking lot before she did, so I knew she was behind us. We drove to Panda Express as we planned to get dinner on the way home. We had just parked in the restaurant parking lot when my phone rang with her ringer.

As I reached into my pocket to retrieve my phone, I said to the Husband, “It’s too soon. She shouldn’t be calling me.”

My heart rate instantly increased, and my fear level rose.


“I need you to help. Someone just hit me.”

Y’all I cannot even put into words the fear. The dread. The anger. The shock. The guilt.

“Are you okay?”


“Where are you?”

I could hear a sweet voice in the background asking her at the same time if she was okay. Had she called the police yet.

“I’ll call the police… They are on the way… Is that your parents, where are they coming from? It will be okay. It’s okay,” the stranger said.

“Someone is here helping me,” the Big One said. “She is helping me. Where are you? Stay on the phone with me.”

We were about one mile from where she was, but as we experienced a little over a year ago, it doesn’t matter the distance, it feels like a million miles when your child is scared or in danger or in pain. As parents we could not get there fast enough.

“The police are here now. I’m on Waring Road. Before you turn left. I didn’t turn yet. I was at the light. I’m right here. We’re blocking the lane. Now there is a firetruck. Look for the firetruck.”

Approaching the scene and seeing three California Highway Patrol (CHP) vehicles, one firetruck, flashing lights, cones, car debris and several people, the Husband ran to her. I tried to just breathe. I called the Little One.


“Hey, your sister is okay. She just got rearended. She is okay. We are going to be a while. The police are here. She is okay. I talked to her. She is okay but we won’t be home for a while,” I said.

It’s bad,” the Little One heard me say, though I don’t remember saying it.

The Husband checked on the Big One, who was with a firefighter. He then went towards her car. He found the woman whose sweet voice I heard in the background of the phone call. He thanked her. She said she was just a mom who understood. She returned to her car and drove away. He didn’t even get her name.

I asked the Big One if she was okay. She said yes. The firefighter asked her if she wanted him to have an ambulance come and check on her. She said no. He looked at me and said, “we can have someone come check on her.” The Big One and I made eye contact. She shook her head no and said, “I’m okay.”

I confirmed with the firefighter that she appeared okay and we would take her in to get checked if anything changes. He reiterated to her that if she felt sore or had any pain that she needed to go get looked at. I confirmed we would watch her closely.

Then the CHP officer took her statement. She relived the accident. The impact. The sound. The fear. The light was red. It had just turned green. She was the third car back. The first car had just started moving. She wasn’t certain but she thought the second car had just started to move. She hadn’t moved yet. She heard the crash, then she felt it. She was confused that she heard it first, then felt it.

It happened very quickly. She felt the impact, then in shock attempted to move her car out of the traffic lane. There was really nowhere to go, so she got out of the car and called me. 

I need you to help. Someone just hit me.”


We figure that the sound she heard was the first car hitting the second car, which then hit the Big One’s car. We are so grateful that she is physically okay. The other two drivers were also unhurt. Although the first car’s airbags were deployed.

We are so thankful to the sweet woman who didn’t see the accident, but saw my tiny 17-year old child shaking in fear on the side of the freeway off ramp, wearing nothing but her swimsuit, parka and flipflops. We are also thankful to an off-duty EMT who also stopped and verified that the Big One was okay before first responders arrived. I wish I knew who you both were just to say thank you. There is so much yuck in the world, I want to share the good stories. The good people. They are out there and we are so grateful that you took just a couple of minutes to check on our precious one. Your kindness will not be forgotten.

And my plea to all drivers, please slow down. Please pay attention. A moment’s lack of focus on the road and cars in front of you can have catastrophic results. We are blessed that nobody was seriously injured physically, but the psychological and emotional impacts can last a lifetime.


One Comment leave one →
  1. April 16, 2023 1:17 pm

    Scary for all concerned. I’m so glad that no-one was hurt and that there were lots of kind and thoughtful people around to help and reassure.

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