I almost didn’t write this post, because it centres around something so horrendous that I never wanted to think about it again. But, you know, burying and bottling isn’t brain friendly, so here we are.
This isn’t one of those “I’m a bad mum because I accidentally gave my child mouldy bread for lunch”, or “I shouted just a bit too loudly at them today”. No, I’m a bad mum because I misjudged a set of traffic lights changing and I got hit by a car, while pushing my pram. My pram that had Moo strapped into it, and Mouse riding on the buggy board at the back.
You see, the weather was awful on this day. It had been raining fat, heavy drops all morning, but we’d needed to go out as I had a routine check-up with my GP. I’d enshrouded Moo’s pram with the rain cover, and thrown every piece of wet weather apparel onto Mouse that I could find. She’d clutched onto her umbrella the entire time we were outside, so it was actually only me that was sodden and chilled to the bone.
We walked to the Doctor’s surgery, and Moo nodded off. She remained asleep until I was having my blood pressure taken, at which point she woke up with a start and screamed her head off. My blood pressure instantly shot up, and the whole head off screaming thing continued for approximately half an hour solid. I put in my prescription, repeatedly breathed “it’s okay, my baby boo…it’s okay, my silly Moo” and started the trudge home. Fairly near to my house is a gargantuan set of crossroads, involving nine lanes of traffic and three separate traffic lights. I needed to cross seven to get home, but I cross them daily.
I know these lanes. I know these lights. I know the signal priorities, and I know how long it takes me to jet across.
Crying, crying, crying from Moo.
Whinging, whinging, whinging from Mouse. It’s gone 1pm now, and both children are probably ravenous.
Raining, raining, raining.
I get to the first two lanes of traffic, the lights are red. Over I whoosh, thinking about my blood pressure. Thinking about what I’ll make the girls for lunch. Thinking that I really hope this rain stops this afternoon so that I can take Mouse for a sloshy muddle puddle hunt.
I stand on the island between the lanes, with the traffic lights still on red. There’s a car in the first lane, to my right, sat waiting for their change. I make a dash for it, as they flick from red to amber. Ooops, shit! I think. I raise a cursory soggy hand to say thank you to the car for waiting, and I pick up speed to cross the second lane.
I see it, before it takes place. I suddenly know exactly what’s about to happen. A flash of white, to my right. My handbag, upended into the road. Screams, from me. The pram – oh my god the pram – upside down in the road, less than a meter from the oncoming traffic in the opposite lanes. The squeal of brakes and the honks of horns and the “OHMYGODOHMYGOD” from somewhere behind me. Mouse, shrieking, pinned under the buggy board, under the pram.
The hand on my arm. The “I didn’t see her I didn’t see her I swear I didn’t see her.” The “What the hell were you doing, you were going too fast.” The “Mate, you could have fucking killed her”. The “Check the kiddies, we need to check the kiddies”.
The blood on my foot as I tripped on my stupid, stupid scarf while trying to stand up.
The screaming, from me, as I yanked the pram handle up to see Moo, thrashing around in her straps, elevated inches from the floor.
In the same way that I knew what was going to happen when the car hit me, I knew that my girls were okay. Miraculously, okay.
A wonderful, kind lady called Sue strongarmed me and the children over to the next island. The driver of the white car stood with his head in his hands, saying sorry over and over again. Sue phoned the police, who also triggered calls to the paramedic and later, an ambulance. I hopped from foot to foot, wailing and not knowing what to do. Moo continued to scream from inside the pram, but the rain was so torrential that if I’d have lifted the raincover off and cuddled her, she’d have been soaked. I had to let her cry, while poking my hand underneath the cover and uselessly patting her arm.
I gazed around me to see stationary cars everywhere. Nothing was moving, across this busy intersection, because of me. From one of the cars emerged another kind lady, who knelt and talked to Mouse while I phoned my husband. Her teeth were chattering and she had snot everywhere, her hands were flushed red with stinging cold. The lady asked if she could take her, to sit in her car while we waited for the paramedic. Mouse later told me that she’d offered her a drink and given her a blanket to sit on.
The kindness of strangers.
The stupidity of ignorance.
The hair’s breadth that our road network hinges on.
The assumption that the pedestrian won’t be daring enough to cross. That the cyclist won’t cut lanes. That the motorbike won’t undertake. That the other car will wait.
The total, absolute, overwhelming good fortune that nobody was hurt. The worst physical injury was a kaleidoscope of bruising that appeared across my knees over the next few days.
The utterly bizarre sight of my husband, who’d come to the scene to take us home, shaking hands with the driver of the white car, who was almost in tears with the gravity of what might have happened.
The words of the policeman to me: “Someone’s looking down on you, Mrs Wills. You were very nearly wiped out.”
The rain, which continued all afternoon and all evening.
The risk, the rush, the blasé.
The lesson truly learned.
-SJW January 2017