My baby girl, my third daughter, turns twenty this month. After experiencing two births already, she carried easy and with her, my water broke for the first time. Certainly she would arrive soon! But she fooled me. Contractions came and went and stalled…walking the hospital hallways to help restart labor, the option to induce labor was around the corner. With all of today’s conveniences and my excitement to meet my new cherub, the Potossin invaded my uterus. Within two hours she came to us @8:00 a.m, July 10, 1994. Fairer than her sisters, we all marveled at her preciousness. And the miracle of birth awed us once again. Her big sisters delighted in her, holding her and singing lullabyes. My mother came to stay a few days, helping to settle us all in. I see her rocking her youngest grandchild in the chair she gifted us to celebrate this joyful occasion . I often wondered in later times, had I waited for those contractions to return on their own, might my tiniest girl been born July 11th instead-giving her claim to Gramma’s birthday? A tribute made more reverant since Gramma died before my newest babe even turned two.
The birthdays, even then, came and went so swiftly. At four, long blonde ringlets bounced down her back. Her sweet little voice ushered melodious jingles when she spoke and I oozed with giggly love every time she tried to form an “r” honing in on quite a New England accent. Being a working Mom, everyday I toted them, three car seats, bags of “tricks”, and my princesses. It was one day in March 1998, when a late winter snowstorm arrived. Somehow, given that it was nearly Spring, my mind tricked me into believing it couldn’t really be that bad out. And now that she was a big girl, I let her sit in the front on her booster seat, her sisters buckled up in the far back bench seat of the mini-van. Off we went. Nerves sweated my hands and brow as I quickly realized the slickness of the roads. Again, my mind betrayed with words of encouragement to go, go just a little farther before you decide. Ah, and as any mother knows, the whining and bickering would certainly enter in. Yes, in my snow “denial”, jittering nerves gripping the wheel and tempting of fate, those cute little sweet princess voices turned. In my retort, the van found a punctuating patch of ice and the steering wheel turned. All DMV instructions for pulling out of a skid, or rather driving into it, never, I mean never found their way to my reflexes as instinct held onto the wheel and my foot laid heavy on the brakes. I let out a scream as my paralyzed reflexes allowed the van to perform a 360° across the lane as another car approached.
Accidents in slow motion. Life flashes by. My eyes see the fearful, perfectly beautiful face of my child sitting next to me. Through the passenger window behind her, I see a small tree getting closer and closer. I hear the crying screams of my Big Girls, aged 5 & 6, behind me, so far behind me in that “mini” van! My mind only harbors the horrid thought, “What will the end of this picture be?”. CRASH! More screaming. More crying. Silence. Jolted into the bark, the passenger door leans into the tree. My glasses were thrown off my head with whiplashing impact. Before I knew it, the older girls had unbuckled. I grabbed my youngest and we quickly exited the driver’s door meeting the other two at the sliding door behind me. Huddled and whimpering, quickly assessing that we were in fact fine, we were escorted into the property owner’s house for comfort until the police and ambulance arrived. Within minutes my girls and I regained our “senses” as we wiped away any remaining tears. We were fine. We were indeed fine.
Stories to memories and memories to stories. “Tell me a story of when you were a little girl” they all use to beg. Over time, they realized that The Accident would be one of their stories. One time in recalling the details, I told my youngest daughter what I had seen behind her through that window and my fear for her. You see, we had locked eyes that day, but I was so afraid she would turn to look out her window. I held my breath, my fear paralyzing any action to save. And the thought of her head hitting the tree numbed my whole being. And then she told me her version in one simple sentence. But Mom, you just kept saying, “Look at me. Look at me. Look at me.” Her words stunned me because not only did I not remember saying that, I am convinced that I did not say that! I remember screaming, but she heard words . I remember looking into those eyes, locked into those eyes with great intensity not only immobilized by fear, but by an energy, a presence, holding us drawn, like opposite ends of a magnet. And she heard a voice with instructions that kept her unharmed.
It was then that I realized that one of Gods angels protected one of mine. I believe her name was Virginia, a Gramma who left us too soon, and my Michaela born perhaps hours too soon, shared that day in a way that only two Angels of July may ever know.