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Monday, August 31, 2009

Moments in Time - A Week That Is Hard To Forget

The phone rings - it is just after 6 am - it wakes you from a restless sleep - somehow you know it is bad news - they say it comes in 3s and that would make it a complete set.

You struggle to understand what your distraught daughter is telling you, how can it be possible on today of all days.

You are torn - do you drive back to Perth or stay where you are. You are numb - how can this happen - it just can't be true - but it is.

Your daughter tells you to stay put, wait until she finds out more, it maybe okay and so you wait for the next phone call - so much to handle on this one day.

You frantically ring your eldest daughter - don't come - stay there - help your sister - please please let it be okay.

You dread the next call but you want her to ring now - please let me know it is all okay - please let it be something minor at most.

The next call arrives - from your eldest daughter - the news is not good - how can it be - I am so far away - I need to be there - but I need to be here too - how do I make that choice - how torn this is making me feel - I have to hold it altogether.

The last week of August 2001 is one that none of us will forget - it was a week that changed our family forever.

Thursday 23rd August 2001

The 1st of the three
, was major when it happened, but in the scheme of what was to follow - almost insignificant. A large tree (30 foot high at least) in our yard was blown over in a freak gust of wind - it crashed through the back fence, missed the neighbour's house and their pool by some sort of miracle - mess everywhere - insurance and annoyed neighbours to deal with - minor compared with what was to follow.

Sunday 26th August 2001

The 2nd of the three
. Your husband rings at 8 am to tell you that his father has died overnight in his sleep, he had been fighting cancer and was in hospital for some adjustment to his morphine - but was supposed to be discharged on Monday. You are in shock, it was like he waited for your hubby to come down to visit so that he was there with your m-i-l when it happened. Nearly 300 kms separated you from your hubby and his family. You ring your children to let them know. The funeral will be on Thursday 30th August.

Thursday 30th August 2001

The complete set.
Your only grand-daughter is involved in a car accident, just after 6 am in the morning. The car she was a passenger in was T-boned by a semi trailer in dense fog. She is trapped in the car, but conscious and screaming - her mother (your middle daughter) and your youngest daughter are on the way to the hospital.

You ring your eldest daughter just as they are about to leave to drive the 300 kms to come to the funeral - you tell her what has happened and ask her to go to the hospital - just in case.

Another phone call tells you that your grand-daughter is in a coma - she has head injuries, she lost consciousness in the ambulance on the way to the hospital - a fractured skull - needs a ct scan to assess the damage - moved to intensive care.

Your daughters are supporting each other at the hospital - your son in law is there too - helping where he can.

You want to come back - but you have to be here too - for you hubby - and so you go to the funeral in a daze - totally torn.

You leave your husband behind at the wake - supporting his mother. The long drive back to Perth, to the hospital - what will you find - will my precious chicken be any better - how will your daughter be - is she coping.

You steel yourself to walk through the doors of ICU - afraid of what you will find - she looks so peacefully laying there on the bed - if you can ignore all the tubes and wires - she looks like she is asleep - apart from some bruising to her chest - there is not much evidence she is hurt - if you can look past all the tubes, and wires and monitors attached to her - she is so small on that big bed.

Your daughter is holding up well (on the outside) she keeps herself together - she is strong and she needs to be for the future will not be what she ever imagined.

3 long days they keep her asleep - to give her brain time to heal - there is bruising to the front and back of her brain - from when it ricocheted around inside her skull - the outcome is not known but she should survive - only time will tell. You look around at some of the other children also in ICU - some burnt, some other victims of accidents, some ill post op - and you hope and pray that she will wake up okay. You cuddle her, and read to her, and kiss her, and caress her hair and you hope, you try to keep positive - for without that what is there.

Finally she is awake - and she struggles to focus, she struggles to understand, she wets her pants and gets distraught - she is a big girl now and she doesn't do that - and you comfort her and tell her it okay. In her fuddle-headed state she looks at your top and starts to laugh - you can only imagine that the small black and white checks are spinning her out - she reaches out to touch and then laughs - she drifts back to sleep - the drugs have to wear off.

She is moved to a regular ward and then discharged and you give thanks.
You give thanks that she is still here with you, you give thanks that her brain damage was not more severe, you give thanks you can still cuddle her - for she is your precious chicken and your life would not be the same if she was to go.

You give thanks that all your daughters were still in Perth to be there when you couldn't be.

You give thanks for the fact that the semi trailer did not have a trailer on the back - that is was just the truck part - that she was sitting in the front of the car - if she had been in the back she would have been dead.

You give thanks that she is still here with you.

You try not to play the what if game - what if your family had all made the trip down the night before like you, what if your daughter had made the decision to bring your grand-daughter to the funeral instead of leaving her with a good friend who had to take her husband to work that fateful morning.

You try so hard not to play that game, but even now 8 years later - it is still there in your head - every time you have to give her the drugs that control her epilepsy, every time you see her hands shake in the morning as she holds her cup of tea, every time you see you struggle to read a book appropriate to her age, every time you go to school and drop her at the Education Support Unit, every time you hear that she will need help for the rest of her life.

If I could turn back time I would do it in an instant - to save her and her Mum from this path they now have to walk. But I can't and so I give thanks that she is still here for me to cuddle and to tell her that I love her to the moon and back. And I try not to cry for after 8 years my heart should be healed but it never will be for part of me wishes that it had been me - that I could give her back the life she should have.


  1. I'm grateful it's not you, though I wish it hadn't been her, or anybody. But I imagine she adores you, and feels incredibly lucky to have this relationship.

    Your post took my breath away, I was almost too afraid to keep reading.

    My heart is with you, as always.

  2. There are some things that your heart will never heal from... what a beautifully written but difficult story. thanks for sharing.



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