I stepped outside on a beautiful summer afternoon. The sun was shinning, the birds were chirping and there was a gentle breeze that allowed us to enjoy the warmth of the sun without overheating. It was the perfect day for a walk. I opened my garage door, pulled out my stroller and strapped my 2 year old daughter in. I handed her the soother, cup and blankie as it was nearing nap time and I knew there was a good chance that she would fall asleep in the stroller. As we walked together Nyah started to point out all of the birdies, trees and cars. “Mommy, my walk now ?” my daughter asked. I unclipped her belt and placed her on the ground. I continued to push the stroller with one hand and held her tiny little hand in the other.
Every 5 minutes or so, Nyah would tire of walking, so I plopped her back in the stroller until she had rested enough and wanted to return to walking again. We had been walking for about 30 minutes when we neared the little market store. Nyah asked to sit in the stroller again for a rest. I asked her if she wanted to go into the market for a cookie and she replied “Yes please Mommy. My like cookies!”
We waited on the sidewalk until the road was clear and then started to cross the street. The market was busy. Many of the locals stopped in to grab lunch from the market so there was a steady stream of vehicles coming and going in the parking lot. We had crossed the road into the parking lot when an abrupt flash caught my eye. In a matter of seconds I saw a beige van barreling toward us! The van had quickly swerved out of the “exit” line and was now speedily exiting through the “enter” line.
Before I could even finish the thought “he is going to hit us”- it happened.
He crashed into the stroller head on. What happened next is a feeling I had never experienced and hope to never experience again.
My body went numb and just like in the movies everything went in slow motion. I tightened my grip on the stroller handle and started to scream. Either my voice wasn’t working and no sound was coming out or my ears weren’t working and I actually was screaming but couldn’t hear myself. The initial crash sent my daughter’s cup and blanket flying into the air. The driver hit the stroller and then continued to accelerate.
“Oh God no! He doesn’t even realize he’s hit us” He continued to accelerate dragging us out of the parking lot and back onto the road. I was screaming and trying to pull the stroller free from the front fender where it was jammed. As he continued ahead and made a left turn and the stroller unhooked, freeing us, and he drove away. I ran around to the front of the stroller. The impact had caused my daughter to fly out of the bottom of the stroller. Her head was now where her bum would be and her legs were dragging on the ground. Thank God her shoulder blades were too wide to fly completely through the bottom and she remained partially in the stroller. Her pink blankie, soother and cup lay strewn all over the road.
I grabbed her out of the stroller. I was in complete shock. I was starting to panic. I laid her on the ground. She wasn’t moving. She wasn’t crying. She just lay on the ground completely still looking up at me. I remember trying to consciously do the right thing in that moment but none of my faculties were working properly. My mind was foggy and my thoughts were scrambled. I was having trouble catching my breath.
I was trying to consciously calm myself down. I needed to help her. I knelt down beside her and held her hand, but I was afraid to look at her too closely. If something was seriously wrong. I couldn’t face it right then. I could feel the warm tears streaming down my face, but I couldn’t make any sounds. I could hardly speak. I knelt down beside her, closed my eyes and started to pray. It was not audible, and it was not well articulated. It was more of a whimper that I knew God would understand.
Thankfully numerous other drivers had witnessed the accident and came rushing over. One man brought a blanket out of his trunk and lifted Nyah onto it. Miraculously a man I knew from church was the first person to get to me. He had been sitting at a red light in front of the market and had seen the whole thing happen. I was so relieved to have someone with me that I knew. I’m not even sure if what I said to him even made sense. I was crying and shaking and terrified. He called 911 and then I asked him to call my husband and my Dad. He stayed with me while we waited for the ambulance.
I looked down and noticed the left side of her head was bloody. There was blood coming out of her ear. It was in her ear, on her skin, and in her sweet little hair. So many people were crowding around us. Everyone was talking and asking me questions. “Is she bleeding?” “Can she move?” “Did someone call 911?”
I couldn’t answer any of them. It was like I heard them, but their voices seemed muffled and really far away. It was as if my brain could not properly process their questions. I thought I might be sick. I was kneeling over my daughter, tears pouring down my cheeks pleading with God. I was praying- no I was begging God for mercy. I was begging him to spare my child. “Please God…please…please..please..please..” It was all I could manage to pray.
I could hear the sirens in the distance. Just then my Dad also arrived. He told me it was going to be okay. Help was on the way. The firefighters arrived and took over. They examined Nyah and lifted her to her feet. They tried to get her walking around.
When the ambulance arrived, they loaded her onto the stretcher and into the back.
Now she was crying. The shock was waring off and she was terrified. I kneeled down beside the stretcher, took her hand, and started to sing her favourite song… “5 litte ducks went out one day, over the hill and far away…” She stopped crying and smiled at me. After I had finished the song once I stopped singing. “Sing it again Mommy” Nyah quietly asked. I sang that song over and over until we arrived at the hospital. The singing was calming me just as much as it was calming her. I was grateful for the distraction-for something else to think about.
The ride to the hospital felt like an eternity. What was taking so long? We should have been there by now!
When we arrived at the hospital and things just got more chaotic. They wheeled my daughter in to examine her and the nurses were asking me a variety of questions about what had happened. I could barely form the words to say “my daughter was hit by a car”. There were papers to fill out. My husband arrived in a panic. They wheeled Nyah out of my sight. Where did they take her? The police came to the hospital- more questions.
I just wanted to sit down, close my eyes, and for this to all be over.
A doctor and nurse gave Nyah a thorough examination and reported that, miraculously, she was completely fine aside from a small gash on the top of her ear.
No one could believe that she escaped that accident with such little injury.
I brought Nyah into our bed that night. I held her close all night and I thanked God for his protection over my sweet girl.
The next morning I woke up in a daze. I looked over at Nyah sleeping peacefully beside me. Had that really happened or was it all a horrible dream? I gently combed my fingers through the hair covering her ear. The bandage was there. It had really happened.
After my husband left for work, Nyah and I got dressed. We walked out to the garage and pulled out the stroller. “Where we going Mommy?” Nyah asked. “We are going for a walk” I answered with a smile. I bucklered her in and started walking toward the market.
I wanted to go back there… back to where it happened. I wanted to face it. I didn’t want to be afraid and I didn’t want Nyah to be afraid.
“We still need to get you that cookie!” I exclaimed.
We arrived at the Market. We looked both ways. We crossed the street. We went straight to the bakery and picked out a big chocolate chip cookie.
As we walked home Nyah pointed out the birds and the trees. She happily chatted away in between bites of her cookie. The significance of that moment was not lost on me. This day could have been very different and I knew it. I walked home so very thankful for all of the people who helped us that day. I was so grateful to God for his protection and faithfulness over my little family.
Things can change in a split second. A single moment can alter the course of your life. It’s so easy to blast through each day, chaotically working through your “to do” list. It can be difficult to slow down and savour every moment. I think about that day often.
It is a reminder of what is really important.
It is a reminder of how quickly things can change.
It is a reminder of just how temporal this world is.
It is a reminder to live every moment, holding my loved ones close, loving the best way that I can.
* If you would like to read more stories like this one, simply click the “subscribe” box in the corner of the page.