I Almost Lost My Son, but Those Few Seconds Taught Me Many Things

This morning's walk with the kids to school will linger in my mind much longer than most of the previous journeys.

Most of them sort of blend together like carrot and apple in a juice processor, and it all just feels like the usual routine done over and over like my own mini version of Groundhog Day. Most mornings consist of reassuring Danika that 'yes, this is the only cereal we have', making about five visits to Everett's room to try to get him out of bed, negotiating what should be going into the lunches, noticing my voice getting more irritated with each command about getting on coats and mitts and snowpants and such, then being told more than I ever thought I needed in regards to Pokemon or the drama of recess or the finer points of L.O.L. Dolls, and finally, putting on the kids' masks as I wish them an amazing day and letting them know that I love them.

This morning had a lot of that too. All of those things will just sink into a regular routine folder to never be thought about again. But there was something that burned into my mind this morning, and if I am going to be completely open here, I am still recovering from it.

I learned or at least, was reminded of a few things.

1. I absolutely love and treasure Everett. Yes, I love and treasure Danika an equal amount, but today, I am even more thankful that I know he is currently in class, and he will be at the school for me to pick him up this afternoon. 

2. I am very aware that an intersection near my house is incredibly dangerous, and I must always be alert there.

3. I also am reminded that we can't become so immersed in ourselves and our own needs that we forget those around us. Maybe one is running very late and is speeding to get to work on time, but that doesn't mean you forget that there are other cars on the road and there are pedestrians that need to cross those roads. Throughout the day, so many people rely on others to not be so trapped in their own concerns and needs but rather they need them to just take some time to show a small amount of care and respect for their well-being and needs.

4. I also learned to be aware that I don't know what is going on in other people's lives and what may cause them to make huge mistakes and almost do something that could accidentally but completely rock my world. But on a smaller scale, I also don't know what factors caused the neighbour to not say good morning this time or made the cashier a little slow, so I always need to bring a small pouch of empathy and compassion when I've felt wronged.

Though today, I needed a giant sack of that empathy.

Anyone who knows me a little bit or has followed this site or my podcast for any amount of time knows that my mind is constantly bouncing around, and I juggle about a thousand ideas and thoughts at once. But what got me to think of those specific things that I just presented?

Well, I was a second away from losing my son, Everett, today. To stick with the being honest theme, I am still really shaken up by it and came home a sobbing mess because that kind of reality crushes my soul and heart. Okay, okay, okay, I admit it -- this sap is crying while typing that last sentence. Being emotional can be a drag sometimes.

'But the story, Christopher! The story! You got us here, yet we don't know the story!'

Well, now I fear that I've overhyped it, but the least I can do is share it.

There are stoplights and a crosswalk near our house on a very busy road and intersection that we need to cross to get to my kids' school. It is one of and maybe even the busiest street in our city. This area is especially busy because it turns into the giant plaza that has almost everything you may need from a grocery store to a movie theatre to a bank to stores selling alcohol to restaurants to I can just keep doing this all day there is so much. It is a major go-to area for the city on what is arguably the busiest street.

This means that the intersection we cross can be dangerous. There have been people that turn onto the street and try to beat me and the kids while we cross. I have seen many people try to beat that yellow light and find themselves running a red light. It has happened too many times. I have called the city about it. My one victory is that now our walk signal starts before those turning get their green light, so there is no point trying to beat us now since we are usually almost crossed before it is their legal time to turn.

So, today we did our usual routine of going up to that intersection, and as usual, Everett hit the button to signal we wanted our walking man sign. As usual, we patiently waited. Just like every day, our walking man sign appeared. Just like every day, Everett knew that meant he could start crossing the road, and that is exactly what he started to do.

This time, a real buckaroo cowboy was blasting his giant transport truck with dreams of beating the yellow light, except those dreams had faded already, and he was now racing through a red light right toward my beloved and precious son.

I screamed Everett's name because it seemed better to scream than 'ice cream'. And then 'daddy rescue' mode kicked in and this guy who couldn't catch a baseball at the best of times had the reflexes to pull Everett back and by a second missed the truck that was desperately trying to slow down but sure was still going too fast.

The truck did finally slow down (I don't think he ever fully stopped). The driver gave me an apologetic wave and I must confess that I rewarded him with a slew of curse words that we tell our kids that they aren't allowed to say.

I was angry.

Everett and Danika aren't probably reading this.

I was fucking angry. I was shaking and filled with more emotions than I'd felt for most of my life.

I then turned to Everett and made sure he was okay. He was a little shaken and shocked. He really wasn't sure what had just happened. I hope that he doesn't realize how close he was to calling it the end. 

