March 9th

I truly believe everyone has a before and after date. It’s the date that changes everything. Sometimes its a diagnosis, or a surgery, divorce, wedding, becoming a parent or an accident. In most peoples lives its not a dramatic shift, usually an event that forever has changed a part of you.

For me that date is March 9th. The past 25 years I have hated, dreaded, hide from, denied, accepted, challenged and appreciated March 9th. This was the date that altered our whole life forever.

I started writing a book 2 years ago. To be honest I have not gotten very far. My intentions have been strong, but unfortunately my heart is not. I suffer terribly from PTSD, something that I have always had but only surfaced dramatically 5 years ago. Trying to write this book has sadly caused flashbacks, anxiety, fear, frustrations and emotional distress. I have decided to share with you an insert from my book. It is a rough draft, unedited, raw, hopefully easy to follow sketch of my March 9th, 1995.

I am not sure if I will ever have the strength to finish this book, reliving some of those moments and emotions is very difficult. I also believe my story isn’t over and maybe thats partly why I’m struggling. It has been 25 years and so much has happened in those years. Revisiting memories causes me severe anxiety, and is that really worth it?

Below is an insert from my writings, please keep in mind this is unedited and my account of the events. If i ever do get the chance to work with an editor/ author I would hope I would be guided in a way that could bring more life to my words. Thank you for reading~

March 9th, 1995 started out as a typical day. I remember putting Braden down for a nap that afternoon. He didn’t sleep and I was worried about him going to the baby sitters without any sleep. I asked him to go get his boots, and we put his coat on. He was giving me such a hard time that afternoon, it was only because he was so tired. I had to get to work a bit early that day because I had to photocopy some pages for a craft I had prepared for my after school kids.

We really needed to get out the door, my mind was set on getting him to his daycare. When we reached the car, I had placed my supplies in the backseat and then went to put Braden in the car. At that time, there was no rules or regulations around where the best place is too place a car seat in a car. Earlier that week my car had been under repair and I was having to take cab’s too work. But I finally got my car back, and i was so happy to have that.

When Paul had placed Braden’s car seat in my car he stood there contemplating whether or not too put it in the back seat. (This is something that would come back to haunt him down the road). I however preferred to have Braden in the front seat, beside me so I could reach him. This particular carseat did have a tether strap which was attached to the top of his seat. So, technically you could put the car seat in the front of the vehicle but there was no instructions on what to do with the tether strap. I know Paul struggled with this, and I am so sorry that I didn’t listen to him when he said he felt more comfortable with the seat in the back.

(There were not as many rules and regulations placed on car seats and how to properly install them in 1993. I am so thankful to know, that after my car accident there was a universal shift in the law regarding the proper installations of car seats. I like to believe our story has made a difference.)

I was a twenty three year old young mom, who was more concerned about reaching him if he needed something while I was driving.

On this day, he didn’t nap so he was very grumpy by mid afternoon and he didn’t want to get in his car seat.  He was fighting with me and arching his back so I couldn’t strap him in. I was so frustrated, he was crying, I was running late and he wasn’t cooperating. He was only being a tired toddler.  I finally got him in his seat, tears rolling down his chubby cheeks. Off we go, the sun was warm that day. It was the beginning of March so there was still a crisp cold feeling. I didn’t need my winter coat, because in the sun while driving it was nice and warm. Not much snow on the ground, it was melting away.

I had backed out of our driveway, and for a moment I heard Paul’s voice tell me to left. Take the back way, its an easier drive to get across town. I’m not sure once again why I didn’t listen to that inner voice. I probably should have. Instead I went right. I took the challenging route. I headed down our street and at the end of it I turned left. This took me to a stop sign, it wasn’t an intersection technically it was a highway. So the only stop signs were the one across from me, and the one that I was stopped at. I had felt the sun at this point, so warm. It was causing such a nice feeling of comfort. I had a cassette tape playing, one that I had had for a few years with many of my favourite songs on it.

Braden had fallen asleep, shit. Now he would be out of sorts for the baby sitter and probably give her a hard time. I knew my mom would be picking him up a little later and giving him dinner. He’d be happy to see nana and papa, they’d keep him awake for me. Paul would be there to get him once work was over. I would join them later that evening once all my children were picked up from their after school day care. Those professional parents who had long days, commuting and tired at the end of the day. They always look exhausted when they were coming in to get their children. It made me sad to see them almost dismiss their child’s pleas to listen to their stories about their day. Many time’s they’d be quieted and ushered to get their coats and boots on then rushed out to their running vans to get home for dinner. I always wondered was the money really worth leaving their children all day in the hands of others? Not having a connection with the most important people on the earth?

I sat at that stop sign, looking at Braden. Thinking too myself “such a brat, why couldn’t you have napped today?” There was a white van sitting at the stop sign across from me. There were students coming and going from the high school that sat diagonally across from me.

I looked left, checked right and then waited for the white van to proceed and make his turn. As he pulled out from his stop sign turning left onto the highway crossing the yellow line and heading down the road. I look left again, and then proceeded out onto the road to make my left hand turn. As I was just crossing the yellow line myself I heard the loudest crash ever. It didn’t register at first where that loud obnoxious noice came from, and I couldn’t see where it was because everything went black. Oh my god, I can’t see and my car is spinning. Braden, I reach my arm across for Braden and he is there. He isn’t crying so that’s a good thing. He can’t be hurt if he isn’t crying.

