When Very Bad Things Happen to Very Good People
It’s a little difficult to know how to start this story, because running over your own toddler is a simply harrowing and traumatic experience.
It’s now quite a few years ago since our planned visit to family friends for a simple BBQ in Brisbane’s Northside. We arrived on time on a beautiful Sunday morning, parked our car in the driveway and were greeted by our friend Ross and his three children. For the next five minutes or so we unloaded the car, caught up with the news and then Sonia and the children made their way into the house via the garage. Or so I thought.
I needed to move the car onto the road to make way for Ross’s wife Tracy. I put the car into reverse and slowly rolled back down the sloping driveway, looking over my shoulder as I did. A couple of metres down I felt a dull resistance under the wheel and the car wouldn’t go any further. Unbeknown to me at this stage, I had just run over my 3 ½ year old son who was pinned under the wheel of our family car.
I knew something was wrong. Very wrong. I looked to my left and right and could see that I was in the middle of the driveway. I had closed the boot only seconds before getting the car, so I was sure we had left nothing on the driveway.
At this point in time I am convinced that someone was watching us. Instead of assuming everything was fine and continuing on, I chose to drive back up the slope to see what was going on. Hastily opening the door, I looked down the drive. There was my son Billy, lying motionless on the ground, with thick, red blood flowing from his mouth. F**K, I had run over my own son.
My first and immediate reaction was that he was dead. Killed. Run over and killed by his own father. Me. Screaming, I ran to him and immediately picked him up and cradled him in my arms. In hindsight this was the wrong thing to do, but emotions overruled common sense.
When I scooped him up, he was like jelly and was silent. Dead.
He coughed up blood and let out a whimper. He’s alive.
I ran with him towards the house screaming for Sonia. Screaming, like never before.
“I’ve run over Billy. I’ve run over Billy. I am so sorry.”
I was so angry at me. Angry, like never before. How could I do this? How could I hurt was was most important in my life.
Billy spoke for the first time. “I want to go to sleep” he pleaded. Yes, he was alive, but these were not the words I wanted to hear. “I want to go to sleep’, he repeated, choking on blood. His eyes were glazed and focused on something distant. He had obvious cuts, bruises and had lost patches of skin. From first glance it appeared that I had run over his legs and torso.
“Don’t you go to sleep on me mate, stay awake”. I was absolutely convinced that if Billy lost consciousness then I would never hear his sweet voice again.
We placed him on the grass on the front yard and I rushed to ring 000, which I made Ross do. At this stage every second seemed so precious. I was still convinced that Billy was dying in front of me. As Ross got through to emergency, Billy repeated his wish “I want to go to sleep………”.
For the next few minutes we held his hand and talked to him. Waiting to hear a siren. Each second that he stayed with us gave me more hope. Finally Billy said something different.
“Mummy………….I want a hug”.
We heard a siren in the distance. My hopes increased.
15 minutes later Billy was in the emergency ward of Redcliffe Hospital. They were expecting him and immediately had various Doctors, Nurses and others checking him all over. Their immediate reaction was that his case was very serious and he would be stabilised before being sent to Royal Children’s Hospital. Please Billy be OK. I love you mate. Please be alright.
For the next four or five hours, these brilliant people put Billy through every imaginable test – cat-scans, an ultrasound, a couple of X-rays. During this time the Police also interviewed me and took my car away for investigation. Watching helplessly as Billy went through these tests was undoubtedly the most emotional experience of my life.
As we progressed through each test though, the news got better and better. No bleeding on the brain, no skull fractures, almost no internal damage and unbelievably not one broken bone. The doctors were able to confirm that he had taken the weight of the car on his body, but thankfully someone or something guided me back up that driveway and away from further injury or worse.
It broke my heart that first night in hospital watching him suffer. Catching his vomit and bile and telling him that the tube in his nose had to stay in there. Billy spent the next couple of nights under their care and returned home on Tuesday afternoon. It was another 10 days before Billy could walk but he was lucky to have no lasting injuries.
Why do I tell you this story? Most would think that the reason may be for me to tell you to be more careful when reversing cars. Yes, that is maybe one reason, but I have re-lived this moment many, many times, and think I did all the right things. Accidents do happen, and whilst I can’t change the fact that I almost killed my son, accidents also happen to good parents. I know I am a good parent.
No, the reason I tell you my story is to remind you all as parents to love every minute you have with your child. I was lucky, but not every parent is. Bad things happen to good people. Life is precious, let’s not take it for granted. Keep things in perspective. When times seem rough and when your kids are pushing you to the edge, take two steps back and realise how fortunate you really are.
So remember to give all of your kids a big hug tonight and tell them you love them.
Then do it again, but even harder!
Sorry Bill. Love you heaps.