Saturday April 15, 2017

The emotions of this week have just about done me in. Last weekend involved a 5am trip to LaGuardia airport. Waiting stand-by for a flight, and making it home just in time for Erin to play in her volleyball tournament. Uff da.

Monday was Erin's 16th birthday and the long awaited driver's test. Erin might be the last junior at Mayo High School who didn't have her license. I was about as nervous as I've ever been, wanting so badly for her to gain this right of freedom. She passed and we celebrated over bagels before she took me and Dan home and drove herself to school. Oh, the joy!

Dan's car - the Toyota RAV - was passed down to Erin with160,000 highway miles that Dan put on it in the last 5 years. Dan's company car is arriving soon. Perfect timing.

I was especially pleased when I didn't have to pick her up from volleyball on Monday night at 9:30! Or, pick her up from school in time for her golf meet on Tuesday. I wasn't worried a bit as I was confident in her skills. She is a good driver. All was right in the world.

Wednesday afternoon was an early release from school. Erin was headed out to lunch with her friends. On the busy road outside Mayo HS, Erin was waiting to make a left turn, with traffic backed up behind the turn lane. A teenage boy in a pickup truck with "redneck" written across the front (yes, I'm judging) was either distracted, going too fast or both. The front of his truck had a hitch on it for a snow plow and that hitch slammed not into Erin's bumper but into the back gate of the RAV, crumpling the door and shattering the windshield. Erin said "I could see him coming and knew he was going to hit me. I just braced for impact". In my 30 years of driving, I've never been in an accident that violent.

The call I got made my heart sink. I arrived on the scene and we called the cops. Luckily, everyone had insurance. Erin was OK, she was alone in the car and had her seatbelt on - a little whiplash, a sore shoulder from the seatbelt and a lot of fear.

Our insurance agent is confident that the boy's insurance will cover our deductible and repairs. In a rear end crash, it almost always works that way. Our insurance rates will not be affected. Erin was not at fault.

We drove her to and from school the next day, but by Friday she was ready to get behind the wheel again. Her car is now at the body shop and we have a rental, covered by insurance. Of course, a teenage girl can't drive the rental, so Erin is now driving the mom car, my Lincoln. She might be the youngest person in America driving a Lincoln MKX!

But now, I'm a nervous wreck when Erin's out there driving. I now imagine the Mayo HS parking lot and surrounding roads as a real live version of Mario Kart. The first two days I was fine, confident, happy for her to have her independence. Now I can't relax until she is home safe and sound. She had a midnight curfew last night. I was wide awake when she came in at 11:55.

I know it's almost a rite of passage to have your first accident when you are a new driver. Usually it's a bump on the fender, not whiplash and a shattered windshield. Damn.

Dan and I were talking this morning about the highs and lows of life. Parenting is hard, and I wonder if we want so badly to have the highs after experiencing the lows. Are we searching too hard for those feel good moments?

Today is a reminder of what we have endured as parents. Today is diagnosis day, April 15.

6 years ago, we were told that Shannon had a brain tumor and that there was little we could do about it. We did what we could, but still lost her. The rest of our parenting moments are framed by that event. This life had a random element to it and some things are out of our control.

Our kid getting in a car crash but not getting hurt? That's nothing in the grand scheme of things, right? But that's not fair to Erin. The car crash this week was traumatic, and Erin shouldn't have to live under the shadow of "there are worse things in life." Erin's allowed to have her own tragedies.

But, we are thinking of Shannon on this day. Remembering how she handled her diagnosis with grace and determination. When life throws me a curveball, I can only hope to do the same.