But he was too silent, and that silence was terrifying. He made no noise, no movement and no response to his surroundings. I looked out the front window of my car, there was another car about 30 feet ahead of me. I couldn’t see the driver, holy shit is he dead? Where is he? I couldn’t worry about that right now, my eyes returned to Braden and my thoughts resumed back to him. He was trying to scream, I could see his mouth moving but nothing was coming out. I needed to make eye contact with him, so I got out of my car and ran to the passengers side door. This was the first view of my car, the door had substantial damage. I had such a hard time trying to open that door, but when a mother is desperate to save her baby the strength comes from a fire so deep inside it nearly frightened me. I managed to pry the door open enough to get closer to Braden. He was still only looking forward with his mouth gaping open trying so hard to scream. Deep inside me I knew this was not good, but all I keep thinking was thank god he is alive. Tears were running from his eyes, and now I could see the blood trickling down his face. Where was the blood coming from, I was so confused. He was in a car seat, he didn’t leave the car so how does he have blood on his face. I knew not to touch him, but honestly I was terrified. I started looking around and noticed people coming from the high school. Some neighbours approached as well. One teacher came running across the street and went straight to Braden in the car. He could see Braden was having trouble breathing so he cautiously tilted his head back enough to provide a clear air entry. Someone from the high school  had called 911, but they seemed to be taking so long.

My bother and sister in law lived just a few houses away from the accident so my brother in law came out once someone went to get them. I asked him to call Paul at work, and to meet me at the hospital. I remember when I first saw him, what a relief it was. Amongst all these strangers finally a set of eyes I knew. He ran back to his house to make the phone calls, I didn’t’ see again until we were at the hospital.

While waiting for the ambulance I kept checking in on Braden sitting there so silently. He did not lose consciousness. Those eyes stayed open, he was searching for me. I had to be close, but I was so scared. Was he going to die? What have I done? I need to get to work, I remember being so concerned about getting to work. I’m going to be late, it did’t register immediately with me that I would not be going to work.

I was beginning to open my eyes, things were becoming clearer to me, Braden wasn’t moving. He wasn’t moving his arms or his legs, his head stayed still. The only thing I could see moving was his eyes, how terrified they were. The blood on his face was coming from an open wound on his forehead. How did that happen? He had a gash right in the centre of his eyebrows. I realized then that any noise from him would be reassuring. I just wanted to hear him scream, parents can get agitated so quickly at screaming crying children but when its taken away from you suddenly there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to hear that baby cry. Breathe.

The panic was setting in, the police arrived with ambulance and firefighters. Everyone was on scene at that moment. This is when I thought of the other driver once again. I looked back up to his car and saw the firefighters assessing him. I didn’t even think of him, I was certain at this point he was alive. My concern was not with him however, my world was crashing and I was battling with myself  to stay present. Focus.

Braden’s colour was changing, he no longer looked like that perfect cherub pink chubby baby that only 10 minutes ago filled my world with love. He was a grave shade of grey.  He was so still, his tears stopped and so did his will to cry. I will never forget the feeling of looking into my baby’s beautiful blue eyes and seeing the life slowly begin to leave, like a grey cloud coming in to block the sun from shining. Each breathe he took was further and further apart. He was like a fish out of water, gasping for a breath, struggling with every muscle he had still working for him. The battle to live was there and I could see that, my baby was not giving up.

 I was paralyzed with fear. I wasn’t able to move, I could see everything that was happening around us. The sirens were blaring all around me, people were screaming, there was a police officer trying to ask me questions. I couldn’t talk, all words have escaped me.  I need to get to work, what will happen to the children in my after school program. I told one police officer that I needed to get to work, and he looked at me with such concern “you won’t be going to work today”. I just could not make sense of what was happening, my mind was filled with so many thoughts. Where was my husband, I wish he was here. I want someone to hold me, please tell me everything is going to be ok.

The scent of the car fuel was so strong, the sirens were overbearing and the road had me pinned, I could not move. Standing at the side of the road watching countless people try to help my situation. I felt helpless, benumbed but mostly disabled. Physically incapable of moving, yet still managing to smell, see, hear and taste absolutely everything that was spinning erratically out of control right in front of me.

It’s true what you see in movies when there is a tragedy and those effected stand in the moment dazed and confused. The director portraying their world spinning around and around them while the character is still. It does happen, that feeling of calmness at the core but chaos circling around you. Knowing the minute you take one step forward the whole world is going to hit you like a hurricane. The moment you know one step from this safe spot is going to send you  into the swirling funnel of turmoil and you know its going to be painful.

Eventually the EMT’s carefully removed Braden from the car and transferred him to the ambulance. I wanted so badly to go be with him. Please can I go in the ambulance? They wouldn’t let me, I didn’t realize until a few years later that they didn’t allow me to go with them because they were not certain he was going to survive the ride. They ushered me into a police car, my first thought was “am I going to go to jail?” I had never been in a cruiser before, I was terrified. To make the matter worse, the officers front seat was covered in papers so he asked me to get into the back of the car. Sitting there, all alone wiping my tears and wanting to throw up I sat quietly with thoughts running through my head. Guilty?

Am I guilty? That’s something I will live with for the rest of my life. I will consistently fight that battle, constantly reminding myself that I did not set out that day to purposely crash my car causing my son a devastating injury.

How will I live knowing that’s exactly what happened? I pulled out into oncoming traffic that I didn’t see. The injuries he sustain may have been prevented if I had only looked one more time too the left. Why was I in that exact spot at that time? What if I had taken my time putting him in the car seat, I would have missed him coming up the hill that beautiful sunny day. I would have avoided this disaster.

We made our way sirens blaring, lights spinning red and blue. I was silent in the back seat of that cruiser. Confusion set in again, my mind was on Braden and how he was doing in that ambulance. I don’t think I had any thoughts of him not surviving this crash. He was still showing signs of life as they moved him to the ambulance. I suppose a part of me still felt he was going to be fine, he wasn’t crying, kicking or screaming. It’s terrible scene to see, your child so still in a situation which he should be physically protesting and emotionally voicing his displeasure.   It hadn’t occurred to me just how serious his peacefulness meant. I didn’t know if Paul had been called, I was hoping he was on his way and meeting me at the hospital. There was no cell phones back then, how comforting it would have been to be able to call him during that time.

