The Call Every Parent Dreads: We Almost Lost Our Son

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A month ago, my son was involved in a horrific automobile accident. I won’t go into many of the details of how it happened, I’ll just say that it was the time I almost lost my son.

We got the call from the hospital at approximately 9:30 on a Saturday morning. It was the call that every parent dreads receiving. The person at the other end of the line was from the hospital and wanted to verify our insurance information. That’s how we learned he was there. What? What happened to our son? Because of the HIPPA Laws (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), they couldn’t give us any information. They could only strongly suggest we come down to the hospital as soon as we could.

Wow! What a way to start the weekend! My husband and I quickly got dressed, moving quickly but in slow-motion at the same time. We were in a state of shock, we knew he was alive but in what condition would we find him in? In our minds, we tried to sort out and figure out what happened. Since the hospital called, at least he was alive. Right? We made our way to the hospital downtown. We have a very good hospital in our area, but we were told later on that the paramedics felt his injuries were so severe, they didn’t think he would make it. They took him to the hospital in downtown Houston, where they were better equipped to handle trauma and life-threatening injuries.

We walked into the emergency room, asked for our son and were led down the long hall and through several sets of double doors. I didn’t recognize him laying in the bed unconscious. I asked the nurse again if this was my son. I really couldn’t tell. She looked at me strangely and said, “Yes,” but I just didn’t recognize him. Blood covered his face. For a moment, I was reminded of that tiny little boy I held in my arms only a few years earlier. I was afraid I would hurt him if I touched him. He looked so fragile.

We waited for him to wake up and when he finally did, he had no recollection of the accident itself. He remembered it had been raining and he hit a curb and swerved right. He remembered hitting his head on the driver’s side window. The police report showed he flipped multiple times and hit a light pole. The paramedics had to “cut” him out of the car.


The Call Every Parent Dreads: We Almost Lost Our Son


Miraculously, he was able to walk out of the hospital later on that day. An MRI and CAT scan revealed no damage to any internal organs or to his head -- which leaves me still amazed. Externally, he’s very roughed up. He has quite a few external injuries that will heal in time. He still can’t feel his finger when touched and has trouble bending it. His fingernail will eventually fall off, not to mention all the scrapes, scratches, bruises, and memories.

When we brought him home later that day and put him into bed, I knew I just had to see the car. I was still in a state of shock. I couldn’t wrap my head around what just happened. We didn’t have a whole lot of information from the hospital and the police report simply cited him for failure to maintain control. There were too many pieces of the puzzle that just wouldn’t fit together. I needed to see the car.

My husband and I drove to the lot where it had been towed. We finally found his car and then the reality really began to sink in. I just couldn’t believe he survived this accident. God must have something so very important for him to do, because people just don’t walk away from accidents like this one. The car was definitely a total loss. It was shocking. I broke down.


The Call Every Parent Dreads: We Almost Lost Our Son


It’s been a month since the accident and I can’t seem to get past it. My precious “little” boy who’s almost 21 will be going back to college. I just want to protect him. I don’t want to let him go. What if something happens and I’m not there? How will I feel when I call him and he doesn’t pick up, did something happen? Will I worry every night of my life? I just don’t know how to get through this. Is this really just a part of being a parent. How will I move on?

This particular son has put my husband and I through several scares in the past. As a child, he was always a daredevil and fearless. Full of excess energy. Even now, he’s still fearless or maybe he simply doesn’t have the best judgment. Recently, he was kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico and a storm came up. He flipped over in the kayak and floated for nine hours before he was rescued. The Coast Guard was called but had to call off the search because of the weather. Only this child can go through events such as these and come through, it seems…

I suppose life deals all of us certain cards. We either resist the new reality or we choose to go with it. We have to go along with it. I know we can’t keep our children with us forever. Life gives them lessons they need to learn.

My lesson from this is that life can be lost in an instant. When your children push you away because you still get all mushy and it embarrasses them, too bad! Do it anyway. They’re never too big or too old for hugs. Just love and cherish each each other and every day you have together. Tell each other that you love them. Don’t be afraid to let those around you know you care. We’ve gotten a second chance, many people aren’t as lucky.


Joanie Zisk writes about food, wine and parenting at

Joanie Zisk


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