In July of 2014, Ricky and I were in Portugal for his brother’s wedding. It had been a lovely trip. We were able to go to Paris, France first for five days to enjoy the romance and history of such a neat city. My sister-friend and former exchange student from eleven years ago, Juliette, also lives there with her husband and new baby so the main point of stopping in Paris was to see them. Spending time with them was the best night of that trip and it felt like we hadn’t missed a beat. How amazing that she and I have grown in such similar ways and how incredible it was to see her as a mom and to meet her child.
After France, Rick and I headed into Porto, my now sister-in-laws home town and readied ourselves for wedding festivities. We were welcomed into her aunt’s home our first night in for sardines fresh off the grill and it was the perfect start to that part of our vacation.
Little did I know, that during the same time we were flying into Portugal without a care in the world, my parents were in Arizona, crashing along a guard rail on the highway in a three-car accident that would result in a fatality.
I received a text from my mom the next day saying “Dad and I are fine, but…car accident….broken wrist…surgery…heading to hospital to pick him up”.
I called her immediately, international roaming be damned, and was relieved to hear that they were fine.
My mom suffered heavy bruising where the seatbelt was on her body; my dad had bruising along the leg he used to kick open the car door and had broken both bones in his wrist and had immediate surgery by a hand surgeon. They were sore, but alive. My mom explained how she didn’t know how my dad had gotten them out of the path of danger once they were initially hit, but she credited him with them not rolling or causing more damage. They were the only car of the three that didn’t flip.
That is our part of the story.
There were two other families involved in this story. One, a couple in a van who were beaten up but released from the hospital. The other, a family of five: two parents up front, and three young kids in the back. The kids survived, but were internally hurt. Their father survived and ended up facing charges and jail time. Their mother was killed.
I do not know anything about this family other that what was stated above. I do not know if they had a loving relationship. I do not know where they lived or went to school. I don’t know if they were good neighbors, their family traditions, where they were coming from or where they were going. All I know is that three kids started their day with two parents, and ended it with none.
I am so grateful and thankful that my parents are ok. God knows I need them in my life. They guide and support me. They are nonjudgmental and understanding. My emotions can be volatile and I am definitely not ready to face life without them in it.
I can’t help but ask, why me? Why do I get to keep my parents?
I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. I am religious, spiritual and a genuine believer that everything is meant to lead to our destiny. This, combined with the loss of my first pregnancy earlier this year led me to wonder if maybe I was wrong? Maybe life is a little more random?
What could possibly be the reason for three young kids’ parents to be taken when my brother and I, two 30-ish year old married adults who have already been raised, parents were spared?
Lives aren’t taken or given because people deserve them. It is random. It would be ego-centric to think otherwise.
I don’t believe that things happen for a reason, but I do believe that when things happen, the way we choose to react to them can lead us to or keep us from our destiny. This is a new concept for me but it seems so much more accurate. I believe that God leads me to make the right decisions and to act with grace when tragedy befalls me. I believe that there is strength to be gained from having faith.
What I can do is pray for the family whose lives were changed. I can take this close call as a reminder to soak in the time I have with my family. I can be thankful that my parents were protected and that they have more time to enjoy these great years in their lives.
We are always learning in life and at 28, this makes sense to me.
One month after the accident, together at a family wedding. Left to right: my brother Sam, his wife Roni, my husband Ricky, me, mom, dad.