10:55 p.m. Tuesday night.
Everybody here is tucked in for the night, the college girl is out with friends, the 16yo is on his way home for an 11:00 curfew, and I'm happily settled down with Colin Firth to watch the end of Bridget Jones's Diary. The phone rings. I answer with a grimace, expecting it's Scott calling me to "explain" why he's going to be a few minutes late for his curfew.
Instead, his ragged, sobbing, panicked voice gasps through the phone.
And his whole world, and mine, gets turned upside down in a heartbeat. In that one split second that you wish with your whole heart and soul that you could take back, but you can't.
He was so upset that I couldn't get him to stop talking long enough to say anything. I screamed into the phone, "Scott! Where are you? WHERE ARE YOU??"
His phone may have been damaged and he was definitely in shock, so he could barely hear me. When he did answer me, he was able to give me a general description of where he was. So many scenarios flashed through my mind. My son, alone and bleeding on a lonely road. I don't want him to be alone. I don't want him to leave the scene. What do I tell him to do? No matter; whatever I told him to do, there will be those who think I told him the wrong thing.
I screamed for dependable Brian, let him know what happened, told him I was leaving and he was in charge at the house in case any younger ones needed anything. I threw on shoes and raced for the car. It was slick and foggy and I could barely keep myself from speeding. Only the fear of another accident, never making it to him, kept me under 70. Audible, desperate, rapid-fire, non-stop prayers were on my lips every second.
As I made the last turn, I realized that I had five minutes of dark highway ahead of me, and he could have been anywhere. I didn't know exactly where he was, and of course I left the house without my own cell phone, purse, brain. All I remembered to take with me was my heart - in my throat - and my prayers. I didn't know whether the authorities had yet been alerted. As I slowed to look carefully, my prayers turned into, "Oh Lord, please lead me to him. Please show me where to find him."
In seconds, yellow flashing lights appeared on the road behind me. I pulled over and followed them, guessing they'd lead me to him. And a minute farther down - or was it an hour? - I came upon the scene.
What really happened...he went off the road a little bit and before he could right himself, the wheels went into a ditch and he lost control. There was no alcohol involved, no drugs, no friends, no texting or phone calls. He says he wasn't speeding, and the state trooper corroborated this. He went down a slope and the car started to roll. At first I thought it rolled sideways, but after viewing the crash site by daylight it is apparent that the car tumbled, end over end, for about a hundred feet. You can see the scarred earth where the front bumper dug in initially, and the way it landed, sandwiched between two trees, seems to confirm this.
It landed on the driver's side in the woods down an short but steep embankment. Somehow he unfastened his seatbelt and climbed out through one of the shattered windows. He crawled up the bank, shoeless, bleeding, glasses lost, where an unknown passer-by stopped, sat with him on the guardrail, covered him with a blanket and called 911. Three more people stopped to help. The next car to pass unbelievably contained two friends of his who stopped and stayed with him until it was all over. Police, fire, ambulance, tow truck arrived.
When I pulled my own car over, I couldn't even remember how to turn off the lights. I just got out and ran into the scene, trying to find him. When I took my place at his side, he grabbed my hand and held on so tight. He was in a cervical collar by then, he was cold and shaking, and his face was covered with blood. Questions were answered. Details were given. He was moved to a rigid stretcher and placed in the ambulance, and I followed as they made their way slowly through the foggy night.
The hospital wasn't crowded and thankfully, the waiting involved wasn't interminably long. Tests soon made it apparent that despite his pain, there wasn't any serious injury, and five hours after the accident, we were on our way home.
He is resting upstairs now, in much pain, but the guilt and remorse are far more painful. The bills are already racking up. Even though he swears he wasn't speeding, he will be receiving a citation. But we will deal with all of that. My son will live to see another day and put this all behind him.
As I told him last night in his hospital bed, while wiping tears from his blood-streaked face - there was only one thing in that car that couldn't be replaced. My son would come home with me. I was painfully aware of the parents there that night, every night, who wouldn't be able to say the same. And we are grateful.
God is good. Thank you, Lord.
Three of the side windows were smashed out, and only one door opens. Scott has abrasions from the broken glass all over his face, arms and hands, and a cut on his head. Thankfully none of the x-rays showed any breaks or fractures. The car is unsalvageable.