The Call

Last Sunday evening I got the call every parent dreads. My 16-year-old son had been in a serious car accident on his way home from work. 

I will never forget the sound of his voice on the other line: small, scared and panicked, and the feeling of my heart landing with a thud in my stomach.

After confirming that he was uninjured, and calling his dad, my boyfriend and I raced to the accident scene; the 5 minute drive feeling like an hour and a half. Adrenaline pumping through my body so fast I felt like I could run to the accident scene faster than the car could drive. 

Arriving to the scene felt like a dream. I jumped out of the truck and ran toward my son. Hugging him like I had never hugged him before, the fear gently subsiding as I held his intact body. Slowly, I began to take in the details around us. Our car smashed up beyond recognition in the middle of the intersection, a group of incredible heroes standing by to support the drivers, the other car involved parked halfway into a nearby parking lot, the driver seemingly unhurt as well. 

Events were flashing before me like Polaroid pictures… A kind man putting himself in danger of incoming traffic trying to move our car over to the side of the road. Rushing to help him push the car, my son and the young driver of the other car joining in. The police arriving. The kind man hugging my son and telling him that he will be okay. The witnesses sharing what they saw. My son sitting on the curb, head in hands, silently beating himself up. His dad and I gently consoling him. Statements to the police. The car loading onto the tow truck bed, one headlight hanging down like Wall-E. Speaking with the tow company. My son sitting catatonic in the back seat of our truck. The sound of my heart beating outside of my chest. My son saying he’s sorry over and over again. Tears rolling down my face as I tell him not to worry about it. The gratitude that filled my heart that he and the other driver were alive. 

Neither of us slept that night. The next morning, my son flopped onto the couch, exhausted from beating himself up all night and trying to figure out a way to make the accident unhappen. Having been in many car accidents myself (totaling three cars and damaging a few other), I knew how he felt. Before I could think about what to say, these words flowed from my mouth:

✨ It’s just a car. It’s replaceable. You are not. I would much rather deal with finding a new car than suffer the unimaginable loss of you. 

✨ Instead of looking at what you could have done differently to make it not happen, accept that it did happen. The sooner you accept what is, the sooner you can forgive yourself and accept the gifts of the experience. 

✨ You can write this chapter of your story from one of two perspectives: the victim or the HERO. Who do you want to be? 

As he, sat there absorbing my thoughts, I could almost hear the wheels turning in his head. 

A few hours later, we were on the phone recounting the details of the accident to our insurance agent. My son took full ownership of the process, asking good questions and speaking with integrity.  Later that morning, we visited the tow yard to get the items out of the car. Again he showed up for himself. Taking in the wreckage, even cracking a few jokes (at his mother's expense). And that afternoon he and his dad went to the accident scene again so he could bravely face the experience in the light of day.  While he never outwardly said the words to me, it was clear he had chosen to be the HERO of his story. 

The truth is, we don’t have to wait for something major to happen in our lives to be the HERO of our story. We can harness our incredible power to honor, embrace, respect and own the true HERO inside of us any time we want. All we have to do is choose. Choose to answer the HERO's call. Choose to say NO to the voices of judgment, self-pity, guilt and shame. Choose to show up and see our experiences for what they are: opportunities to grow. Choose to hold ourselves in the highest regard; acting with integrity, love, respect, grace, and even joy. 

We all have moments that happen every day where we get the opportunity to choose. Where we get to show up for ourselves. Whether that is speaking up in a meeting at work, setting a boundary, or simply staying in the present moment. The phone lines are always ringing. Victim on line one. HERO on line two. Whose call are you choosing to answer??

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