Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lizzy's Close Call

I've always thought God must have big plans for Lizzy. Today I got proof that this girl is going places. There is no other way to explain how she survived what happened this afternoon.

The boys were at a movie. Lizzy wanted to go to the park, and I needed to go to the grocery store. Lexi agreed to go to the park with Lizzy if I'd take Morgan with me. I offered to give them a ride to the park, even though it's just a few blocks from our house. They said no, they'd ride their bikes. I was nervous about that, but Lexi is responsible and Lizzy listens to her (better than she listens to me, actually). Lexi loves babysitting, and I thought this would be good practice for her.  I gave Lexi a quick lecture about responsibility, crossing streets, and not taking her eyes off of Lizzy. Still, I followed in the van to make sure they got there. They crossed the first, busy street with no problems. I pulled over and watched from the rear view mirror for a bit. When I realized they were doing great, I decided to go a little further ahead and wait. I waited. And I waited. I was starting to get a little nervous when I heard Lizzy scream. It wasn't her usual goofy scream, it was a something-is-wrong scream. I started driving toward them.

I didn't know what had happened at first, but my heart was racing. I saw people standing around, bikes on the sidewalk, Lexi holding Lizzy, and Lizzy holding on tight to her big sister. I thought maybe she had just fallen off her bike, but I knew from the crowd gathered, it was something bigger than that. It was.

Here's the story I have pieced together: The girls were riding along, Lizzy about a foot ahead of Lexi. A pickup started backing out of a driveway. There was a blazer also parked in that driveway, preventing the driver from seeing Lexi. Lizzy is so small, he didn't see her in his mirror. He backed out, Lizzy fell off her bike and under the pickup. She screamed. Lexi screamed. The pickup kept moving. Lexi jumped off her bike and started pushing the tailgate of the pickup, trying to get it to stop. Finally it did. The driver got out, started swearing and yelling "oh my God, I killed someone".

Amazingly, he did not kill anyone. Lizzy was under the pickup. She had apparently realized she better duck and fall off her bike so she would fit under the pickup. The driver never heard her screaming. He only realized something was wrong when he saw Lexi in his mirror.

When I pulled up, he apologized a dozen times. I wasn't sure at the moment what had happened, but I said he was fine, and from what I gathered, didn't do anything wrong. Lexi and Lizzy were both shaking and both totally freaked out. This happened across the street from Jake's cub scout leader's house, who happened to be outside at the time. Just before I pulled up, he told Lexi he'd give them a ride home, and she had asked to use his phone to call me. He said it was simply a case of  bad timing. I think he was a little shook up too. I know I was, and still am.

The driver of the pickup took off shortly after I arrived. I'm sure he's been thinking about what happened ever since, and no doubt double and triple checking his mirrors when driving. Lexi felt terrible, and kept saying how she would never have forgiven herself if Lizzy would have been hurt. I tried my best to assure her it was not her fault. There have been hundreds of times Lizzy has riden her bike far ahead of me. I've been several houses back pushing the stroller. Lexi was much closer than I would have been. She at least was in a position to help. I cringe to think of how far away I would have been. By the same token, I don't think Lizzy or the driver did anything wrong either. It wasn't anyone's fault. Lizzy was watching for cars, as much as a three year old can, and the driver, I assume, did look in his mirror before backing up. Lexi is scared to ride her bike. I can't say I blame her.

I'm still shaking as I write this, and it's been more than nine hours since it happened. I've said a million prayers of thanks and will say a million more. I hugged all my kids a little tighter today and told them all how much I love them over and over again. This incident was a good reminder that life is short, and can change in an instant. It's important to let those you love know just how much you love them. The near-miss also made me think about each of my kids and the gifts they have, especially Lizzy. She may be loud, hyper and stubborn, and she may drive me crazy most days, but she is also sweet, funny, caring, and smart. I can't imagine my life without her. The fact that she only has a scrape on her knee tells me that this kid has an amazing future ahead of her. God wants her here. He's got a plan for her. I can't wait to find out what that is.

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