I don’t know if this is a sad story or a happy story. Maybe it’s a sad one with a happy ending.
I’m a mom so I am hecka sensitive to children getting hurt. I can lose my mind in hysterical grief if I read an article about a child being left in a hot car. I also feel for the parent that accidentally left them and the torment and guilt they feel forever. In the end I always come to the same conclusion…that could have been me. I watch other parents troll and harass these poor parents and it makes me want to punch everyone in the throat- but I digress.
Today was not a normal day. My middle son who is wheelchair, trach and ventilator dependent has been battling an infection from his recent G-Tube surgery. We had some early doctor’s appointments for him lined up today about 40 minutes from my house. I had to pack up all three of my boys and our home nurse for the ride across town at 7:45am.
We arrived at the office and I got my 5 year old son out of the car. Then I continued the routine of getting the wheelchair out, the 8 million bags we travel with and helping the nurse with my son’s equipment. I locked the car and we walked toward the elevator. It is a typical summer day in Phoenix- approximately 180 degrees.
“Caleb,” my nurse said looking at me. I waited for her to finish the story she was about to tell. “Allison, Caleb is in the car.”
My heart stopped. You see, it had only been a few minutes since he was left but I realized something horrific. If she had not reminded me…
I WOULD NOT HAVE REMEMERED HE WAS IN THE CAR.
I can say with 100% certainty I would not have remembered because I forgot he was in the car the moment I buckled him in almost an hour earlier. He hadn’t made a peep and I don’t usually bring him with me to Miles’s appointments.
My reaction to realizing I had left him was VISCERAL.
I suddenly wanted to sob, throw up and hide all at the same time. I was distraught at what COULD have happened. Many ‘what if’s” ran through my head and all were upsetting to say the least.
My voice shook as I tried to check Miles in for his appointment and we learned we had arrived at the wrong location. I loaded all three boys back into the car as we drove to another nearby clinic. As I parked again, I jokingly said out loud, “Remember the baby this time Allison!”
I went through the same motions. Got my oldest out, unloaded the wheelchair, the bags, the toddler, locked up the car and walked toward the clinic.
“Allison…Caleb!” the nurse could barely believe she was reminding me again. I had forgotten him in the 5 minutes since I had parked.
I do not want to know how this day would have turned out if nurse Alma had not been with me. This didn’t happen because I’m a negligent mom. It didn’t happen because I was overtired, distracted or because I don’t love my kids. It happened because I’m human and I was out of routine. This could be me and it could be you.
By the grace of God, today turned out to be anticlimactic. I share this because I learned a valuable lesson. There is no difference between me and the parent who remembered their child was in a car when it was too late.
Today I will be downloading an app called Kars4Kids Safety that reminds you if your child is still in the car. I hope you will all do the same. I want to ensure we all have happy endings to our mistakes.