Something Personal

(Please forgive that this is not a usual post, but I needed to share.)

I didn’t recognize the number.  I was writing, too busy for trivial interruptions. I immediately denied the call with a lazy auto text, “I’ll call you back later.

My text was answered with, “No, call back now! This an emergency!”

“Your daughter has been in an accident…” The words sent a shockwave coursing through me, gouging every nerve. Fear and love, the two most powerful motivators. I had just been hit with a resounding dose of both.

Time slowed to a crawl as I cranked the ignition of my old Chevy Blazer, hoping that it would sense my urgency and fire over. Deep ruts in the gravel drive, a testament to what was at stake. Buildings, streets, and cars, streaked past, a liquid blur. Life around me, unaware of my desperate state. I don’t recall the 7-mile drive to the scene of the accident. The flashing lights stretched out for half a mile. A mass of guiding lights, each showing me the way. When I saw what was left of her car, I silently called to her, “I’m almost there!

A chilling swath of debris followed the car from where it struck the hillside and proceeded to flip twice, ripping rocks and brush from their earthen beds, before coming to rest upside down. An unrecognizable piece of twisted metal still smoldered as the firefighters worked to douse the flames. I ran past the flashes of blue and red, past the stench of fire and the crunch of shattered glass beneath my shoes.  I ran until I finally saw her.20171207_102400

Her tiny form lay on a stretcher, a brace supporting her fragile neck, fresh blood on her hands and forehead. I swam upstream, against a current of faceless emergency responders trying to reassure me that my daughter was okay. But they didn’t understand. I had to know. I fought my way to her side, her tear stained cheeks and tiny scarlet covered hands triggered an indescribable pain in my chest. I struggled with the overwhelming feeling of relief, and the need to vomit. I kneeled at her side gently holding her hand in mine, while the EMT’s readied her for transport. The fear behind her eyes began to melt away as my wife made it to her side a moment later. In her face, I could still see my little girl. I could see all the times I’ve been at her side when she needed me the most. And I silently berated myself, for the times when I was not. In that brief moment huddled close in the back of that ambulance, I realized what it truly means to be a father. It is pain, and suffering, in times of trial. It is laughter, and, it is love.

Seven days have past and my little girl is back on her feet, taking on the world. She walked away from the wreck with a few good bruises and some minor scratches. Yes, she might end up with some scars, but eventually, they too will heal.  It would all seem a terrible nightmare, if not for the twisted and burned wreckage that remains in my driveway. A reminder of what I could have lost. More important, a reminder of what I still have.

I still have my daughter, and I, am still her Dad.

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