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

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