The Night the World
Stopped Spinning

One of the most profound moments, aside from the day she was born, was the day my beautiful 16-year-old daughter was in a serious car accident.

By Vicki Raszewski

My daughter is currently 35-years-old and we’ve had an abundance of memorable moments over the past three and a half decades. I was a single mother and I managed to raise this incredible, amazing person. However, it was not easy. I can attest to the fact that single parenting is really, really hard. The hardest part is facing those scary moments of parenting all by yourself.

 

But, with perseverance, determination, and a whole lot of love, you can get through it together. One of the most profound moments, aside from the day she was born, was the day my beautiful 16-year-old daughter was in a serious car accident.

 

It was the middle of the night on Friday, August 13, 2001. I heard a loud knock at my door. The time was 12:38 am. I remember the time specifically because 12:38 am is the exact time my daughter was born. I immediately felt a lump in my throat. Who could be knocking on my door at this time of night?

 

I jolted out of bed and peeked out the upstairs window. My heart dropped when I saw the police car parked in front of the house. It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had, and I would feel it again multiple times throughout that long August night.

 

Not knowing what to expect, I opened the front door and gave the officer a tentative ‘yes’. The officer proceeded to tell me that my daughter had been in a car accident and had been taken in a medivac helicopter to the emergency room. This would be the second gut-wrenching moment that evening.

 

He told me she had been flown to the emergency room in downtown Baltimore and gave me directions on how to get there. That drive was unbelievably nerve wracking. My mind kept telling me that they don’t medivac people unless it is extremely serious. By the time I got to the emergency room, I had managed to work myself into a frantic mess.

I rushed into the emergency room and gave them my daughter’s name, all the while doing everything in my power to keep calm. After an excruciatingly long wait, they stated that no-one had been brought in that evening by medivac.

 

After the nurse did some checking they told me that a patient had been delivered via medivac to the Children’s Hospital in Washington DC. They gave me directions and I immediately took off down the BWI Parkway. Again I had more time to think of the seriousness of the accident and the length of time it was taking me to get to her. My heart was in my throat and I began to worry that I might not make it in time.

 

When I finally arrived at the Children’s Hospital in DC I was told once again that I was not at the right place. They did some checking and told me that she was taken to the Washington DC Burn Center.

 

Given more directions, I finally arrived at the same hospital as my baby girl. I’m not really sure how I was able to function at all by this point. But, I had finally made it to the right place! I knew this because at the entrance stood the same police officer that had knocked on my front door about three hours ago.

 

He apologized profusely for sending me all over the place, but apparently he had been on the same journey as me. We were both directed down some hallways and finally came to a room with the door partially opened. I took a deep breath and tried to prepare myself for what I was about to see.

When I walked into that room and saw my beautiful baby girl lying still on the hospital bed bruised and bandaged, my heart broke in two.

- Vicki Raszewski

When I walked into that room and saw my beautiful baby girl lying still on the hospital bed bruised and bandaged, my heart broke in two. With tears in my eyes and my whole body shaking I went over to the side of the bed and gently touched her on the side of the head. I told her “mommy is here” and held her hand as the tears streamed down my face. The rest of that night remains a blur to me. It involved a lot of doctors coming in and out checking her vitals and giving me sympathetic smiles.  I did not move from my post, holding my daughter’s lifeless hand and praying over her injured body for a full recovery.

 

I stayed for most of the next day making phone calls and talking with nurses and doctors about my daughter’s condition. She had to have major surgery within that week and again I was alone waiting outside the operating room with nothing but my overactive imagination to keep me company.

 

She was blessed to have a phenomenal surgery team and after multiple operations and a skin graft, she began the slow process of healing. It was a long road and involved daily dressing changes, physical therapy, and a lot of work to overcome the psychological impact of the accident. She struggled for a long time with sights and sounds that would take her back to the accident.

 

I struggled to let her out of my sight.

 

We made it through and life went on, but when I think about it I can still feel the agonizing fear and heartache of that August night.

Vicki Raszewski
Vicki Raszewski

Vicki is mom to one 35-year-old daughter.

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