Where we live there is an intersection that connects our city with all the small junctions that make up Cambridge. It’s called the Delta, it is apparently the largest intersection in Southern Ontario. There was at that time approximately 12 lanes that link to those traffic lights. In order to get to the hospital we have to go through the Delta. I had happened to look up as we drove through, hoping the light would be green. I was nervous there’d be a stall and the ambulance would  have to wait for clearance. It was surreal to see at each lane there was a police officer and a car with flashing lights blocking the traffic, giving us clearance to make our way straight through that intersection. Each police officer standing in front of their cruiser with their hands crossed guarding the way so my son could get to the hospital. I remember at this time finally realizing “this is serious”.

When I got to the hospital, the police officer led me in. I still hadn’t seen Braden. I started asking for him and they assured me he was still with us but they were doing tests to see how stable he was. They ushered me into a patient lounge which was private, as we made our way there I saw Paul and my mom coming down the hallway. Finally, familiar faces that brought comfort and security. The two people in the world who could only make this better.

I had to face Paul, I truly was terrified as to what he would say. Would he be angry with me? Is there going to be blame? As he approached I started to cry, I was so sorry. Both my mom and Paul came to me, and the first thing Paul said was “What did you do?”

That was the first and only time he ever placed blame. I don’t even think I had the chance to answer him. We had someone from the Chaplin services show up, we went into this quiet, dimly lit grey room. There was four chair’s. Very clinic, cold and dark. The Chaplin wanted to have a prayer, but our minds were on Braden. I had wondered if he was dying because the Chaplin had shown up. Paul, my mom and I along with my Aunt Ray who happened to be at the hospital gathered in a small circle standing side by side while this stranger with a bible led us in prayer.

Where is Braden? Paul went looking around for answers. He also realized his mother was going to be driving past my accident scene and knew she would recognize my car. He went to the desk and asked to use their phone so he could call his mother. She did pick up, and he told her I had been in an accident but I was fine. She asked about Braden and Paul said “we don’t know yet”.

The other end of the line went quiet, Paul heard a crash and then a slight moan. It was a noice he had never heard come from his mother before. Unfamiliar to this sound, he knew something had happened to her on the other end. “Mom, mom”…..nothing.

He hung up, told the front desk at the hospital that he thinks his mother passed out. Could they send an ambulance to his house. The told him unfortunately they can’t dispatch from the hospital, he’d still have to call 911. Try comprehending that, standing in the emergency room of our city hospital and being told he had to call 911 himself. That’s what he did, he called and asked for an ambulance to go to his mother.  He came back to the grey room, by this time the ER doctor had come to see me. They wanted to be sure I was ok. I honestly hadn’t felt any physical repercussions at this time from the accident. I remember everything went black when I heard the loud crash, and my knee was throbbing a bit. I’m not sure how I hurt my knee, maybe it was the steering wheel?  I touched it and realized it had been bleeding. As I was heading to the observation room, the trauma doctor stopped me to finally fill me in on Braden’s condition. My eyes were constantly scanning the area for him, I was becoming impatient and a frustrated. I just needed to see him, was he scared, was he moving any parts of his body yet? Things were feeling foggy again, this was too overwhelming. I felt like everyone was looking at me, everything was out of control Where is Braden?

The doctor was young, he seemed confident. He had a presence about him that made me feel safe, he looked me in the eyes, standing straight and confident. Although he was young I still felt like I could trust his diagnosis and observations. The first thing he said to me was “he is doing ok”, “ but we are sending him to Hamilton McMaster University Hospital”. He said they did an X-Ray and had some good news, “his neck wasn’t broken.” But they suspected something called Brachial plexus, which is a network of nerves in the arm pits and neck that work to move the shoulders, arms and hands. The nerve damage in his upper arm was caused by the car seat straps. Devastating. We were experiencing so many emotions. Relieved he was alive, thankful his neck wasn’t’ broken but how would he function in a world made for two arms? Baseball? Hockey? My dreams of a little hockey player was now being compromised. The sadness was debilitating, I was starting to feel the physical pain in my body. I just want to sit, my knee hurts, my jaw hurts and my little patched heart is completely shattered.

March 9th, 1995 started out as a typical day. I remember putting Braden down for a nap that afternoon. He didn’t sleep and I was worried about him going to the baby sitters without any sleep. I asked him to go get his boots, and we put his coat on. He was giving me such a hard time that afternoon, it was only because he was so tired. I had to get to work a bit early that day because I had to photocopy some pages for a craft I had prepared for my after school kids.

We really needed to get out the door, my mind was set on getting him to his daycare. When we reached the car, I had placed my supplies in the backseat and then went to put Braden in the car. At that time, there was no rules or regulations around where the best place is too place a car seat in a car. Earlier that week my car had been under repair and I was having to take cab’s too work. But I finally got my car back, and i was so happy to have that.

When Paul had placed Braden’s car seat in my car he stood there contemplating whether or not too put it in the back seat. (This is something that would come back to haunt him down the road). I however preferred to have Braden in the front seat, beside me so I could reach him. This particular carseat did have a tether strap which was attached to the top of his seat. So, technically you could put the car seat in the front of the vehicle but there was no instructions on what to do with the tether strap. I know Paul struggled with this, and I am so sorry that I didn’t listen to him when he said he felt more comfortable with the seat in the back. 

I was a twenty three year old young mom, who was more concerned about reaching him if he needed something while I was driving.

On this day, he didn’t nap so he was very grumpy by mid afternoon and he didn’t want to get in his car seat.  He was fighting with me and arching his back so I couldn’t strap him in. I was so frustrated, he was crying, I was running late and he wasn’t cooperating. He was only being a tired toddler.  I finally got him in his seat, tears rolling down his chubby cheeks. Off we go, the sun was warm that day. It was the beginning of March so there was still a crisp cold feeling. I didn’t need my winter coat, because in the sun while driving it was nice and warm. Not much snow on the ground, it was melting away.

