In the space of five short minutes, one’s whole life can change. My friends, you think you this to your bone—I was sure I understood—but you don’t know. You can’t until you look the change in the eye.
On Wednesday August 26, 2009, around 5 pm, I opened my back door to make sure my daughter was playing next door. They small group played under the carport and I could hear my daughter laughing. All was well. I went to turn the TV channel, and then decided to put a DVD into he player. I chose the DVD and was placing it in the tray when I saw one of the little boys my daughter was playing with under the carport. He is four years old. I opened the door, not thinking too much about the visit.
“What do you need, Buddy?”
He smiled. “Ella is in trouble by the police.”
I laughed. Ella, a smart lively young girl, was not a child to be in trouble with anyone, especially the police. Becoming a police officer is on her long list of career possibilities.
“Tell her to come home.” I closed the door.
I went to the back door to make sure Ella was on her way. What I saw next is one of the two images that appear imprinted on my mind every time I close my eyes. A police officer was kneeling on one knee reaching to the ground. I knew. I knew. I knew. I screamed to my older daughter that I thought Ella had been hurt. I ran down the hill and realized I was screaming and sobbing. Then I saw the second image that floats into my mind just as I start to slip into a sleep. One of her sandals, with a strap broken, hanging to the side, torn, was turned on its side.
The police officer looked at me. “She came out of nowhere. I never saw her. I couldn’t stop.”
From this point forward, I don’t have the courage, as of yet, to write about. I just can’t wrap my arms around the pictures that flicker in and out when I allow myself to be still. But in that moment that the police officer spoke to me, I became calm. I believe this calm came from God. I understood Ella had been hit by the police car. She was awake and not sure what had happen. I knelt beside the police officer and began to speak to my precious, panic-ridden child. I took her hand and began to speak in a calm voice. I talked through a throng of EMTs. I talked through an ambulance ride that seemed to last forever. I talked as needles were used. I talked as vital signs beeped and blinked on a screen. I talked through a battery of x-rays. I talked until the doctor came into the room with the best words I had ever heard. Only a mild concussion, badly bruised knee, and a deep cut under the eye. She could go home once the wound was closed.
I have been strangely silent, unable to speak of the personal hell I walked through. I couldn’t sleep and writing was a joke. I’ve always been able to write my way through problems.
My child was alive and healthy and I was overjoyed. Life was crystal clear. But at the same time I sunk head first in to the reality of the event. I have no control, none. This is a lesson I thought I had learned already.
Today I spoke to the investigating officer. I told him Ella was back to her normal fun-loving self. I ask him to tell the officer that struck Ella that we didn’t blame him and that we should all move forward and leave that day behind. But can I? At this point, I don’t think so. At this point, I think this experience has soaked into to who I am, transforming me once again.
When I hung up the phone, I was more at peace than I had been since this ordeal began. The images have not gone from my mind. Last night I began to cry to think I had to let go and send Ella back to school Monday. But all of this does not have the power that it held two days ago. Will it disappear? No. A close family member, who went through something similar, says the emotions can come back years later, but still we go on. We celebrate life and live it to its fullest.
And as you can see, I’ve been able to compose sentences again. God is good. Count your blessings today. In this way you honor our wonderful, dynamic little girl we call a miracle.