What happened when we saw something horrific

On the way home the other evening we came upon an accident immediately after it had happened.  Apparently a car pulled out in front of a motorcycle, which then ran into the car and sent the driver flying.  We saw the driver of the motorcycle laying on the road face down, not moving, with blood running out of his head.  We had no warning that it was coming or I would have had my kids look away – instead we all saw him.

The kids immediately panicked and asked if that would happen to them.  What if we get in a car accident?  Is his head broken in half?  These are hard moments for me.  Moments when I have to set aside my shakiness and instead find calm, reassuring words to ease my children’s minds.  Moments when I don’t especially HAVE calm, reassuring words.  I found them though (or God gave them to me).  And we prayed for him.  We got home, had supper, and the kids went to bed without bringing it up anymore.

Then it was time to make lists and plan for our upcoming trip to Tennessee (enter looming danger music).  The short version of this story is that Chad and I had what I would call a dumb fight.  A fight about nothing really serious, but we made it serious with harsh words and harsh tones – something we’ve mostly outgrown in our 12.5 years of marriage.  Towards the end of it, Chad blurted out, “I’ve had a long day, and I saw a dead man on the road!”  And there it was.  The real reason for our fight.  This was still in our heads and we never gave it a chance to escape.  We called a truce for the night since this was going downhill fast.

The next morning, the image of the man was still in Chad’s head because he couldn’t leave for work without things being ok between us.  We had a new perspective on leaving the house angry.

Then as I was driving the kids to school an ambulance went by with its sirens on and Ada asked, “Mom…is there ANOTHER accident?”  I don’t know, baby.

That entire morning I couldn’t drive without crying.  Every time I looked at the left side of the road I saw that man lying there.  Every time.  So I went to a dear friend’s house who listened to me, let me cry, and prayed with me.  (Side note: don’t ever take it lightly being a safe person for someone to cry with.)  After that driving slowly got easier for me.

That weekend we were driving through Louisville when we came to another accident with multiple fire trucks.  Before we even know whether or not it was bad we made the kids look away.  They thanked us.

I don’t know what the point of this is.  Maybe it’s that if you see something horrific, give yourself time and opportunity to process it so it doesn’t pop up in secret ways – a fight, concern when you hear sirens, panic when you see something that might also be horrific.  Get it out of your head before it consumes your head.  Talk with your kids about it to see what’s in their heads.  And cover it in prayer.

I know people have seen worse than that.  I haven’t.  I hope not to top it.

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