A Halloween Near-Miss Torments Me

Before the drenching (and don't ask me about the green bow-- I have no idea why it's there)

Before the drenching (and don’t ask me about the green bow– I have no idea why it’s there)

Nothing bad happened.

There was no accident; no one was hurt; there was no blood, crying, or boo boos.

But deep in my nervous system I’ve got cells that beg to differ.  They are crying in agony, nipping at my serenity, echoing a constant refrain.  What if. Almost.

On Halloween evening, I was eight days into a nasty cold so I was grumpy and my head was pounding like the rain drumming down on all of us.  The kids were drenched within minutes.  Simon almost slipped through my arms because his Spiderman costume was so slick from the rain.  The blue ribbons in Sadie’s pigtails were untied and drooping like wilted flowers.

The rain wasn’t bothering the kids; the swarm of them huddled up and ran from house to house, like a giant Disney-themed amoeba.  I was holding an enormous umbrella that, when unfolded, resembled a circus tent.  I was aware of the occasional car driving past us, and each time one passed, it set my  nerves on edge.   I was scared something would happen to one of our little trick-or-treaters who were too busy procuring candy to use their “listening ears” or pay attention to traffic.  I said a selfish prayer: Please don’t let something happen to one of mine.

Then there was a black car coming on my left and the kids were emerging quicker than I expected from a house where no one answered the doorbell.  I was yelling all of them to stay put when one of them darted out right in front of the car.  I saw the blue and white checkered dress and all of my internal organs froze solid.  SADIE! STOP!  The tip of my umbrella grazed the car, trying to stop it.  Jeff appeared from somewhere behind me and grabbed Sadie who had run straight out in front of the car.  It missed her by two yards? Two feet? Two inches? Two heartbeats?

Ten seconds and the whole thing was over.  Jeff ushered Sadie back to the sidewalk, and the rain started to pound us even harder.  I insisted on becoming part of the children’s horde.  My heart refused a regular beat.

She ran out in front of a moving car. Ohmygodsheranoutinfrontofamovingcar.

I begged Jeff with my eyes to cut it all short so we could retreat with the kids into the safety of the house.  After cursing the incessant rain all day, I felt a flood of gratitude when it forced us in early.

That night, I put a sugared-up Sadie to bed.  Out of the corner of my eye I could see her Dorothy dress hanging on the hook.  The sight of it turned my stomach.

“What was your favorite part, Mama?” She asked, unaware that while she counted her candy and conned Simon into giving up half his loot, I was replaying those seconds on the sidewalk.

“I liked it when we were inside counting the candy,” I offered.  An honest answer.

We worked our way through our nighttime routine– story, gratitude list, prayers, song– and I kept getting drawn back to that awful what if moment even though my perfectly alive daughter was inches from my face asking me if we could pray for her lollipops.

I’d die if anything happened and I missed all of this I think as she moves in for her final snuggle before drifting off.  I know that replaying the near-miss over and over is another way to miss her, to sap the quiet perfection of the moment away to wallow in morbid reflection over something that didn’t happen.

But I couldn’t stop.

Her eyes did their final flutter, and I extricated myself from her embrace and kissed her again before leaving.  Before I shut the door, I grabbed the costume and put it in her closet underneath the stack of baby blankets and princess dresses.

I don’t want to see it again, even though nothing bad happened.

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67 thoughts on “A Halloween Near-Miss Torments Me

  1. whew! Im still breathing heavy. My favorite part would be when you didn’t get killed sweetie! Holy cow! I knew I disliked the Wizard of Oz for some reason.

    • All night long I wanted to bring it up as a “teachable moment.” Yes, I love M&Ms and also I love it when you do NOT run into traffic and almost get killed. On and on. I’m guessing that’s not fair to her to obsess and refuse to let it go, but girl, I so wanted to.

  2. As a police officer, I often find myself after an incident wondering why some people get lucky and others do not. If you think about it, it only takes a couple of seconds for life to change drastically. I’m so glad your little cutie is ok and oblivious to the fact that she was almost hurt.

    • Same here. I can only imagine what you’ve seen in your work that proves that “it only takes a second” theory. God, I hate how fragile life is. Keeps me up at night.

