Into the Ambulance

Today I dug into my shoe basket and pulled out a forgotten pair of flats. Heels just sounded way too risky.

When they piled the kids and I into the ambulance after the crash last night (30-45 minutes later? An hour?) my oldest three sat huddled in a group, clinging and crying and all wanting to sit on my lap/shoulders/head, anything to feel better (Gigi was fine as long as she could sit in her stroller). The neighbor kid got a little white so they took him to one of the waiting ambulances.

Finally the German doc leaned in and anxiously told me that we would have to split all the children up, there was no way we could move out in that condition. They did quick evaluations starting with June. It will come as no surprise that my little spit fire was the first calm one of the bunch.

“June,” I said as the doctor finished checking her, “do you think you can go with that nice German man right there and ride in another ambulance? Are you brave?” She smiled at me, gave me a big hug and kiss and hopped into his arms with a little happy wave goodbye.

It about killed me. Not that I didn’t have enough to worry about with the boys, they were sobbing next to me on the bed like a couple of girl scouts. I sat between them trying to think of how I could convince Harrison to leave my side.

With Jason gone my kids and I have implemented the Team Valentine (we use my real last name but I try to avoid using it publicly as much as possible–it’s about the only thing I keep private) to help us when Daddy’s away. It means that we all pitch in to pick up the slack; that could be a hug, or helping Mom with chores, or reading a book to someone. We have a jar that we’re filling with fuzzy balls in order to earn a totally awesome Saturday out with Mommy next week.

I looked at my beautiful terrified eight-year-old crying his heart out next to me. “Harrison,” I said, “Can you look at me?” He turned his big green eyes up at my face and I smiled. “Buddy, I need your help. We can’t leave until we’re all in different ambulances,” I said as he started to cry harder and burried his sweet face in my chest. “Harry, I need you to do something for me: Dad isn’t here to help, but do you think you can be brave and ride alone so Rex can stay with me? Team Valentine, Buddy, can you do it?”

I wish I could describe watching him take that last big sniff, blow it out and wipe his eyes. He looked up at me, pressed his lips together and gave a solid nod of the head. Then he hugged me and jumped off the gurney to go with the strange Germans waiting to take him away. My little boy, such a wonderful man in the making. He didn’t shed another tear the rest of the night, and in fact was totally into the neck brace and gurney scene by the time we pulled up to the ER.

But oh, my little Rexy. Sobbing, certain that we were all going to die and just waiting for the last big bang. The doctor did a quick physical check and found that Rex had hit his head on the side of the car, a nice bump was already blooming. Side bumps are something to watch, so it won’t come as a shock that when Rex started to pass out in his seat I about peed my pants.

Of all my kids, the only one I’m afraid is too good for this Earth is Rex. June? She’ll live forever, but Rex I routinely worry is too guileless and kind for his own good.

“Hey!” I said to the doctor (they had two full-on physicians there) “Is he okay? He’s passing out!” They rushed to him and checked his vitals, laying him on the bed like a little limp rag doll. Within a few minutes they stood back and looked at me.

“Um,” said the doctor, “We think he’s asleep. Does he do this when he’s frightened?”

Then I remembered, it’s exactly what he does when he gets sick, goes to bed and sleeps until he’s well. Still, I felt slightly anxious that there could be more to it. I glanced out of the ambulance and saw Brother Ford standing there, waiting through the entire ordeal and making rounds on the other kids. I motioned him in and asked if he would give my Rex a blessing.

Let me tell you right now, having him stand next to me and lay his hands on Rex’s head was the most powerful, comforting experience I had had. My husband might be on the other side of the world, but Heavenly Father surrounded us that night with worthy, priesthood holding men, ready to step in and bless my children at a moment’s notice.

After the blessing and a little more reassurance from the medics that Rex was perfectly fine, I couldn’t help admiring the kid. When the docs would periodically pry his little eye lids open to check his pupils they’d snap shut again like taught little rubber bands. He slept through the next four hours of procedures, including a CAT scan. In fact, the tech was all prepped to put him under until they realized he was self-medicating. They said Rex was an absolute dream to work with.

I have more to say, but again I am emotionally spent. I can’t sleep and I’m totally exhausted. Regurgitating my experience in print seems to be the most effective method I’ve found of moving through the whole thing. More later, forgive me for spilling it out so coarsely.



