Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Accident

Last week, I was in a car accident.

Wait. Hold on. Let's not get over-dramatic here.

I was in a car wreck. 

Nope. Still not right.

A car incident?

Anyway, here's what happened. And here's why I'm thankful that it happened.

I was on my way to take my son to school, with both of my kiddos strapped in their respective carseats in the back seat. I was telling them the story of the "Three Little Pigs" (again), per my son's request. I was behind a mini van at a stoplight. I needed to turn right. So, I began to pull into the right turning lane, which put me directly next to the van


My driver's side mirror was shattered. There was a baseball-sized hole in my door. What in the world?!

I looked at the van and saw a 50-ish-year-old woman in the driver's seat and large, grown man in the passenger seat. I quickly pieced together that the man had attempted to escape the car and had flung his door open with such force that it had caused my mirror to shatter and door to be damaged. 

I was shaken. Confused. And being riddled with questions by my son, who was also unclear about what had just happened. 

I called my hub, who instructed me to call the police. But just before I could hang up with him, I saw the man begin punching the woman. In the face.

Yes, you read that right. He was punching her in the face.

She was trying to push him away. He would stop momentarily but then go after her again. 

My gut instinct kicked in. I jumped out of the car to try and help her.

Then, my common sense (and motherly instinct) kicked in. I jumped back in my car to protect my children and myself, if need be.

I called 911 and was immediately patched through to the police department. As I was describing what was going on, a stroke of good luck: Blue lights began flashing behind us. An undercover police car just happened to be in the line of increasing traffic behind us. 

I jumped back out of my car, "He's hitting her! He's hitting her!"

The police officer was calm as he explained to me something I never saw coming:

This was a well known family in the community. The grown man wasn't the woman's spouse. Or boyfriend. Or significant other. 

He was her son. Her grown son. Her grown son who was "severely autistic." Her grown son who was "severely autistic" who had been put on a new medication a few days prior and was now experiencing aggression as an adverse side effect. The family had an appointment with his psychiatrist and psychologist later that morning to change the medication and address his growing irritability, agitation, and aggression.

I was in the wrong place at the wrong time

Or, maybe, just maybe, the right place at the right time. 

He had tried to escape from the van. We were sitting at a busy intersection. My door stopped him from escaping. 

He was her adult son, with severe intellectual disability and autism. I am a child psychologist. And Momma.

Once he was calm, and his momma and I were able to talk, she sobbed, repeatedly insisting that he is truly a sweet boy. This behavior I had witnessed was the medication. 

As tears filled my eyes, I reiterated over and over: I know. I know. I believe you. It's not him. It's the medication.

I explained to her my history of diagnosing and treating children with autism spectrum disorders. I get it. I mean I really get it. I know it's not him. I know it's the medication.

There were tears. Hugs. Words of encouragement. And, as I finally drove away, a big smile and wave from her son. 

So, why am I thankful that this happened?        

I am thankful that I was there to offer her a kind smile, a warm embrace, and words of encouragement, prayer, and understanding. She is a Momma. I am a Momma. Our children may be different, but it's clear we Mommas, we love our children with all we've got.

I am thankful that she was there to remind me of the beauty of motherhood. The strength of motherhood. The grace of motherhood. The love of motherhood. 

So, thankful. Yes, I am oh so thankful.

And with that, I am off to soak in my family for the rest of this week of thanks and giving.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. See you next week.


  1. I think you were really in the right place at the right time, because if you were not there, you would not have been involved in the accident. Rather, you would be witnessing the accident of a man trying to jump out of the car. It is really something to be thankful for. Even though you had been in a small accident with minimal injuries, you probably prevented anything worse from happening – in fact, you might have even saved a life.

    @Maggie Malone

  2. I don’t know if I should call that an accident, but what happened was really outrageous. While reading your post, I thought it was just a typical car accident, but no! The old woman must’ve been really grateful that you were there. It could’ve been worse if no one had noticed it.

    Amy Baron