Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Ultimate Nightmare

Have you ever had the kind of nightmare that causes you to wake up in a cold sweat?  Like the kind in which a stranger calls to tell you that the people you love the most have been involved in a car accident?

Well, I have.  It was called Tuesday evening.  Except I didn't wake up from it because it was real.

There I was, humming along to my Pandora mix and putting the finishing touches on all the appetizers and desserts I was preparing for my book club when a stranger called to tell me that Ryan and the kids were involved in a car accident on their way home from eating out.

It had to be the absolute worst moment of my entire thirty something years of being.

I, of course, became hysterical.  The saint on the other end of the line reassured me that the kids were scared, but fine.  Ryan, however, was a different story.

He had a seizure while driving the kids home from the restaurant.  According to Sydney, his head flopped to the side, he began shaking as the van veered across three (usually congested, but at that exact moment, thankfully open) lanes of traffic.  They went up and over a median and then halfway up the concrete embankment of an underpass's turn-around-lane wall.  At that very moment, a car came through the turn-around lane and was able to stop before hitting the door right next to Evan.

This driver of that car turned out to be an angel sent from God.  She got Sydney to unbuckle her booster and then unlock the van.  She then managed to lean across the still seizing Ryan, put the van in park and turn it off.  She called 911 and helped him through his seizure (no easy feat - I know from experience).  Because they couldn't find his cell phone, she convinced Sydney to tell her our home number and called me.

I did an absolutely horrid of job of trying to calm Sydney down over the phone (being completely hysterical myself) and hurriedly called my parents to ask them to go sit with the kids while I made my way there.  Fortunately, they live just a few minutes from where the crash site.

My poor neighbors.  Who knows what they were thinking when I ran over to their house and pounded on their door until they answered.  Sweet people that they are, one offered to drive me to the scene because heaven knows I was in absolutely no condition to drive at that point.  I  could barely breathe; driving was out of the question.  Her husband offered to tell all of my book club friends that the evening's meeting was canceled.

That was the longest drive of my life.  I have never prayed so hard.  My neighbor dropped me off at the scene, but traffic was too bad for her to be able to stop.  I ran as fast as my short, stubby legs would let me and fell into my mother's arms.  Not my finest moment.

I checked on the kids first and they were fine.  Evan looked like he had no idea what was going on.  Liam's eyes were red, like he'd been crying and Sydney was just as, if not more, hysterical than myself.  I reassured them that everything would be OK and just I was turning around to run to the ambulance, it pulled away.  My mother reassured me that Ryan was fine, considering what had just occurred; he'd been lucid enough to talk to her right before I got there.

I drove the van home after the police officers asked me a few questions and my mom bathed the kids and put them to bed while my dad and I made the now all too familiar trek to the emergency room.

Ryan was fine.  He didn't hit his head when the van finally came to a halting stop and the airbag didn't deploy so we're guessing that he wasn't going all that fast.  His neurologist has told him to double up on his anti-seizure medication and make a follow-up appointment.

In the meantime, he is not allowed to drive.  His driver's license hasn't officially been suspended yet, but it's just a matter of time since the police had to file a report.  And even if they don't take away his license, I'm not going to let him drive for a very, very long time.

I've talked about angels before and I am convinced that angels were everywhere during this whole thing.  The lanes of traffic that they crossed are almost always congested with cars (as in several thousand cars pass through that intersection during the evening rush hour), but at that exact moment, there were none.  The van also missed the six gigantic cement pillars that hold up the freeway overpass.  The woman who stopped to help them and call me was definitely an angel here on earth.  I found out where she works and I'm going to try to locate her and give her the biggest hug imaginable.  My parents are angels for taking control of the situation and looking after the kids while I made my way there.  My neighbor, who said she completely lost it after I got out of her car and she saw exactly where our van ended up, is an angel for getting me there safely and attempting to calm me down on the way.

What did I learn from this?  For one, count your blessings.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Your life and the lives of those you love can change in an instant.  Second, there are genuinely good people left in the world.  The evening news may make you doubt that, but in a crisis, people, even complete strangers, can and will do the right thing.  And third, I learned just how much I love my family.  I mean, I knew I loved them.  Of course I love them; they are my family.  But in that split second when I thought I'd lost them all, I found out just how desperately I love each and every single one of them.

It's been a couple of days now and I've finally calmed down and the adrenaline has finally left my system.  At some point, we're going to have to tell those around us, not just our family and closest friends, what went on.  People are going to start to wonder why Ryan never drives anywhere or why he's working from home.  I'm sure it will be awkward, but it is what it is.

I'm just happy to have everyone home safe and sound.  The rest doesn't really matter.


  1. Tien said...

    I am shocked and speechless... I am just glad everyone is okay. I am in total agreement: your family was surrounded by angels that night. The lady who stopped and helped is a saint. Your parents and neighbors are saints too! Thank you for sharing this. It is a reminder how blessed we all are.

  2. Oh, Jana. There are no words. Thank goodness for all of it. xoxo

  3. Oh Jana! I am shaking so bad right now just reading this, I can't even imagine how you felt on that phone! I am very glad that your angels were watching over Ryan and the kids. You know I believe in them very much. Love and hugs to all of you.

  4. I am so incredibly sorry you guys went through this and SO GRATEFUL for all the little miracles that occurred to keep your family, and other drivers on the road that day, safe from harm.
    Sending much love and saying a big prayer of thanks that you are all ok!

  5. Wow, I read this at work and now I'm shaking. I read your blog all the time and am so glad everyone is o.k. How totally terrifying; I got a call like that when my husband was hit by a car when he was riding his bicycle (and there were angels there too). Thank the Lord that there were angels for your family!

  6. I can't even imagine the horror. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you or your family. I'll keep praying for Ryan and hope he gets better.

  7. This is one of the times we wish we weren't so far away. We are trying to not think of what "might" have happened and concentrate on the miracle that did happen! The Lord was definitely there with His angels protecting Ryan & the kids. For that we are eternally grateful! Ryan (and you and the kids) have been mentioned in our prayer groups at church ever since the first occurence. Needless to say, we will continue to pray for a healing of these siezures and for all of you as you adjust to this new phase of your lives. We love you all dearly and miss not seeing you as much as before when we were still in LA. Please give hugs to the kids from us and consider yourself and Ryan hugged also. Don't hesitate to call if there is anything we can do.

  8. Wow, what a scary experience for everyone. I'm surprised with Ryan's history that they haven't told him to stop driving before now. I only had a possibly seizure (never any brain activity that there was one) and was not allowed to drive for 5-6 months. That's torture. I'm sure this is all hard on you, but I'm so so glad that everyone is OK.

    I'm always amazed by random people helping out in emergencies like this. There is always someone who will shine and be an angel.