This morning I woke up feeling very lucky. My parents are alive. Today could have been the worst day of my life.
I came home last night from a school meeting, pleased with myself that my inappropriate comments went over well, and I didn't put my foot in my mouth too much. I opened the door and heard the words that froze my entire body.
"Your parents were in a car accident tonight."
It was the longest pause I've ever had to endure. Life with my parents truly flashed through my mind, and I was numb, trying to prepare myself for the next words.
"But they're fine."
Now, I wish I had heard the second sentence first, but I fell onto the couch, shaking with relief. My parents were driving to a friend's house when a car slammed into the passenger side of their Acura, shattering glass all over my father and throwing my mother into the steering wheel. The passenger side airbag deployed, saving my father from being stabbed by so much glass, but his nose was cut, his eye hemorrhaged, and he is bruised and battered. The airbag did not deploy on the driver's side, which prevented my mother from having her chest crushed. Still, her chest burned with pain, and an ambulance rushed them both to the hospital to check for heart attacks, broken bones, and internal injuries. The other drive is also fine, thank God, and they all walked away from what easily could have been a fatal accident. The car is totaled, and it doesn't matter.
My mother didn't want to tell me at first because I am prone to panic, especially when it comes to something horrible happening to the people I love. I have an unhealthy fear of that late night phone call, the police at the door -- the news that someone who is important to me has died. Death of my loved ones is inevitable, and I can't control it. This is something that is very hard for me to accept.
I got off the phone with my parents, who, though shaken, were okay. I felt grateful, lucky, and stupid for letting the small stresses of my day (a sick kid, parking tickets, a very long to-do list) get to me. I am so fortunate to be very close to my family and to always have their support and love. They have encouraged my every dream and passion, even when those dreams and decisions didn't align with their own. We have just gotten back from a week-long trip to the Dominican Republic. Ten of us, together day in and day out, enjoying our time together more every day. Not everyone has a family they know has their backs and loves them unconditionally. Not everyone has both or even one of their parents. Today, I realize that I truly have it all.
So, this morning, I have some perspective. It's freezing cold here in Toronto. I don't care. I have piles of work to do. I don't care. I have a wrinkly tummy. I don't care. All I care about is that my parents are safe, and I get to hear their voices for another day.
This perspective won't last long, I know, because the minutiae of life takes over, and I forget. But today I remember how much I have.