Earlier last week there was some suspicious buzz on the campus Facebook page that something had gone terribly wrong. Thankfully the admin for the group shut comments down on the post quickly. The letter soon came from the President of the College. One of the Freshman had taken his life while in his dorm.
It hit me hard, as we could have just as easily gotten the call back in September. Instead we got the call from Youngest, mid attempt. We had the chance to scoop him up, to withdraw him, to take a deep breath, and try and start over. This student's parents did not get that chance.
I woke up on Sunday to another cryptic post from a casual friend. Her boys are the same age as mine more or less, so our circles over lapped quite often. We'd pick up our respective Youngest's from kindergarten every Wednesday at the school. She later remarried and moved to the mail route I deliver on. Her new husband had 4 kids, in addition to her two, so they had a full house. One of his sons wrestled with Youngest. On one of the non-local two day sectionals her husband and I found ourselves at dinner killing time and quickly realized we had gone to High School together. She and I find ourselves at the mailbox quite often, talking about the kids. She knew what was going on with Youngest long before many others, and I knew when they finally had to decide to throw his son out because of poor choices. She rarely posts anything on FB, and almost never anything personal. When she changed her profile picture to her Oldest and her nephew (also from town, a few years older than Oldest, one of like 7 kids), my gut said something was up.
She too, had gotten a call. Her Oldest, the one who had just moved out 18 months earlier and was doing really well in his chosen career, the one not on the radar, had been in a car accident. His cousin was also in the car, along with another boy in the back seat.
While the accident details are fuzzy, her Oldest broke his leg. The break caused an arterial issue and he was flown to the city to not bleed out. Her nephew, whose birthday is today, broke both his legs, his pelvis, and part of his spine. As of right now the spinal damage is not in the cord, thankfully, but when the car caught on fire, it burned 10 percent of his body. The boy in the back, less injured than the others, freed himself from the car and went back in to free the other two. He is the reason they survived.
The road that lay ahead is exceptionally hard for both of them, and with COVID restrictions is harder to travel virtually alone. He is self employed, and while he has health insurance, he has no sick time. If you don't work, you don't make money. There is a Go Fund Me set up that's already exceeded 16K, a small drop in the bucket for the both of them, but it's a start.
And again, it hits me, as we were there in the hospital also, one year and 2 weeks ago exactly when Youngest rolled the car on the highway. Again, I was able to pick him up, bring him home, and try and start over. And thankfully she can too.
With every day that passes it feels like I hold my breath. No matter how good he's doing, or not. It seems the only time I can exhale is when he's home sleeping in his unmade bed. My hearts mourns for the students parents, and for my friends who had their breath stolen with one vibration of the phone.
I guess that's the downfall of parenthood that no one talks about... the endless amounts of time we hold out breath, wondering if it will ever be safe to exhale.