I had backed out of our driveway, and for a moment I heard Paul’s voice tell me to left. Take the back way, its an easier drive to get across town. I’m not sure once again why I didn’t listen to that inner voice. I probably should have. Instead I went right. I took the challenging route. I headed down our street and at the end of it I turned left. This took me to a stop sign, it wasn’t an intersection technically it was a highway. So the only stop signs were the one across from me, and the one that I was stopped at. I had felt the sun at this point, so warm. It was causing such a nice feeling of comfort. I had a cassette tape playing, one that I had had for a few years with many of my favourite songs on it.

Braden had fallen asleep, shit. Now he would be out of sorts for the baby sitter and probably give her a hard time. I knew my mom would be picking him up a little later and giving him dinner. He’d be happy to see nana and papa, they’d keep him awake for me. Paul would be there to get him once work was over. I would join them later that evening once all my children were picked up from their after school day care. Those professional parents who had long days, commuting and tired at the end of the day. They always look exhausted when they were coming in to get their children. It made me sad to see them almost dismiss their child’s pleas to listen to their stories about their day. Many time’s they’d be quieted and ushered to get their coats and boots on then rushed out to their running vans to get home for dinner. I always wondered was the money really worth leaving their children all day in the hands of others? Not having a connection with the most important people on the earth?

I sat at that stop sign, looking at Braden. Thinking too myself “such a brat, why couldn’t you have napped today?” There was a white van sitting at the stop sign across from me. There were students coming and going from the high school that sat diagonally across from me.

I looked left, checked right and then waited for the white van to proceed and make his turn. As he pulled out from his stop sign turning left onto the highway crossing the yellow line and heading down the road. I look left again, and then proceeded out onto the road to make my left hand turn. As I was just crossing the yellow line myself I heard the loudest crash ever. It didn’t register at first where that loud obnoxious noice came from, and I couldn’t see where it was because everything went black. Oh my god, I can’t see and my car is spinning. Braden, I reach my arm across for Braden and he is there. He isn’t crying so that’s a good thing. He can’t be hurt if he isn’t crying.

But he was too silent, and that silence was terrifying. He made no noise, no movement and no response to his surroundings. I looked out the front window of my car, there was another car about 30 feet ahead of me. I couldn’t see the driver, holy shit is he dead? Where is he? I couldn’t worry about that right now, my eyes returned to Braden and my thoughts resumed back to him. He was trying to scream, I could see his mouth moving but nothing was coming out. I needed to make eye contact with him, so I got out of my car and ran to the passengers side door. This was the first view of my car, the door had substantial damage. I had such a hard time trying to open that door, but when a mother is desperate to save her baby the strength comes from a fire so deep inside it nearly frightened me. I managed to pry the door open enough to get closer to Braden. He was still only looking forward with his mouth gaping open trying so hard to scream. Deep inside me I knew this was not good, but all I keep thinking was thank god he is alive. Tears were running from his eyes, and now I could see the blood trickling down his face. Where was the blood coming from, I was so confused. He was in a car seat, he didn’t leave the car so how does he have blood on his face. I knew not to touch him, but honestly I was terrified. I started looking around and noticed people coming from the high school. Some neighbours approached as well. One teacher came running across the street and went straight to Braden in the car. He could see Braden was having trouble breathing so he cautiously tilted his head back enough to provide a clear air entry. Someone from the high school  had called 911, but they seemed to be taking so long.

My bother and sister in law lived just a few houses away from the accident so my brother in law came out once someone went to get them. I asked him to call Paul at work, and to meet me at the hospital. I remember when I first saw him, what a relief it was. Amongst all these strangers finally a set of eyes I knew. He ran back to his house to make the phone calls, I didn’t’ see again until we were at the hospital.

While waiting for the ambulance I kept checking in on Braden sitting there so silently. He did not lose consciousness. Those eyes stayed open, he was searching for me. I had to be close, but I was so scared. Was he going to die? What have I done? I need to get to work, I remember being so concerned about getting to work. I’m going to be late, it did’t register immediately with me that I would not be going to work.

I was beginning to open my eyes, things were becoming clearer to me, Braden wasn’t moving. He wasn’t moving his arms or his legs, his head stayed still. The only thing I could see moving was his eyes, how terrified they were. The blood on his face was coming from an open wound on his forehead. How did that happen? He had a gash right in the centre of his eyebrows. I realized then that any noise from him would be reassuring. I just wanted to hear him scream, parents can get agitated so quickly at screaming crying children but when its taken away from you suddenly there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to hear that baby cry. Breathe.

The panic was setting in, the police arrived with ambulance and firefighters. Everyone was on scene at that moment. This is when I thought of the other driver once again. I looked back up to his car and saw the firefighters assessing him. I didn’t even think of him, I was certain at this point he was alive. My concern was not with him however, my world was crashing and I was battling with myself  to stay present. Focus.

Braden’s colour was changing, he no longer looked like that perfect cherub pink chubby baby that only 10 minutes ago filled my world with love. He was a grave shade of grey.  He was so still, his tears stopped and so did his will to cry. I will never forget the feeling of looking into my baby’s beautiful blue eyes and seeing the life slowly begin to leave, like a grey cloud coming in to block the sun from shining. Each breathe he took was further and further apart. He was like a fish out of water, gasping for a breath, struggling with every muscle he had still working for him. The battle to live was there and I could see that, my baby was not giving up.

