They're alright, you know? They are old enough to spend a few hours on their own. When I was their age? I was babysitting other kids. They have each other and the dog. The television and their video games. They know not to answer the door. Not to let anyone in under any circumstance. They know how to call 9-11 and for what limited reasons it is appropriate to do so. They know how to get in touch with us, know where we are and when we will be home.
It never occurred to me until I felt the impact of the truck slamming into the back of us, until I hear the glass crashing around us, and until I saw the look of absolute horror on my husband's face as the other car, the one who set off the horrible chain of events, went skidding into oncoming traffic, nearly taking out an ambulance, what exactly would happen to them if something happened to us.
Because it's easy to worry about them. It's easy to worry if they are ready and if it's right. To feel the relief the first time they are home alone for 20 minutes and the house is still standing. To think of how we've tested the waters for a while now...slowly working our way up to what's comfortable for all of us.
I will not soon forget, though, the lightheaded feeling I had when I opened my car door and stepped out into wreckage, broken glass and car parts littering the road. I will not forget the women in the truck behind us, crying as she was loaded into the ambulance. I will not forget how my husband was shaking so hard I did not know if he could hold the phone in his hand. The screams of the passengers in the vehicle that caused all the damage. And the sudden, sick-making realization that if one minor thing, just one little thing had been different? We could have never made it home.
It is amazing to me that sitting at a stoplight, on our way to a holiday party, our lives could have been ended thanks to someone else's irresponsible choices. I'm thankful that we were not hurt, unlike the people in the three other vehicles. We got the least of it. We're okay. Our car is hurt, but we're okay.
But what would happen to them? I choked out a painful laugh when I said to Jason, "They wouldn't open the door for a police officer Jason. They wouldn't open the door for GOD." And they wouldn't. I've told them to never, ever. And they wouldn't.
But what would happen to them, if something happened to us? As much as I hate that thought, as much as that thought takes the air out of my lungs, I'm really going to have to consider it.
We were lucky. We are lucky.
But what if there is a next time? Will we be lucky again?