The Greatest Gift I Received on Mother's Day Was a Driveway

The Greatest Gift I Received on Mother's Day Was a Driveway

It was just what we needed to break the ice. Anna and I laughed and laughed and laughed; the relief was cathartic.

"I thought we were gonna die!" She said. "He was going to hit us!"

"Yes, he was," I agreed.

"How did you even see the driveway?" She marveled. "It's kind of hidden. I didn't even see it."

"I don't know," I shrugged. "I just did."

She shook her head. "I don't know how you're so calm. I am seriously shaking, Mom. Seriously. How are you not freaking out?"

I didn't have time to freak out, I think. I was too busy thinking about you. And your brother, who is completely oblivious and still playing Super Mario Brothers. God Bless Autism today.

We put the car back on the road, and there was no twisted wreckage on the other side of the ridge, and I heard no sirens. I'm torn between hoping he got home without killing anyone and kind of wishing he hit a tree hard enough to hurt himself and teach him a lesson. Most likely, he pulled into his driveway crooked, laughing about his exhilarating ride and he'll drink and drive again, remembering how he's driven drunk before and it was no big deal.

Well, not to him, anyway. My kids and I beg to differ.

Anna, of course, called her bestie and tweeted and texted and Instagramed and Tumblr'd all about it. Me, I drop a blurb on FB just basically saying I had a brush with an idiot and I was glad to be alive. Then bedtime came, and suddenly, I've got Anna snuggled under my comforter in the bed next to me saying, "Mom? Can you hold me? I'm still scared and I don't know why."

I wasn't about to tell my 13-year-old that I would cheerfully hold her until she's in her 80s, so I just pulled her close and we talked. I told her it's okay to be scared. I was scared too, remembering it. Facing your own mortality is frightening, even if it's only for a split-second.

"What if I had woken up in a wrecked car, and you and David were dead?" she asked. "How awful would that be? Losing my mom on Mother's Day?"

This, I can speak to. This, I understand. I lost my Mom on Christmas, and the holiday will forever be tempered with that loss, to some degree. The circumstances weren't nearly that horrific, but still, I know how she feels.

"Well," I said, smoothing her hair. "It didn't happen that way. Maybe it's luck or divine intervention or my mad driving skills or a little bit of all of it. I'd like to tell you that nothing bad will ever happen in your life, but life doesn't work that way."

"I could have died," she said again. "I could have lost half my family, all because of one jerk."

I nodded, mostly because I didn't think I could speak around the lump in my throat. "I know," I finally whispered. "I know." I squeezed her tight. "But we're all here, and we're all okay, and that scenario is just that. It didn't happen. Not today. And we've all still got each other."

She fell asleep on my arm, and I couldn't feel my fingers. How many times did she do that as a toddler? A pre-schooler? I eased her off of it after the pain got excruciating, and I watched her sleep for awhile before I went in and looked at her brother, sleeping peacefully, unaware or uncaring that this night could have been so very different.

But it wasn't. Thank God, it wasn't. It didn't happen that way.

And I suspect that Anna and I will both be repeating that like a mantra, for a good, long time.

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