I know as a writer that I have a reputation for hyperbole or making a big deal out of the mundane. As we crossed the road, a lady in her car called out and said that her heart stopped and was freaked out by what she just saw. 

I was very aware that this was a near-traumatic experience. I fought tears and a meltdown the rest of the way to school. I spent time talking to them about how important it is to be kind and let those we love know it. I also said we are on this earth to spread compassion and love and kindness to others, and that is what matters in this world. We need to live a life where we think about others and try to make decisions that make the world a better place. 

I said these things because I felt like Everett was close to never being able to do any of those things again, and I wanted him to really know that they are what matters. But I also did it, because I needed to keep my thoughts in a positive place or I would have just been thinking about how much I hated the driver who almost hit and killed my son.

To continue the streak of honesty, I did hate him, even though I don't know him, except for the few seconds he has been in my entire life. They just weren't very happy seconds, but rather some of the scariest that I've ever experienced. The Exorcist was Cinderella compared to the fright that I felt this morning.

When I got home, I balled. I shook. And I texted a few people that I really love because I needed to get this moment off my chest. 

Then I got thinking. And I started to think about those things that I previously mentioned as learning.

1. We can never show too much love to someone. We take people for granted so often. Today, I was reminded how much I love both Danika and Everett. Even though she wasn't there, I was reminded how much I love my wife, Emily. I can try harder to continue to make them all feel loved. I can try harder to spread love throughout this world.

2. Things often don't change unless you take action. I've called the city and made them aware of what happened. I am not entirely sure what else can be done, but the intersection is dangerous, and I don't need anyone's child to be what motivates further change. I want it to be safer, and I know that I need to be the person that keeps my kids safe and makes a positive change in the city.

On a bigger scale, it is a reminder that we can have these dreams, or we can have these things that bother us, but we need to push and fight to make what we want a reality. We can do it with kindness and grace and humility, but we need to do it. We can't expect others to know what needs to be done. This is something I need to incorporate more than just when it comes to a dangerous intersection, because this is something I need to do much more often throughout my life, be it putting more passion into my marriage or furthering my exposure as a writer.

3. I also feel like the intersection is dangerous because some drivers are in a rush. They need to get somewhere and they need to be there ten minutes ago. I get that. But they aren't going to be any earlier if they get into a tragic and fatal car accident that may not be fatal for them but will haunt them forever. It is scary that something so horrid could happen because, for a few seconds, someone was just focused on 'beating that light.'

I am reminded how valuable it is to not worry about 'beating the light.' I need to avoid being so immersed and lost in my own needs that I forget this is a community. I absolutely must think of others. Everything I do has consequences, and so I must try to make sure they are positive as much as possible. I must make choices that help me and my family, but do it in a way that also benefits others. 

I've tried to think about the above paragraph the most today. I have discovered in the past 18-plus months that caring for others and thinking about their needs helps me make better choices and have a better perspective. I need today's scare to make me a better person rather than an angrier one.

4. This is why my last lesson was about thinking about that driver. I don't know what his morning was like. I don't know what events triggered him to the point that he not only sped to beat the yellow light but when it was clear he wouldn't make that, then he barreled through a red even though two children were crossing the road with their dad. Maybe his mind had drifted because he is going through a lot of pain and hardship right now. Maybe he needed to get somewhere on time or he would lose his job. I have no idea. But I try to think of him as a loving and caring person who made a big mistake.

Because I try to be a loving and caring person, and I make a lot of big mistakes.

Again, with honesty, I had no idea if I could have ever forgiven that man if he hit and killed my son. I almost feel that I'd have been consumed with hatred for the rest of my life. But I am blessed that I don't need to know the truth in that scenario. I just need to try to have some empathy and forgiveness in this one.

This morning was rough. Even if the actual shitty part lasted just a few seconds. I am not going to forget about it for a long time. Many hours removed, I still feel ill and my muscles are very tense, and I feel like I could cry at any moment. But I choose to turn this into a positive experience. I choose it to inspire me to be a better person and seek to be more understanding and thoughtful to others. 

I'm also now going to make sure my kids look both ways three times before crossing.


  1. Wow, Christopher. Praise GOD that you managed to pull Everett back. What a difference I second the other way would’ve made. Sheesh. Shocking to read and think about. Take care, Brother.
    Phil McGrath

    1. Thanks. It so many hours later and I am still rattled by it. I hugged my kids extra tight tonight. Thank you for the kind words.

  2. Tears in my eyes reading this Chris! So glad it turned out well and also pointed your heart in the right direction. It’s helping me tonight to try and think the same way

    —Leigh N

    1. I am so glad that what I wrote (which obviously needed this traumatic experience to inspire it) has brought value to you. It was why I dared to relive the events so quickly after they happened.


Post a Comment