It was 9:30pm, and we got the phone call that no parent ever wants to get. It was a call to our home phone from someone we did not know, telling us that our son had flipped his car on a curving road in the hills of our town. As we all panicked, I found a small amount of hope, knowing that he was conscious enough to tell our phone number to the stranger at the scene.
We quickly got into our car and drove to the location of the accident. As we turned a corner, we saw a scene which I hope to never see again. Unfortunately, it is a picture which is forever engrained in my head. I saw endless emergency vehicles and flashing lights. And I knew that all of these people were there to help my son.
I remember jumping out of our car and running through all the firemen and police and saying "that is my son" and not much else. Of course, the emergency personnel would not let me near the overturned car, as they were trying to free my son from the vehicle, but I saw it. The convertible car surrounded by countless firemen and EMT personnel. A sight that I never want to see again.
My son was transported to the nearest hospital which has the best trauma center, and he is going to be OK. He got so incredibly lucky, ending up with 35 staples in his head, a concussion, but not much worse. All I could think about, as we watched him in the ambulance and trauma room, was how different this could have turned out. And that picture, one that did not ever occur, is stuck in my head as well. That picture now haunts me.
At the hospital, my son, who will turn 18 this Friday, said "this isn't going to be a very good 18th birthday" and all I could do was be thankful that he is going to have one!
At 3:30am, he came back to our house, head bandaged and surely about to have the longest headache of his life. As these images flash through my mind, the mind of my wife and daughter, our heads all hurt as well.
I tried to sleep, but that damned picture keeps popping into my head. As I laid in bed, tossing and turning, I realized that sleep was not going to come easy, and for the first time in many years, I now have a picture that I wish I could FORGET.