 I was paralyzed with fear. I wasn’t able to move, I could see everything that was happening around us. The sirens were blaring all around me, people were screaming, there was a police officer trying to ask me questions. I couldn’t talk, all words have escaped me.  I need to get to work, what will happen to the children in my after school program. I told one police officer that I needed to get to work, and he looked at me with such concern “you won’t be going to work today”. I just could not make sense of what was happening, my mind was filled with so many thoughts. Where was my husband, I wish he was here. I want someone to hold me, please tell me everything is going to be ok.

The scent of the car fuel was so strong, the sirens were overbearing and the road had me pinned, I could not move. Standing at the side of the road watching countless people try to help my situation. I felt helpless, benumbed but mostly disabled. Physically incapable of moving, yet still managing to smell, see, hear and taste absolutely everything that was spinning erratically out of control right in front of me.

It’s true what you see in movies when there is a tragedy and those effected stand in the moment dazed and confused. The director portraying their world spinning around and around them while the character is still. It does happen, that feeling of calmness at the core but chaos circling around you. Knowing the minute you take one step forward the whole world is going to hit you like a hurricane. The moment you know one step from this safe spot is going to send you  into the swirling funnel of turmoil and you know its going to be painful.

Eventually the EMT’s carefully removed Braden from the car and transferred him to the ambulance. I wanted so badly to go be with him. Please can I go in the ambulance? They wouldn’t let me, I didn’t realize until a few years later that they didn’t allow me to go with them because they were not certain he was going to survive the ride. They ushered me into a police car, my first thought was “am I going to go to jail?” I had never been in a cruiser before, I was terrified. To make the matter worse, the officers front seat was covered in papers so he asked me to get into the back of the car. Sitting there, all alone wiping my tears and wanting to throw up I sat quietly with thoughts running through my head. Guilty?

Am I guilty? That’s something I will live with for the rest of my life. I will consistently fight that battle, constantly reminding myself that I did not set out that day to purposely crash my car causing my son a devastating injury.

How will I live knowing that’s exactly what happened? I pulled out into oncoming traffic that I didn’t see. The injuries he sustain may have been prevented if I had only looked one more time too the left. Why was I in that exact spot at that time? What if I had taken my time putting him in the car seat, I would have missed him coming up the hill that beautiful sunny day. I would have avoided this disaster.

We made our way sirens blaring, lights spinning red and blue. I was silent in the back seat of that cruiser. Confusion set in again, my mind was on Braden and how he was doing in that ambulance. I don’t think I had any thoughts of him not surviving this crash. He was still showing signs of life as they moved him to the ambulance. I suppose a part of me still felt he was going to be fine, he wasn’t crying, kicking or screaming. It’s terrible scene to see, your child so still in a situation which he should be physically protesting and emotionally voicing his displeasure.   It hadn’t occurred to me just how serious his peacefulness meant. I didn’t know if Paul had been called, I was hoping he was on his way and meeting me at the hospital. There was no cell phones back then, how comforting it would have been to be able to call him during that time.

Where we live there is an intersection that connects our city with all the small junctions that make up Cambridge. It’s called the Delta, it is apparently the largest intersection in Southern Ontario. There was at that time approximately 12 lanes that link to those traffic lights. In order to get to the hospital we have to go through the Delta. I had happened to look up as we drove through, hoping the light would be green. I was nervous there’d be a stall and the ambulance would  have to wait for clearance. It was surreal to see at each lane there was a police officer and a car with flashing lights blocking the traffic, giving us clearance to make our way straight through that intersection. Each police officer standing in front of their cruiser with their hands crossed guarding the way so my son could get to the hospital. I remember at this time finally realizing “this is serious”.

When I got to the hospital, the police officer led me in. I still hadn’t seen Braden. I started asking for him and they assured me he was still with us but they were doing tests to see how stable he was. They ushered me into a patient lounge which was private, as we made our way there I saw Paul and my mom coming down the hallway. Finally, familiar faces that brought comfort and security. The two people in the world who could only make this better.

I had to face Paul, I truly was terrified as to what he would say. Would he be angry with me? Is there going to be blame? As he approached I started to cry, I was so sorry. Both my mom and Paul came to me, and the first thing Paul said was “What did you do?”

That was the first and only time he ever placed blame. I don’t even think I had the chance to answer him. We had someone from the Chaplin services show up, we went into this quiet, dimly lit grey room. There was four chair’s. Very clinic, cold and dark. The Chaplin wanted to have a prayer, but our minds were on Braden. I had wondered if he was dying because the Chaplin had shown up. Paul, my mom and I along with my Aunt Ray who happened to be at the hospital gathered in a small circle standing side by side while this stranger with a bible led us in prayer.

Where is Braden? Paul went looking around for answers. He also realized his mother was going to be driving past my accident scene and knew she would recognize my car. He went to the desk and asked to use their phone so he could call his mother. She did pick up, and he told her I had been in an accident but I was fine. She asked about Braden and Paul said “we don’t know yet”.

The other end of the line went quiet, Paul heard a crash and then a slight moan. It was a noice he had never heard come from his mother before. Unfamiliar to this sound, he knew something had happened to her on the other end. “Mom, mom”…..nothing.

He hung up, told the front desk at the hospital that he thinks his mother passed out. Could they send an ambulance to his house. The told him unfortunately they can’t dispatch from the hospital, he’d still have to call 911. Try comprehending that, standing in the emergency room of our city hospital and being told he had to call 911 himself. That’s what he did, he called and asked for an ambulance to go to his mother.  He came back to the grey room, by this time the ER doctor had come to see me. They wanted to be sure I was ok. I honestly hadn’t felt any physical repercussions at this time from the accident. I remember everything went black when I heard the loud crash, and my knee was throbbing a bit. I’m not sure how I hurt my knee, maybe it was the steering wheel?  I touched it and realized it had been bleeding. As I was heading to the observation room, the trauma doctor stopped me to finally fill me in on Braden’s condition. My eyes were constantly scanning the area for him, I was becoming impatient and a frustrated. I just needed to see him, was he scared, was he moving any parts of his body yet? Things were feeling foggy again, this was too overwhelming. I felt like everyone was looking at me, everything was out of control Where is Braden?

