Wake Up Call

She is okay now.  She is okay now.  She is okay now.

I have to keep reminding myself of this.  I catch myself taking a lot of deep, cleansing breaths.  My left eye has started to twitch every once in a while.  Nausea comes and goes in waves, and it feels like something is pushing on my chest, forcing all of the air out of my lungs.  My nerves are raw and exposed, but I am eerily calm.  I may or may not look it on the outside, but my head is a mess.

You see, yesterday, for almost one full hour, I believed that my oldest child was dead.

On Saturday morning, just after 3 a.m., Sheepdog and I got the phone call that no parent ever wants to get.  The voice on the other end said that Kid A had been found, unresponsive, in her dorm hallway and she had been taken by ambulance to the hospital.  She said we should get there as quickly as possible, but could offer no additional information.

We woke Kid B and asked her to sleep in our bed in case the boys got up in the middle of the night, and we assured her that we would call as soon as we had news.  We drove down silently to Grady Memorial in Atlanta.  Sheepdog and I held hands.  Phone calls to the hospital during the cold, long trip resulted in the confirmation that she was there, but they would tell us nothing else.

Nothing at all.

My imagination went to all of the very bad places.  I thought of all of the risky choices I had made in college.  All of the insane, dumb, moronic stuff I had done.  All of the times I sat around with my friends, recounting the bits and pieces from the night before, wondering how we managed to survive the night.  It was crazy.  We were so stupid.  We were so lucky.  How did we get so lucky?  How did we get out, relatively unscathed?

I felt I was getting my answer now.  In my mind I heard a nagging whisper, “Pay up.  Nobody rides for free.”  Was Kid A going to be my price?

Unresponsive.  Unresponsive.  Unresponsive.


We found the emergency department, cleared security, and went straight to the front desk.  We were quickly directed to ambulance triage.  I rounded the corner and saw Kid A sitting up on a gurney.  I went from zero to sixty, or sixty to zero (I’m not quite sure which) in an instant.  Thankfully, my worst-case-scenario had only happened in my head.


I have never hugged someone so vehemently in my life.

The doctor reassured us that she would be fine, and later she was discharged.  We drove her back to school and tucked her in with instructions to sleep and hydrate, even though my first instinct was to bring her back home with us and smother her with love and over-parenting.  But I am learning that I can not protect my kids from all of the things.  Sometimes they need to feel a pinch.

“A hard lesson to learn!  I’m sure it will be something you will work out with her and a good lesson was learned without tragic results,” said my mother-in-law.

“Is the lesson ‘Don’t Have Kids?'” I replied.  “I seem to have learned that one a little too late. They’re likely going to be the death of me.”

“Hopefully the gravity of it will scare her,” is what one sister said.  Hopefully.

And, hopefully, this experience will encourage her make better choices.  I hope that she tells her friends about it, too, and that they realize that none of them are invincible.  I realize the hypocrisy of this advice coming from me, but my job as a parent is to advise and guide my kids to be better than me.  Do better.  Behave better.  Make the world a better place.

Pretty please with sugar on top, because Sheepdog and I don’t think we can take another wake up call like that one, and we still have four more kids to go after this one.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

8 responses to “Wake Up Call

  1. Oh Stacey… my heart was in my throat. I only knew you and Kid A when our kids had a short high school romance as Freshman, but I was touched by her focus and fire. My heart goes out to you. I had a similar moment when I got the call that mine had flipped the car 1 1/2 times. He walked away and as easily could not have. I do reflect on the crazy bad decisions I made at the age and hope that they both learn a lot quicker than I did. Invincible, none of us are. Be blessed.

  2. Beth,
    I actually thought she had been in a car crash when I was hearing bits and pieces of the call through Sheepdog (“unresponsive”…”Grady”…”ambulance”…), but I can say that gave me just as much of a shake up. I am so glad that Eric was okay too. We are blessed indeed. Take care.

  3. I went rigid reading this. Thank God she is ok. I don’t know (nor do I need to) know what the bad choice involved but as a high school teacher with way too much personal experience, I’ll never understand how this generation just still doesn’t get it. They are not ignorant. They know. They’ve seen all too much of it among their peers. Thank God she is OK. I pray her lesson is a forever one and that her brothers and sisters can learn a valuable lesson from her experience. Saying prayers of thanksgiving , Stacy.

    • I don’t know, Miss Lucia. I remember being 19 and thinking that I could survive anything. I don’t think it is a matter of not getting it. I think it is a normal developmental stage that you outgrow with life experience. And I’m not convinced that telling kids will teach them anything. Sometimes, they just have to learn it firsthand.
      But I’m not going to stop telling people, just in case. Xo to you and the family.

  4. omg – the description of the ride to grady with them not giving you any details is the MOST TERRIFYING thing i can think of….i’m sure you didn’t breathe the entire way…i have three boys ( two of them teenagers) and I am right there on this terrifying ride with you….SO SO glad your girlie is OK… WHEW>>>> EXHALE!!!!

    • Thanks, Lisa. We were truly speechless the whole way. Mostly because we were both in our own, excruciatingly loud heads the whole time. I’m so glad it is over and so grateful for the outcome. Thanks for reading and remind your boys that they are not invincible either. Nobody wants that call.

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