I didn’t think it was going to happen so soon. One minute, she was with me and the next moment she was gone. I didn’t fully understand what happened to her and to be quite honest, I didn’t care too much. I just wanted her to come back, but I knew all too well that she wasn’t going to. Standing in front of her open casket was probably the toughest moment of my entire life.
When I got the phone call at four o’clock in the morning, I knew something was wrong with someone. That’s what usually happens when you get a phone call in the middle of the night… it usually means that something terrible happened to one of your family members or friends.
In this case, it was my daughter.
It took me a moment to realize that the ringing was the phone and not my alarm clock. I kept trying to shut the alarm off, groaning that it was already time to wake up when I in fact still had two hours left.
“It’s the phone.” My husband whispered as he rolled himself out of bed. I clearly wasn’t going to be moving anytime soon.
“The phone?” I sat up straight in my bed and watched my husband walk out into the kitchen. Who would be calling us at such an early hour?
Well, I was certainly awake now. I jumped out of bed, threw on my bathrobe, and rushed into the kitchen after my husband.
“It’s… the hospital.” He announced with great confusion as he read the caller I.D.
“The hospital? Why is the hospital calling us now? We don’t know anyone who is in the hospital.” I panicked.
“Shush,” he picked up the phone.
He wasn’t on the phone with the nurse very long, but it seemed like an eternity to me. We didn’t know anyone in the hospital at the time, so I assumed they had just gotten the wrong number. However, you don’t talk to the nurses over the phone for very long if they don’t have any of your family members with them.
My husband hung up the phone and slowly turned his head to look at me.
“What? What is it?” I put a hand to my mouth gasping.
“It’s Maria… go get dressed and I’ll explain everything on the way.”
I had just seen my daughter Maria the previous day. She was fine. Nothing was wrong with her. We had a great time together. We went out to the mall for our Christmas shopping. It was an annual tradition for us to get our Christmas shopping done together. It was a great bonding time for the two of us.
Ever since she turned 18 and went to live at her college campus, we didn’t get a chance to see each other very often. Sure, she called every night to say hello, but it just wasn’t the same. She worked while she was in college, too. She slowly saved her money so when she graduated; she found a small apartment for herself. I never thought that my one and only child would move out at the exact age of 18. Don’t most children end up moving out in their early 20s due to money issues? I guess I should have been happy my daughter didn’t have money problems and that she was able to leave the nest at the normal age of 18.
That was where she met her fiancé. He had the apartment right next door to her. Eventually, he moved into her apartment to save some money on rent. His best friend ended up moving into his old apartment and the formed a small group together.
While Christmas shopping, Maria told me they finally set a date for the wedding. She had one more payment left to go for her school loans. She and her fiancé were close to saving enough for a down payment on a house. She left the nest a long time ago, but she was officially able to start her life now. I was happy for her.
“She was driving herself home from the mall yesterday and another car hit her. He was texting and driving.” My husband explained to me as we hopped into our own car to get to the hospital.
I didn’t have many words then because I was too much in shock. I didn’t believe a word he was saying. I had walked Maria to her car and watched her pull out of her parking space and drive away. How was I to know that she was going to get hit by a car just moments after?
Now that I was standing next to her open casket I had many things I wanted to say, but couldn’t voice through the tears and the lump in my throat.
Maybe if I had just waited a few more seconds before allowing her to leave. If I had just made one more idle conversation and asked her what her plans were for the rest of the day, it would have taken her long enough to tell me that the driver would have already been long gone.
Maybe if I didn’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk to tie my shoe. If I only I decided to tie my shoe in my car after Maria left. Maria would have been in her car and on the road long before the texting driver was even able to get near the mall.
A moment earlier, a few moments later… would it have really mattered? Would Maria still be here with me if I didn’t tie my shoe or if I stuck up one last conversation? There are plenty of drivers out there who text; who is to say one them wouldn’t have crashed into her?
My husband put both hands on my shoulders and massaged them. “The wake is over; let’s go home and get some rest. We’ve got a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”