Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Dec. 12, 2002

Mariya had an accident

"Mariya had an accident. I'm going there. I have the cell."

Those were the only words on the note Art had taped to the door at his work. My heart jumped to my throat. I unlocked the door, hoping to find a clue as to where the accident happened and where Art had gone. I was so rattled I really didn't know what to do.

"This can't be happening," Mom said, echoing my thoughts.

She, my sister Gaila, daughter Katie and "adopted daughter" Cecilia gathered around me, their eyes questioning. They fell silent, probably imagining thoughts they didn't want to imagine. The looks on their faces mirrored the fear in my heart.

"Why didn't he say how she was?" I asked myself. I wondered if it was just an oversight or if he didn't know, or if he did know, but didn't want to say.

When my call to Art went through, I got his voice mail. I said something, but I'm not even sure what. Art told me later I yelled into the phone. I hung up and Katie burst into tears, worried about her big sister.

I called the high school, hoping someone would answer. No one was there. It was after 6 p.m.

"OK," I told myself. "Call again and if Art doesn't answer, call the hospital."

I called again. This time Art answered. The first time I had called, the cell phone just happened to be in a no-signal location.

Again I said something, but I cannot recall what. Whatever it was, I must have repeated it.

"As I said before, she's sitting here beside me and we are our way home right now," Art said in a calm voice.

I guess that wasn't enough to allay my fears because I blurted out, "Is she OK?"

"She's fine, although a little sore where the seatbelt restrained her. And quit yelling," he said.

He explained how after Mariya had left school, she had inadvertently dropped the passenger side wheels onto the road's shoulder. She turned the wheel to return them to the roadway and overcorrected, sending the car across the road and into the other ditch.

He said how nice everyone had been, including the concerned fellow who lived nearby and had called the police and let Mariya use his cell phone to call, the paramedics who checked her out and let her stay in the warm ambulance until Art arrived, and the policeman, who was less formal than police officers sometimes are.

"Why didn't you say on your note she was OK?" I asked with a touch of anger in my voice - anger that was really a reaction to the emotions that had been stirred up in me.

He explained that I had told him we'd be be in Manhattan at 4:50 to see the Christmas parade and he had received a call from Mariya just five minutes earlier. He figured I'd see the note and call immediately.

He had been under the impression we'd stop by his work before the parade, but we hadn't, assuming he and Mariya would join us. All during the parade, I had an uneasy feeling, wondering why he wasn't there and why Mariya hadn't arrived either.

When Art finished explaining, I asked again how Mariya was.

"She says she'd like you to bring home a Big Mac, fries and a Coke," he said.

That was when I really knew she was OK.

I hung up, explained to the others what had happened and then added vehemently that I wasn't going to let Mariya drive any more.

"Oh, Mom, don't be silly," Katie said. "Of course you will. She has to get back to driving so she isn't scared of it."

She was right, but at that moment I didn't want to think about Mariya back on the road.

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