Today we spent the day on top of Vail. Our expenses were paid as we rode down a snow covered hill on inner tubes, paid while Zoe and Kai rode mini snowmobiles and paid while we hung out at a resort roasting marshmallows. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and the opportunity to be part of a Disney photo shoot was truly an honor. We had the best time and even our baby enjoyed her time in her pack and play, enclosed in a building, free from the cold, near us. We were safe getting up there, safe while there and safe coming home. Plus, we get paid a huge chunk of money for taking part. The stress of the past week was truly worth it. Thankfully, the day was magical enough to be able to focus on (and the day was a help in) trying to keep my mind off of the tragedy we experienced on the way home tonight.

As I write this, my eyes are filling up with tears, making it difficult to see clearly. It’s taking everything in me not to lock myself in a bathroom and cry for hours. In this moment, I love my children even more. I appreciate their breath more than ever and I am extremely grateful for the privilege of being their mom.

I made a strange comment today. On the way up the mountain I was looking at the snow-capped mountains and razorbacks. They looked as if they’d collapse at any moment and I said, “I would love to see an avalanche one day, I’d also like to see a car accident but not be involved in either.” I laughed at this and went about the rest of my day, completely oblivious to the seriousness of that carefree statement. Never more do I wish to take that comment back than I do right now.

On the way home tonight I noticed brake lights about a mile or two up the highway from us. I couldn’t tell if it was due to construction or an accident but the closer we got, the more it seemed to be the latter. Knowing it was an accident, I was curious to see what happened, who was involved, figure out who was at fault and see if I recognized anyone involve. I admit, I am a rubbernecker. Although I am a careful one and I never take my eyes off of the road for too long or brake unreasonably, I am very curious to know what happens at accidents. The first “action” I noticed at the scene were several people running to the accident. Then I noticed her. A woman, crouched on the side of the road, on her knees, with her face in her hands. It shocked me. I’ve never seen emotion when passing accidents. I’ve never felt a need to look away from an accident or the people involved in an accident because they always seemed nonchalant about their unfortunate ordeal. Then I noticed him. He was standing on the driver’s side of a stopped truck, in the far right lane of the highway, and pushing a lady away from him as he angrily confronted a guy next to him. Then he went up to the driver’s door and slammed the door several times. I don’t even remember rolling down my window but before I could undo what I had just done, a wave of horrible things flooded my mind. These sounds and images are so overwhelming, I fear never being able to rid them from my memory. The truck driver’s head, hung down in grief on top of his steering wheel and half of a small car underneath the front of his pickup. The tiny car looked like a CR-X due to being so smashed under the truck but then the crouching woman screamed and my stomach churned; her words and the images have not stopped flashing in my mind since…”YOU KILLED HIS KIDS!!”

As tears roll down my face, I know that I am forever changed. Fearing the worst for my children has never seemed more real than it does right now. My children’s smiles and voices, love and joy will forever be more precious to me than any job, opportunity or cash reward and their presence and life alone will always be more important than any loneliness or stress I ever endure. The reality of what I witnessed in that accident has spun around in my head, carving paths and staking it’s claim in the reality I once knew.

I’ve been praying for that family since we all got home tonight. Praying for the children in that backseat and hoping with everything in me that they are safe. Hoping that they are alive and will rest in their parents arms soon again. Maybe I’m trying to avoid the fact of what really happened tonight, either way, my hope and prayer is to never know the pain of losing my own child. The trauma I am going through now seems too much to bear.

God, please carry those parents for as long as they feel unable to go on…