Wednesday, November 30, 2005

oh, my god

A close friend’s children were involved in a crash which tragically claimed four lives from another family on Monday. My friend’s kids are fine, but their mum and auntie and cousin remain in serious and critical conditions in hospital.
Liam was well enough today to come along as his dad (who was't involved in the accident) gave me me lift to daycare and back, to collect Harley. Harley's little mate was quieter than usual. He got in and out of his dad’s car gingerly, like an old man. He showed me the bruises on his belly. In the car, I pestered him. Was it scary? I asked. Isn’t he brave to be in a car again so soon? I finally decided to let the poor kid be and said, apologetically, “Well, I bet all the kids at school will be asking you a hundred questions, too,” and he nodded and smiled politely.
I think of what he must have witnessed. I address his dad.
"Just think. You could’ve been organising his funeral right now," I say.
"I would’ve been organising five funerals," he points out. My friend is strangely upbeat; cheerful, even. I caution him he might be in shock but he waves me away. I insist he should call me if he wakes with nightmares. Post-traumatic stress and all. He says he’ll be fine. He says it would’ve been far worse if his ex-partner hadn’t had the foresight to see what was happening and manage to slow down before impact.
"Did you hear that," I marvel to my son. "Liam’s mummy saved their lives. Liam’s mummy is a hero.” I have no idea how to relate to eight year olds, but I suddenly remember how it feels to have your mother in hospital. My mother was hospitalised for some time when I was a small child, and I have those ‘flash-bulb’ memories of leaving her behind in a hospital bed.
My friend recalls, "Liam remembers his mum and his aunt saying "Oh, my god!" at exactly the same time." It sends shivers down my spine, and I hold my child's hand tightly.