My youngest son was almost hit by a car today, crossing the school parking lot behind me when I wasn't aware he was following. My boys and I have crossed the same parking lot hundreds of times together, usually with me holding a hand, always with us moving as a group. I don't know what was different about this morning, why I walked with just my middle son. But, by doing so, I inadvertently changed our routine. It could have changed our lives. I am forever indebted to the mom who hit the brakes. Fast and hard. She saved my child. I didn't even think to catch her name, though I did have the wherewithal at the time to say "Thank you."
Thank you doesn't cut it.
He is six. He is my sunshine and my heart and all good things rolled together into a sloppy, smoochie-filled, puppy-like goofiness. He is a kindergartner who has learned from his mommy that "mommy" means "safety." And I almost failed him today. No. I did fail him today. It was another mommy, instead, who protected him from harm.
This parking lot? Daily, parents zip through it like no-one's business. However, this woman chose to pay attention. She wasn't on her phone. She wasn't speeding. She wasn't driving--or parking--in an area where she shouldn't have been. All the common behaviors I've complained of seeing during drop-off and pick-up times--parents thinking none of the rules apply to them or their vehicles. My family was lucky: She was alert and in the moment ... while I wasn't.
Life happens quickly and changes even faster. Through the history of my life, I've learned to be thankful for the "today," the "now." Worrying about the future gets me nowhere; dwelling on "what-might-have-been" is pointless. But, in our daily routine, we all need to stop and look around. Take stock of what is occurring outside of ourselves. Sometimes we get so narrow in our bubble of focus that we miss something happening right in front of us (or behind, as the case may be). And yet, as humans, we are inherently vulnerable. It doesn't take much to shift the ground beneath our feet, to make our world come tumbling down around us. But it also doesn't take much to help reinforce the foundations, to be a support when things look unstable. This woman, for the briefest of moments, created a load-bearing wall for me. Because of her, my world did not crumble.
I wish I had given her a hug when she came around my car to check if my boy was okay. She probably needed it as much as I did. Her voice was breathless as she asked, "Is he okay?" I thought about her all through the day. I know I will continue to think about her as I watch my son do his boyish zany stuff. I hope she realizes what she represents to me. I hope she knows my "thank you" means more than those words express. Because my son means everything, and I put my boy behind those words.