  1. Annie I’m so glad you are all ok. That is such a scary experience. What a blessing to have such wonderful people around when your husband can’t be there!
    Oh, and just for the record, I don’t mind bible thumping. 🙂

  2. Oh my. What a brave bunch of kids you have there. And how wonderful that the priesthood was there to surround you and give you the comfort that you needed.

  3. I just want to bake you guys cookies and help you sit and hold your little ones!
    (and I am surprised to learn that you even own a pair of flats…)

  4. Okay, I was fine with yesterday’s report: I skipped to the end to be sure everyone was all right, then I went back and read the details. But today I’m bawling like those girl scouts. Annie, we could have lost you. Lost you all! And little Harrison? My David would have done the same thing. Doesn’t it break your heart that you have to teach them to do hard things by making them do hard things? Love you, my friend. No more scares. Ever.

  5. You and your kids are all so very brave! So glad you are all right. I am glad you have had good people surrounding you at your time of need. You are such an amazing woman and mother! Hang in there!

  6. After reading about the bump to his head, I was relieved to read that your Rex got a CAT scan. From the experience of a once-young sibling I learned that even slight head bumps in children can result in great trauma — and a bump during a car accident is going to be more than slight!

    I hope your future posts will reveal that all is well with you and your little ones.

  7. girlsmama says:

    I’m so glad that you were able to have a blessing. That will always bring peace. I hope that you are finding peace now! Sometimes it’s even scarier and more emotional when we go back and think about just how bad it could have been… Prayers.

  8. Oh goodness, I’m a sobbing mess. I’m so sorry for the scare, so inspired by the strength of both your boys. I’m so glad you all are safe and for all the angels that were there for you. And thank you for writing it out so beautifully – I really needed this perspective. Go Team Valentine!

  9. Annie. My word. I’m so grateful that you are all okay. What a miracle! What a horribly terrifying experience. Please all rest and recover well. You are amazing Annie.

  10. Oh Annie. Bless your heart! I am emotional and sobbing for you and your sweet kids. You were truly blessed in so many ways. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Lindsey says:

    So glad you are all safe and sound!!! And so glad you had guardian angels watching over you all as well!

  12. I’m so glad that you and all your children are safe! I’m sorry you had such a scary experience. I’m making you a virtual platter of better than…anything brownies. You turned me into a teary eyed emotional mess, so if sharing the tears is therapeutic, you should be just about there.

  13. It is good to write it out. Put words, thoughts behind all these feelings you are having. It is a volcanoe of emotions, errupting
    looking for an outlet of some kind
    share it with us, cause we are all hear for you.
    Ready to listen, ready to love, …always caring.
    Amazing how the LORD helps each of us right to each of your children with the strengths and attributes they need to carry one through a crisis.

  14. Very few posts make me tear up but this one did it. Thanks for the sore throat (caused by holding back the tears). Gotta love the priesthood. It totally rocks. And your kids? Awesome. Totally awesome.

  15. Oh wow. you had a bad bad day! I had a bad day involving cars and x-rays for kids, but it wasn’t like this. I’d be happy to send you some dumptruck KitKat’s if it helps!

  16. Oh, Annie! I’m so glad everyone is safe. I have been through two traumatic car accidents as well so I know just how you’re feeling right now. You and your family are in my prayers.

  17. Annie, you rock. You really do.

  18. yvonne stewart says:

    Life changing. Trauma, blessings, and never quite the same. So very glad and happy to hear everyone is alright. God has really blessed you.

  19. sues2u2 says:

    My heart was swelling w/ pride reading about how June & Harrison were able to go off on their own & yet breaking for you because as a mom you really want to be there w/ your kids. Period. But Rex? What a kid! It’s terrifying to watch your kid loose consciousness but to find out he’s only asleep? That totally rocks! (I fall asleep after great trauma whether physical or mental too but I think it’s mostly because I can’t do most pain meds) I know how terribly difficult this must be for you. If it helps, my mom threatened to wall me into a padded cell once after 3 yrs worth of injuries culminating in 2 fractured vertebrae that nearly paralyzed me. And really, thank heavens you guys were prepared to deal w/ just about anything. And again, thank heavens for the priesthood. Gotta go find tissues before I read the last post you made. And a dt coke. I think I need that caffeine!