"Dear God: Thank you for the reminder of my mortality. Now cut that sh*t out. Amen."
The above (slightly blasphemous) prayer is something I came up with back in 1988 when, beginning with my grandfather on January 2nd, we either had a funeral, an unveiling*, or news of a death literally like clockwork every 6 weeks. Nonstop. All. Year. Long. (There was one short gap -- during which we had to put down the family dog.)
Well, I found myself whispering that prayer again today.
AJ had a full to-do list for today, including some activities with the Pipsqueak, some professional visits, shopping, even a veterinary appointment for one of the cats. She managed to get the Pipsqueak to & from Little Gym without incident, but ran into a little trouble on the way to the vet.
A little trouble as in spending most of the day in a local ER after someone cut in front of her at high speed and hit AJ's full-size SUV so hard that when it finally came to a full stop it was resting on its roof and my sister & niece were hanging upside-down in their harnesses.
Happily, many strangers stopped to help (plus there was a fire station just a few blocks away), and while AJ's Highlander is likely a complete write-off all the engineering did what it was supposed to; everyone (even the cat!) came through the accident with only bruises and a few scratches.
I can't tell you what I felt when the phone rang just after noon and I heard my obviously shaken mother say, "AJ just called, she's been in an accident and they rolled over, she's in an ambulance but she doesn't know which hospital they're taking her to and I could hear Miri screaming in the background, we're on our way to pick you up."
By the time I jumped into the back seat of Mom & Dad's car, we knew where we were going and that everyone we at least roughly in one piece. When we got to the hospital, we were told only two people could go into the ER to visit at a time, so I hung out in the lobby while Mom & Dad went back. After wandering back & forth for about 15 minutes, Dad came back out, handed me the car keys, and asked me to go around the corner to where all the ambulances were parked to retrieve the cat. I walked over (and into the off-limits area) to find seven ambo crews in various stages of preparation to leave. I asked if anyone had a cat they'd picked up, and had to laugh when almost everyone present called out "THEY HAVE A CAT!" and pointed at one of the vehicles while several crew scrambled to get the carrier for me.
I took an obviously upset kitty out to the car, and was surprised to be joined by Dad after just a few minutes. He told me things were actually looking pretty good, and after we got the poor cat situated in the car we headed back inside and he snuck me past the front desk into the ER proper. I immediately felt better about the situation; as soon as I walked into the examination room, the Pipsqueak looked up and said "Hi, Biyan!" with a big smile. She did pretty well, only really crying when bothered by one of the doctors.
Lots more happened, but the bottom line is that my sister & niece are home, safe and sound, only slightly worse for the wear. All the adults are aware of how horribly worse the situation could have been; even the Pipsqueak was talking about "I upside-down" and "car broken" with wonder in her voice.
So here I am, sitting in front of the TV typing on my laptop, trying to get my own shakes muted enough to go upstairs and get some badly-needed sleep. I am infinitely grateful for the aid of caring strangers who stopped to help my sister & niece when they witnessed the accident; for the EMTs and fire company personnel who made sure they got the Pipsqueak out of her upside-down seat without falling or getting hurt; for the engineers who designed and built that seat so that a little girl would have only minor bruising from the straps after a high-speed rollover; for the people who designed, built and installed the Highlander's roll cage, safety harnesses, and suite of airbags; for the EMT on the ambulance who helped calm the Pipsqueak by showing her a silly talking cat app on his smartphone; and for the hospital nursing staff who rushed my sister & niece into the pediatric wing of the ER and found a way to do everything they needed to do in a way that allowed AJ to hold her daughter in her arms the entire time. And I am infinitely grateful for our worst concern after all this being the need to arrange for a rental car and retrieve AJ's personal property from her wrecked vehicle.
"Dear God: Thank you..."
* In the Jewish religion, the gravestone/memorial is not placed & dedicated until a year after a burial; these are usually referred to as graveside "unveiling" ceremonies.
My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅-- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!