Monday, June 16, 2008

The Accident

Esmé's Mommy here.

Ever hear about the hero who just happened to be at the right place at the right time to save a life and wonder what you would do in the same situation? Me too.

We were rushing to the South African border early yesterday morning before dawn when we came upon the scene.

You see accidents more often than not when you drive in Mozambique - the roads/drivers here are atrocious. But this was the first "fresh" accident with fatalities that I'd seen. No crowds had gathered around yet to start the cleanup process.

That sounds so dehumanizing. Someone's father/brother/son wasn't gonna make it home for father's day. Nothing trivial about that.

In the car on our side of the median, the driver appeared to be dead. A passenger lay on the sidewalk, his life ebbing away. Another passenger with a deep gouge in his foot hobbled around in a daze, muttering "I wasn't driving."

We stopped, and my husband and Dan (a videographer visiting with us for a couple of days) got out to see what they could do. I, I did the easy thing. I stayed in the car with the baby, rationalizing that it wasn't safe to leave her while the accident crowd gathered around.

There's no 911 to call in this country. In the end, all we really did was drive ahead to find the police, who we never did find, but we did locate TRAC guys (who maintain the toll road we were on) and ask them to contact the police. Then we proceeded on to the border.

I've had first aid/CPR training. There might have been something I could have done to help. But if I had to do it over again, I would make the same choice - to stay with the baby. Yet it's still eating at me that I did NOTHING.

Every day I face decisions where I put my child ahead of whatever other good deed I could be doing. This was just one of the more obvious ones. Why do I feel such a sense of being torn between the two?


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Pam said...

I think being a mom sometimes means you have to do just what you did today. You choose your child over all other things. I would have done the same.

Summer said...

I would certainly be torn. I've actually even contemplated what I would do if ever I came upon a situation like that. Thankfully I haven't, but I've come to the conclusion that I would never leave my children alone in the car in the city we live in, not for an instant.

Simply Stork said...

you hit the nail on the head...that was some one's father, son or someone's something...we live in a world where people don't "bother" to stop anymore...?

you did stop and your husband got out to did your job and he did his...isn't that what life is all about?


just jamie said...

There are moments in our lives that etch a print forever. I witnessed a similar scene on an icy road that I can't bring myself to discuss, and yet the memory haunts me.

You made the choice to stay with your child. The story could have gone another way had you not been there to protect her. Your mother instincts can never be wrong.

Lis Garrett said...

You did the right thing. After all, your husband and Dan went ahead to see what they could do. Your obligation was to your child.

Wendi said...

Your merciful heart shows through beautifully in this post! God has given us special obligations and tender hearts towrad our children. He knows our hearts. He knows you cared deeply for those who you saw in this terrible situation.It's wonderful to hear of such compassion!

Susanne said...

That is certainly a decision that would tear one's heart. I'm sorry you had to be in a position to have to make it. You chose to go with your heart and protect your child. That is never wrong.

Genny said...

What a tough thing to see...and with no 911. I can understand why you feel torn, but you did the right thing...choosing your child.

angie said...

I would have made the same choice.......what a terribly tough thing to witness and have to think about.......wish it wasn't so hard. This post was really heartfelt.

Laski said...

It is easy to think back on what we should have done, could have done, would have done IF.

Simple fact is . . . your life is not your own anymore. You had to think of someone besides them or you.

We never know what we would do UNTIL we are in the same position . . . you had to follow you heart, which was sitting right next to you.

Michael J. Bennie said...

"Take care of your own," is often said in the context of nepotism, and sometimes I feel like a nepotist when I choose the good of my own over the good deeds I could do for others. In this case, I agree with simply stork; you played the mommy role, and daddy helped out the victims. Where I feel guilty is when I buy a plastic pool that will be in a landfill two years from now for MY kids, rather than support a child's physical, educational and spiritual needs through ADRA/World Vision/Compassion with the same cash. Every choice like this has life and death consequences, and honestly, has the power to make a bigger difference than your nominal medical training could have made for those critically injured victims. How much right do my kids have to luxuries just because they were born to me?

Kim Moldofsky said...

Wow. You are right. This is an intersting contrast to my Road Rage, Interrupted post. But my kids are older, we were in our hometown, and the police were just a quick phone call away (quicker if my fingers hit the right numbers!), no one got injured. Very different circumstances.

The two other people in your car did get out to help and you stayed with your baby while the inevitable crowd gathered. The only thing that bothers me about this is that it bothers YOU.

It's really something to resolve. If you're helping build schools in a poor African country, I'd think you're creating no small amount of some karmic good will, if that helps.

Focus on what you are doing right for your family and for the world, because it soudns like you are doing a lot.

Wifey said...

Wow! That's horrifying. Sounds like you and your husband did all that you could. Don't beat yourself up.

I have such a hard time with things like that, too. My husband will jump out of the car in a minute to go and help, but I get a little freaked out and prefer to help all I can from a distance - especially if the kids are there!

Memarie Lane said...

I would have done the same thing. It's not like you did nothing at all, your husband got out, and someone had to stay with the baby.

I read on another blog the other day about a guy in Rio de Janero that passed a guy lying in the sidewalk bleeding, which is pretty normal there. But something made him stop that time, and he tried to get other people to help but no one would, not even a police officer.