This is how it happened: I was riding scooter with Ethan on my lap. He takes ownership of that spot, my lap behind the handlebars of my scooter He doesn't like it when I let another kid sit there. He lets me know that he's the one who belongs there. We were riding Ethan and me, moving through a hot June day. We'd just hit the local toy store for the air conditioning and a new puzzle. We were heading to a neighbourhood Starbucks for more air conditioning, an iced coffee for Mommy and for Ethan, the biggest chocolate chip cookie we could find.
We waited at a curb cut to cross the street. The coffee shop was on the opposite corner. This particular corner is always busy, traffic comes at you from all directions. Waiting for traffic to pass is another opportunity sneak in a hug, to enjoy Ethan's 'toddlerness' I wasn't in a rush to cross the street.
I looked over and I saw it coming, a small red car, a toyota maybe, slowly turning the corner in my direction. I saw that it was an impossibly tight turn.The front end of my scooter was barely jutting into the street an inch, hardly more The car turned, grazed my scooter and as the driver completed the turn, my left leg got caught between a car tire and the edge of the scooter. The car kept going, my leg was pulled, the foot twisted outward and somehow disengaged from the car. The scooter didn't tip. Ethan was still nestled on my lap. He was completely untouched, unharmed. I screamed.
I yelled something obvious, something like, "YOU HIT ME!" The car came to a stop about 30 feet down the road. A young girl got out, hardly more than a teenager and said, "I didn't see her. I didn't see her."
She didn't see me. I saw her. Ethan saw her.
My left shin burned. Ethan jumped off my lap and moved easily to the sidewalk. He looked at my face and burst into tears. "It's my fault!" He wailed. Pedestrians gathered around us. The sidewalk restaurant that shared this corner was buzzing with different accounts of what they had just seen. People were crowding in. Someone rolled up my left pat leg for a quick inspection. A welt was forming above my shin at the front of the leg. A woman said, "It looks like it might be a bad sprain. I worked in the medical field so I know about these things."
I prayed for a sprain. I had an instant picture of what my life would become if my leg were broken. It felt absurd that I who already had cp, a mobility disability would be saddled with a second mobility disability. The rehab, the loss of independence, the time it would take to come back. Who would take care of Ethan? What ever this event was meant to teach me, I could live without the lesson. This was not part of the plan.
"Do you want to go to the hospital? A cop asked.
"Wait. Wait." I wanted everyone to shut up so I could think. So I could breathe. 911 was called. I called my husband to tell him I was heading to a local hospital. He would meet me there. He would take the scooter home.
When I was lifted into from the scooter to the stretcher heard the crunch of bones, they rattled like dry piano keys. I didn't want to think about it yet. The stretcher popped up and slide into the ambulance. Ethan was lifted in with me. He sat close by and asked on of the EMT's to help him with his seat belt.
As the ambulance yelped down the street, I looked at Ethan who tried to reach for my hand. He loves ambulances with a boy's passion for anything that moves on wheels. Ethan, big-eyed and quiet stared out the the window. Hadn't we done this recently? He had been with me when I had fallen, split my chin and gone to the ER for stitches.That should've take care of my quota of medical mishaps for at least three years.
But then, Ethan was completely uninjured. He was alive and sitting across from me and I was alive. We came close to disaster: had this driver travelled with any kind of normal speed, the injuries would've been much worse for both of us. I guess dying wasn't part of the plan either; or if our survival was just dumb luck, I'd take that too.