My son almost got hit by a car tonight.
(Breathe Mom, I said almost. He’s fine, I promise).
We were leaving a friend’s house after a very sweet shabbat meal. We were a big group; me and 8 kids, it was dark – the tippy-tail end of shabbat- and we were trying to cross a relatively busy main street. The more mature among us were watching the traffic on both sides of the street as one of the girls said: “After this car, Go!”
My boy heard: “Go!.”
That child ran like lightening into the street. He wasn’t looking anywhere but straight ahead. He had NO idea that a car was coming at him on his right at 35 miles per hour, less than 3 feet away from him.
All this happened in a collection of nano-seconds of course… but as my brain computed the whole scene, I saw everything in front of me as if it were unfolding in freeze frames.
I knew, I just knew, in the same way you know you have to sneeze or pee, that I couldn’t reach him no mater how fast I moved. I didn’t decide that I couldn’t reach him in time, or surmise it…
I knew it.
That’s the part that’s wedged in my heart like a splinter. The undeniable knowing that scary, terrible, tragic, unrewindable things happen.
In spite of all that knowing and still shots of what could-be’s, the brain (bless it) overrides what we can’t do with what we can. So my lungs and vocal cords took over hard and fast and I screamed. “CHEZI! C-A-R! STOP!” (or some version of that). Many of the kids yelled too.
Bless the child, bless his heart, and bless sweet, Merciful G-d, he did hear us in time, and he did stop in time, less than a yard before he ran into the moving car.
Tfu, Tfu, Tfu.
The driver only started to break after my boy had stopped. Poor guy didn’t see him coming either.
It took my son some time to process what had almost happened. As I held him tight, steadied my breathing, broke down the scene step by step, and repeated Thank You G-d, Thank You G-d, Thank You G-d, I think – I hope – it started to sink in.
There is a particular flavor of gratitude that only comes after a slow waltz with palpable fear. I know there are countless people out there with stories far more gruesome without this blessed ending…
I know, I know. May they know comfort.
Still… my throat hurts from that primal-soul scream my body released. I can feel the burn with every swallow.
And as sit here, on the floor on the 9th of Av (the most tragic day in all of Jewish history, a fast day and a day of public mourning) with my sore throat and now my sore back (from this totally awkward position) trying to connect dots… connect and channel that whisper of agony I felt just hours ago to the story of our people ….
If I’m being honest, all I can think about is my boy. My son. My Chezi. The one I make a yarmulke for with my hands on his bare head when he says the shema before bed, the one I would do anything for to keep safe and healthy and whole… And while, I sense that on this tragic day in Jewish history, I should be connecting to things bigger than me, bigger than my personal narrative…I have to trust that real connection to concepts beyond me begins with a real connection to concepts within me.
So, for now, I’m just going to sit with this gratitude, and try my best to let the taste of the words “Thank You G-d, Thank You G-d” sooth my sore throat and extend that mantra as a prayer to every parent alive.
Blessings to all for to long, safe and peaceful strolls on Gratitude Road.