The doctor was young, he seemed confident. He had a presence about him that made me feel safe, he looked me in the eyes, standing straight and confident. Although he was young I still felt like I could trust his diagnosis and observations. The first thing he said to me was “he is doing ok”, “ but we are sending him to Hamilton McMaster University Hospital”. He said they did an X-Ray and had some good news, “his neck wasn’t broken.” But they suspected something called Brachial plexus, which is a network of nerves in the arm pits and neck that work to move the shoulders, arms and hands. The nerve damage in his upper arm was caused by the car seat straps. Devastating. We were experiencing so many emotions. Relieved he was alive, thankful his neck wasn’t’ broken but how would he function in a world made for two arms? Baseball? Hockey? My dreams of a little hockey player was now being compromised. The sadness was debilitating, I was starting to feel the physical pain in my body. I just want to sit, my knee hurts, my jaw hurts and my little patched heart is completely shattered.

The things to come were incomprehensible. Everything I ever knew would never be the same. I was never going to be the same~

March 9th, 1995- March 9th, 2020

100 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter #52 Never Buy Cheap Perfume

#52 Never Buy Cheap Perfume

Dear Fox,

Don’t do it. Do not buy cheap perfume. This is something that I could not do even when I didn’t have enough money for perfume. I just went without. There is nothing worse then walking around smelling cheap. Lol

I know there is worse things in life that this, and in some circumstances people don’t have a choice. That’s ok….for them.
There are some very expensive perfumes out there by world class designers which smell horrible. Be careful there too.

If you choose to buy cheap perfume I know within two hours you will have a headache, I’m saying this to save you from that.

Pick a perfume that your family will grow to love, a scent that when your children smell it they will think of you lovingly. A scent that makes you distinct from the other women that may walk past your man on a daily bases. Smell is probably the most sensitive sense we have.

Smells are important, it’s amazing how certain smells can bring memories back to you. Sometimes a scent can make a person think of a family member who they love, or loved. A scent can bring back a memory from a childhood trauma, or a happy, comforting scent that makes you think of a time when you were in a good place.

I believe your perfume is the first layer of your outfit, its what dresses your naked body. Choose well my love~

#97 Dance~especially when doing laundry

# 97 Dance – especially when you’re doing the laundry.

My dearest Kailey, always find a reason to dance even when doing laundry.

When I was young my mom always had music going in the kitchen. Actually my parents pretty much had music going all of the time. Every Saturday and Sunday morning the house would be filled with music.  

Initially it was the 8 tracks in the living room. Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, Elvis Presley…typically it was country music. I would wake up to these country tunes just outside of my bedroom. It was comforting and the music symbolized happiness. It was peaceful, and it was routine. Routine is safe, routine is comfort. I liked that. As an adult I knew it was something I wanted my children to feel. I knew routine was most important.

Coming home from school back in grade 6, 7 and 8  it was a give in that my mom had music playing in the kitchen. She always played something while preparing dinner. After  the country music came the 80’s tunes. Then it was the beautiful melodies of Michael Jackson, Phil Collins and Lional Ritchie that filled the house with aromas of teenage youth  Dreams of love, hopes of future relationships and fantasies of  what my life would end up being. Relishing in all my world revolving around me just as a typical teenager would. 

I can’t express how important it felt to have that comforting feeling of music throughout the house while growing up. 

There was only one time in my youth that the music stopped. It was the day mom papa died. My mothers father. When I came in from school that day, there was no music and my mom was in the kitchen making dinner. I knew something was wrong. There is nothing worse than seeing your mother cry. It was such a sad day, and as sad as I was for my mom and our family…I recall being worried that the music wouldn’t play ever again.

I can remember just as clearly the day I walked in from school and heard it again…I was so happy. Thrilled because it was a feeling of safety again, that our family was doing well and we were all going to be ok. 

When you hear music, good music…what’s the natural thing to do? DANCE!!

SO this is were my word of advice comes in for Kailey. I hope you can remember our kitchen, dancing when you are all grown and have a family of your own. Please try to recognize how it made you feel to see dancing, laughing and love in our home. It was always one of my favorite things to do while making dinner, I guess my mom taught me that. 🙂

There is nothing happier than a house filled with music and dancing, remember that! If you take that with you into your own family life, my darling I promise you’ll always have a reason to smile~

I can only hope that those summer nights, those Saturday morning tunes we shared in our own kitchen will stay with you. I pray you remember our beloved Harley dancing in the kitchen with mom. I can still remember getting you and Braden to dance, typically ending in a game of chase. 

I guess I can end this post with the reason’s that make the most sense for your name…from where my family comes from down in Nova Scotia, a kitchen party is called a “Kailey or in Irish dialect its Ceilidh”. Everyone would gather at the home of a dear friends house during the cold brisk winters in the east coast and have themselves a good ol’fashioned kitchen (Ceilidh) Kailey~

The picture above was definitely taken during a kitchen ceilidh. We were visiting family in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. My grandfather is the second from the left, with my dad beside him on the right. That’s me bottom middle, with my dad. 

I am sure this picture was also taken the same night. There is a long history of boxers in my family, it wasn’t a party until the men starting putting up their dukes and the women were dancing and singing.

I believe a happy home is a home filled with music. I hope you carry on that tradition and fill your own home some day. I will end this blog by saying some of our best memories have a song attached to it. Even your birth…”Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison I loved that song at the time I was pregnant with you. It even played a part in your name Kailey MacKensey~

Love you Fox, until next time good night and god bless~

When did I stop being mom?

That my friends is a loaded question. Did I every truly stop being a mom?

