Today, my seventeen-year-old son confided in me that two of his friends were killed in a car accident as recently as a day or two ago, in our old hometown in New York.
He wasn’t emotional or a blubbering mess about it, but he did pull up the Instagram account of the sister of one of the crash victims. There was a photo of the now deceased 19-year-old and a photo of the 17-year-old boy who died alongside him. Then, he showed me a news article covering the crash and apparently, the 19-year-old had been driving, and somehow lost control of the car and hit a parked car and a utility pole. The driver had been speeding and both boys died instantly.
My son hasn’t seen these friends in months, but heard through someone he is in frequent contact with about the accident/deaths. He is sad, I can tell, but I don’t think the severity and finality of the situation has fully hit him. I think this is typical of boys his age, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if he shed a few tears when alone, privately and where no one would be able to see him. For now, I offered him my condolences and asked if he would like to attend services for his friends. He shrugged. It’s all I can do, really, aside from giving him the space he needs in order to grieve in the way he sees fit.
Now that I’m home and we’ve finished dinner, I can’t stop thinking about this and about the fact we’re all on borrowed time. These kids had their whole entire lives in front of them. They were on their way to college, they had plans for themselves. They had hopes and dreams. They had families and friends who loved them. And now, in a single instance, a snap of the fingers, they’re gone. Just like that.
Before this, I’ve been asked many, many times what I’m afraid of. And ya know, I really, really, REALLY had to dig deep within. I know I’ve said this before but I have seen a WHOLE lot of ugly in my lifetime. I have met horrible people, I’ve read about things in the news that absolutely disgust me, I’ve experienced things that others would have categorized as scary but has instead left me unfeeling.
I am not afraid of spiders or other insects or rodents. You will not see me screaming like a girl (even though when I DO scream, I am sure I sound more feminine than I do masculine…) whenever something crawls, slithers, scurries across the floor. I’m the one called upon to rid the house of unwelcome creepy crawlies whenever the cats haven’t done their jobs or just can’t be bothered by the pests.
I am not afraid of horror films, of clowns (the creepy ones), of those things that go bump in the night. I’m not afraid of the things that jump out of the shadows and yell, “BOO!” I can certainly be startled, and it’s happened from time to time, mostly because of my hearing impairment preventing me from detecting another person who may or may not be trying to get my attention.
I am, however, TERRIFIED of losing one of my children. There’s just nothing else that compares to the fear of the possibility of that happening.
So, my son wanted to drive home today. After telling me about the death of two of his friends, in a CAR ACCIDENT.
I have let him drive before, and he’s not a bad driver. He, for the most part, drives the speed limit. That annoys the people behind him, but I’ve always told him not to worry about them, his safety was more important than someone else’s impatience.
My first thought when he asked to drive us home? No. No, absolutely not. I don’t want him driving. I don’t want him to be tempted to speed, I don’t want him to test his limits and put himself or anyone else in danger. I don’t want him to hop into a car with a friend who just got his license and is anxious to show off driving skills they may or may not have. I’m SO flipping scared of this, of losing him or his sister, of getting that phone call, of my not being able to go on if anything were to ever happen to one of my children. Because the fear of this is so great, NOTHING else makes me bat an eye. Everything else is small potatoes compared to this insurmountable terror.
I let him drive, though. Because as uneasy as I feel about his preparing himself for life, I cannot hold him back nor can I put him in a big, huge safety bubble. Same with my daughter, although I think I have a few years before I have to repeat this meltdown when SHE begins driving.
I’m not even sure why I’m even writing about this. Usually I get to writing when there is something pressing to ponder and I want to see if writing about it makes it less of a mystery. This, though? It’s not a question, nor a blog entry that requires feedback. I guess I just want to say I’m very, very afraid. And to feel fear reminds me that I am human and the unknown applies to me, too.
The unknown also scares me. That’s a perfect description of it and sums it all up.
I suppose in closing, I will to ask all of you to say a prayer for these two families in New York City that are one hundred percent devastated right now.