As a coach, I know that gratitude is essential in order to lead a full, content and joyful life. Focusing on what one has rather than obsessing on what one "lacks" is key to mental, spiritual and physical well-being. I've always been a "glass half full" person until this week; now I am a member of the "glass is overflowing" club.
What changed is the near fatal car accident three days ago in which my 18-year-old son, Ethan, walked away with relatively minor injuries, including staples in his head to close a laceration, a sling to stabilize and help heal the soft tissue damage in his shoulder, and other bumps and bruises. Ethan's two passengers didn't even need to go the hospital. I am keenly aware that mere inches separated Ethan from having a future, or not.
A mere 72 hours ago, Ethan was waiting at a red light. When his light turned green, he looked both ways to check for pedestrians, saw there were no oncoming cars, and began driving through the intersection to turn left. Out of nowhere, or as the expression goes "like a bat out of hell," a minivan came barreling through their red light and hit just in front of the driver's door, crumpling and totaling Ethan's car. Had the minivan hit slightly more to the rear of Ethan's car, the outcome would have been unthinkable. The driver of the other car admittedly "was not paying attention."
Five minutes after the accident, Ethan called to say my husband and I needed to come to the accident scene, which is about a quarter of a mile from my house. I asked him if he was OK, and he said yes, but his head was bleeding. As my husband and I walked out of the house, we heard sirens and knew they were on their way to our son--every parents worst nightmare. I was heartened that Ethan was the one to call, knowing he was alive, but the sirens sent a chill down my spine.
I focused like a laser at the accident scene, running from my car to find Ethan in the gathering crowd. There he was, holding the new white t-shirt a witness had given him to help slow the bleeding from his head. He couldn't move his left arm. The police and EMT were already there and in action, checking out these three boys, all of whom wore seatbelts. It wasn't until at least five minutes later that I noticed Ethan's car in the intersection, facing in the opposite direction from when it was hit. The car looked like those accidents I drive by and think "I hope those people survived." Now it was my kid.
Nine hours later, we left the emergency room and came home. I had my boy with me. I will say that again: I had my boy with me. He was in one piece, walking, talking and breathing. There were no skull fractures and no internal damage. He was coming home where he belonged.
My sense of gratitude, which I used to think was high, has now reached the cellular level. Every part of me is grateful beyond words. The pizzas delivered to my house to feed the dozens of friends who came to visit Ethan smelled better than ever. The laughter of these wonderful teenagers playing Scattergories in my family room filled the house with the sweetest music ever. Even Ethan's eyes look bluer than ever.
My cup overflows.