NO. I have always been a mom. But I will say, there were times I was not a mom first. I was a caregiver, therapist, nurse, occupational therapist, respiratory therapist and many other rolls I’ve had to fill. Somedays…mom was the last one on the list.

I know you probably can’t in any way relate to this. I am sure if you are a mother you are sitting there maybe feeling appalled that I could even admit to that.

Unfortunately for me, its the truth. And I still wonder to this day if I made the mistake of doing it all and not reaching out for more help.

Sometimes I could say the rolls I had were much like a schizophrenic. It depended on the need, it was the mask I had to put on. Being a mom in certain situations was not what was best for Braden.

I ALWAYS loved him like a mom, I mean there is NO love like a mothers love. Nothing ever wavered that.

But if I needed to become a hard nosed meanie boots…..being a mom wouldn’t cut it. You see as a mom, watching your child struggle, seeing them cry, feeling their pain all you want to do is take it all away. Unfortunately thats not in their best interest. Taking away that pain would never help him get better. Refusing all those treatments, hard work and dedication would not bring him to a state of health and happiness. The tears he shed were all for a good cause. A necessary cause…his life~

One of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a mother is shut off my mommy and pull out my therapist, nurse, doctor, physiotherapist roles…that my friend is what I mean by schizophrenic. Watching him cry through tracheostomy changes, Nasogastric tube changes, chest tube removals, therapy appointments, needles, range of motion, surgeries and overall pain as a mother was devastating. If I didn’t have the ability to see those things as they were, to better him, his health and over all well being then I too would have been distraught, crying and angry, What good would that have been for him?

It was in those moments, and please be kind when I say “I wasn’t his mom”. Not in the sense that only sees him a baby boy that’s hurting. From the moment he was reintroduced to me, in ICU with all those tubes, wires and noises I never once saw those things. I only saw my son.

We are almost 25 years post accident, post all those experiences that have led us here. When I look back, and really think about some of the choices I made I do believe some mistakes were made. If i were to ask my mom or Paul if they felt the same, they would disagree. I didn’t want any one else’s hands on my child. I didn’t want others opinions, input or expectations placed on me. Looking back that had more to do with me and my insecurities than it did with needing or wanting the help. I really wasn’t open to others coming into my home, I was very protective of him. No one could do the job better than I. So, I did it all. And today I am paying the price for that.

I suppose when I think about it, back then the guilt I lived with was astounding. It was loud, it was the loudest noice, voice, thoughts, feelings in my mind. It’s all I ever heard. “Look what you did” “He is paralyzed because of you”….It has taken me a lot of time and energy to let that go, its not completely gone but it is something I work at a every single day.

I felt during those years that I did this to him, so its my job and my job only to take care of him.

I gave myself a life sentence, and it was the biggest mistake of all. Because of that mind frame, many more mistakes followed.

If i were to mentor my 23 year old self, suffering through the most devastating time in my life I would tell that young lady to get more help. I did have a wonderful support system. Please don’t get me wrong, my parents were amazing. The didn’t skip a beat when it came to the things we needed. They stepped up like no other people in the world. My husband is/was by far the rock in all of this. He never gave up hope and he constantly supported each phase we faced. Someday I will do a blog post on just him, he really is the most remarkable man in the world. I do remember however, not putting expectations on him. I would feel if Braden became ill, or needing tending too..regardless of how tired I was I never expected Paul to get up and tend to him. I would jump up and do it. Immediately I felt like I did this to Braden, why should Paul have to stop what he is doing and tend to him. It was a life sentence I gave to myself, maybe it was punishment? I don’t have the right to sit and relax, I did this. Get up and take care of what you did. I silently lived this way for so many years. Sad.

I wish I would have hired more people to help. So many “get togethers” in the summer time, where I would be in control of the company, food, drinks, snacks, kids, parents and Braden. I was exhausted. If Braden wanted in the pool, I had to undress him, I would change him, put him in the pool and stay close to him. Then run to get drinks or freezes for our company. I ran, all the time. Then I’d get Braden out of the pool, dry him, dress him and transfer him to his wheelchair or motorized vehicle. Then I would be off again, tending to company, trying to hold down a conversation with whoever’s mother was sitting patiently while I ran around like a mad woman all after noon.

Keep in mind I still have another child, who thank goodness wasn’t needy. Or maybe that child just new not to ask much of me because she could see in mommy’s face how tired she is. Huge Mistake.

I should have hired more help. I should have had more staff available. People to come to birthday parties with me, so I could sit and enjoy those around me. Someone to attend play dates with me, so they could tend to all Braden’s needs. He needed help interacting with other children. Someone always had to be available to help him, sometimes Kailey did, sometimes his friends did but mostly I did. I never wanted to put anyone “out”.

All those hats I wore, each one of them chipping away at the only role I should have been…mom~

To this day, nearly 25 years later I still don’t know if given the chance would I do it differently. I’m not sure. But if I was going to give someone in a similar situation advice, it would be to hire more help. Give yourself a break, and take care of you~

100 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter #54 Retirement is a second chance to follow your dreams~

Typically speaking about retirement to my 22 year old daughter would be absurd. I mean you haven’t even started your career path. As of now, you still don’t know what you are doing in life. That’s ok. There is no rush, take your time and figure it out. Explore, learn, take chances and seek adventure. Do all this in your youth, but remember there is a whole lot of life to live before you get the chance to retire.

My advice to you, even though retirement seems so far away please start planning for it immediately. Retirement is not what it use to be. Our society was way more equipped to support the aging generation back in the day, sadly those days are long gone. Today it is our responsibility to take care of our own financial freedom for retirement. It is something to consider even before buying your own home. We become accustomed to a certain lifestyle when we work hard and follow our dreams. If you are lucky, you can afford a nice car, clothes that compliment who you are and entertainment that will bring you happiness. But once you reach a certain age and you want to retire, that income diminishes. You may want to continue wearing nice clothes, going to movies, travelling to foreign destinations but if you don’t have the financial freedom those things won’t happen.