  3. Wow, I would have been terrified. We went trick-or-treating in the rain also, and man, it was DARK. I’m so glad nothing bad happened. Thank goodness for Jeff’s quick reflexes.

  4. So glad to hear she’s okay. Those moments just remind us how truly fragile life is…able to change in a single instant. It is moments like these that keep us, parents, unable to relax and let them go. Thank you for the reminder. Hugs!

  5. Scary scary stuff. And just this morning I watched my two kids (who are plenty knowledgeable about crossing the street) cross with heads down not paying any attention to the oncoming car that is supposed to stop for the crosswalk. I remind them day after day…you can’t just look once. It’s not enough for you to see the car. the driver needs to see you.

  6. You are crushing it with these Yeah Write stories my friend! I could picture every little detail which you so eloquently laid out. I can’t even THINK about the actual act, I want to hurl. But the way you recount it is nothing short of perfection.

  7. i was cranky halloween too and the cars flying by down small streets where dozens of kids darting in and out and across streets was giving me constant anxiety. so true.. just one moment changes everything.

  8. Terrifying!! I just cannot understand cars that drive around neighborhoods like that on Halloween night. You KNOW some sugared up kid full of excitement and carelessness is going to dart out in the road. It is a certainty. But I am so glad your precious little Dorothy was safe. Someone was looking out for her. Thankfully! Phew.

  9. Oh my gosh, this was absolutely sickening. I’m so sorry that nearly happened and that you had to have that moment of terror… A dog I was taking care of was hit by a car once (totally survived, that thing was a ninja) but I screamed and ran half naked down the street in the middle of winter, convinced it was all over. I can’t imagine that feeling amplified to the degree of it having been my child…. *shudders* So sorry you went through that.

  10. So scary and so glad she is OK! I used to love Halloween, and now hate it for these very reasons. This year, my 3rd grader went trick or treating with the older girls across the street (5th & 7th grade), and I was a nervous wreck the whole time! Our neighborhood is very safe, police out everywhere, but still! This holiday is not kind to mothers…

  11. OH my, this is chilling. Great writing though. I’m so sorry you are reliving that terrifying moment. I’m hoping time erases it slightly at some point! And yea, she better pick a different costume next year, no repeat for this Halloween!

  12. So scary! I definitely have done my share of yelling at kids to pay attention to the cars. I think they should block off the streets on Halloween. If you can’t walk, don’t leave your house.

  13. I had an incident like this recently and it scared the living piss out of me. And I spent quite some time afterward pondering all of the what-ifs? I’m glad you’re precious baby is okay and unharmed.

  14. I’m glad you told us at the start nothing bad actually happened but I was still on the edge of my seat. Simon’s face is a riot in the picture and I’m so happy that you got to the counting candy (best) part with Sadie. Raising kids is frightening for us parents. So many ways everything can go. I’m with Carin about that nailing business!

  15. Wow, Christie…. I can only imagine such a horrifying experience! I , like you, would be prone to relive it over and over again, imagining the other possible ends to such a scenario. I guess I’d need to force myself to take solace ink the fact that she remained safe and that nothing bad happened. I’d be thankful that my child’s Guardian angel was so obviously with her that night, and appreciative to God that the gift if my child who he so generously provided to me continues to be with me each and every day. So sorry for your experience!

  16. Those what if moments are so hard. After a bad car accident in 2008, I didn’t sleep for days thinking how much worse it could have been. Not how lucky we were, but how much worse. Even now, 5 years later, I still get sick thinking about it. Hugs mama, and thank goodness she was OK.

  17. Must be something in our neuroses. I’m always going to worst case scenarios too — so damn scared to lose these precious children. I’m so glad it was a miss and your sweet babies are safe with you. This momma gets it, so hugs to you.

  18. The same thing happened to me with my 3-yr-old a few weeks ago. Pulled away from me and ran into the street. The car stopped and so did my heart. Still makes me nauseous when I think about it. Though I was distracted at the time by a woman who ran over to me, equally frightened, but then asked me if those gray hairs I had were ones I got just then. Um, okay, thanks. So I’m not just a bad mom I’m old!

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