It’s amazing to be young and be able to live the life you’ve dreamed of. Work hard, play harder.

I believe both your father and I would say if given the chance for a do-over in life, we’d say that we would have planned better for our retirement. It’s just not something we thought about, we didn’t worry about retirement. But it did creep up and if we hadn’t have made some smart financial decisions previously then dad wouldn’t have had the opportunity to retire at the age of 51. Well, technically he retired from his 9 to 5 job,got himself out of the office life at a nice young age. Thankfully he can still work from home and he has the ability to work on his own. We still have made sacrifices, we are not able to take as many trips as we would like. We don’t have new cars every four years, and we don’t buy “stuff” without thinking twice. It’s all worth it though, with dad being more available we have the opportunity to do all the things we’ve ever wanted. We are truly blessed~ I wouldn’t change it for anything. Well my lovelies, until next time…good night and god bless~

I swear 2020 is going to be a great year, I’m going to make sure of that~

This my friends is one of my New Years resolutions, I want to blog again as much as I can. I want to be more creative, i am actually happier when I’m being creative. I want to get my 100 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter and have it printed into a book. I have been blogging since April 2009, its been 11 years. At the time I started I was 37 years old. My kids were 14 and 11 yrs old. Today they are 23 and 26, a lot changes in 11 years. It seemed much easier back them to come up with ideas and topics. Parenting, marriage, teenagers, grief, special needs parenting. Now, I’m just an old married woman who seems a bit obsolete from giving advice or information on the topics that I once did.

I am a different person, and I’d probably give advice slightly offbeat from who I was those many years ago. Who am I today? I need to figure that out and share it with my space here in blogger world.

What I will share today is how our experience with Airbnb went two summers ago when we rented our cottage for the whole summer. We are huge Airbnb supporters, we prefer to use Airbnb when travelling, except when going to destinations that are meant to be of luxury. It’s not always relaxing if you have to cook your own meals and make your own beds, sometimes its nice to have that stuff taken care of for you! #allinclusisive

So, two summers ago we gave it a try. We turned our little cottage in to an Airbnb and it was the most fun I have had in a very long time. It was a lot of work, i did not hire a cleaning staff because to be honest I didn’t think it was going to be as busy as it was. I had two moments during the summer were I had to clean the whole cottage within 3 hours before the next group of people were scheduled to arrive. The first time it happened it was fine, the people that had just left the cottage were super clean. They probably tidied up too much. The second time it happened I started to cry. I was so overwhelmed. The place was a mess, it was disgusting. I even had to clean the whole fridge, they had some sort of cooking sauce that leaked out into the bottom of the fridge and stuck underneath the crispers. It was awful. They had mud on the screens of the windows, a neighbour informed us that they had water and balloon fights, Normally that would be fine, but at least spray off the mud from the windows and doors. 😦

Those people were also the ones who tried to tell me we had rats running around on the counters while they were playing cards late one night. They had too many visitors as well. We have rules about how many people can stay overnight. I will say I did feel sorry for the lady, she was the only adult with some teenagers and as they were standing around getting ready to leave as I arrived, she was frantically running around trying to collect things and tidy up the bit she could. She clearly had no help from any of them.

After they left, I cried. RATS?? What the hell? I have never seen a rat. What the hell was I going to do now? I have a family coming in with 3 little boys. I called my last renter before the dirty people and asked if they had seen any rats or any droppings from rats and they said no. I calmed down, got to work frantically cleaning the place. Called my husband who then called in a company to come and check for rats, mice, spiders, ants all the things related to cottage life. We now have a company that checks in constantly for mice and other critters. And for the record, the exterminator said there was absolutely NO sign of rats on or in our property.

Considering we rented the cottage for the whole summer, that really was the only issue we had.

One of my favorite memories of renting the cottage was when a mom, her sister and mother along with their 5 combined kids showed up while I was still there. The little boys came squealing out of their car running up onto the porch, so excited to get inside and check out their new accommodations. Those little boys were so appreciative, they gave me hugs and thanked me profusely. Cutest little fellows, that made my heart so happy, Knowing that my cottage was going to be a holiday for these kids, making memories and sharing experiences just made things feel so worth it.

Pretty much every Airbnb we stayed at would leave us some sort of treat or small gift upon arrival. This was another favourite part of mine. I LOVED coming up with personalized gifts for each family/renter. I will share here a couple of my cute little gift ideas:

Our first renters was a small group of friends who wanted to get away together for the long weekend in May. I made them this basket filled with yummy snacks. S’mores for the fire pit and chips, peanuts and popcorn. They loved it, they in return left us the nicest note with a bottle of Canadian Club and a captain hat! How cute is that!!

Well i am going to leave off here, just wanted to start sharing some information on our experience with Airbnb, I’ve got more!! Will share soon.

Until next time, good night and god bless~

Returning to Blogging 2020

Dear friends, readers, fellow bloggers…I am happy to say that I will be returning to blogging this year. I apologize for dropping off and not keeping up with each of you. I promise i will catch up with everyone. I will make the effort to bring back the love I have for blogging. Life has changed, things are not the same around here. It is much more difficult to find topics around family life when your children are grown and living their own lives. All I’ve ever really known is being a mom, being a mom to a medically fragile son who is now an adult. I had a short term being a nurse. Went back to school in my 30’s to challenge myself and change who I was. I worked for about 2 years and then retired that belt due to family life, and some PTSD. So, here I am working in a new kinda field, mostly from home and unable to discuss things due to privacy. What can I write about? It’s going to be difficult, some days might just be like this…me rambling on and on. Nonetheless, I will work at it. I know I will find my niche and come back with some sort of content. SO bare with me friends, I’m looking forward to reading your content. Catching up with you~ Until next time,

Good night and god bless~