When my phone rang at two in the morning, my heart nearly stopped. I’d never woken up so fast in all my life. No good phone calls come in at two a.m. Nothing good ever comes from them.
"May I speak with Mimi Carson.”
"This is her,” I said, sitting up in bed, my hands shaking. I prepared for the worst.
"This is Officer Jack Hudson with the St. Louis Police Department. M’am, we’re calling about your grandson, Nick. There’s been an accident and—”
At first, I didn’t hear the rest of what the officer was saying. I closed my eyes and silently prayed - please let Nick be alright. Please, God. He was my entire world. My everything. I’d raised him since he was three years old, all on my own.
There’s been an accident.
"MaMaw, I hit your table with my car!”
"Oh no! I guess I better get my police hat out and ticket you.”
The little boy laughed, showing off his almost toothless grin. His little Hot Wheels car ramming into the leg of my dining room table.
"Please just tell me he’s alright,” I whispered the words into the phone.
"M’am, your grandson is just fine, but the people he hit with his car are currently in critical condition.”
My eyes popped open. Relief had temporarily washed over me, but then the second half of his sentence hit me hard.
"The people he hit?”
"Yes. m’am. Your grandson was drinking and driving and hit a family out trick or treating. Both parents and a two-year-old.”
"My Nick? He did this?” My sweet boy, the one who always checked on before he went anywhere. He was nineteen years old now, almost all grown up, but still very much a child. "He was drinking?”
I thought back to before he left me that evening. He’d mentioned a Halloween party. Call me naive, but I didn’t realize there’d be alcohol. His friends always seemed like good, responsible kids. I asked if a parent would be there, and he said yes. I trusted him.
I also always told him to call me if he ever needed a ride, for any reason. No questions asked.
Why didn’t he call me?
Carla and Ricardo Perez. Their daughter, Isabel, was two years old. It was her first Halloween.
It was also her last.
All three perished in the hospital in the following days. The news had their faces plastered everywhere, and I saw them even in my nightmares. Their precious daughter, so full of life in her Halloween costume.
Isabel had been a bumblebee.
On his first Halloween, Nick had been a Power Ranger, the red one. The best one according to him.
"I'm going to save the world!" he'd told me.
And I believed him.
I thought my young grandson would change the world one day.
But not like this. Oh no, not like this.
How did it come to this?
Reporters stopped me, asking me about my grandson. Was he a bad kid, they asked me.
No, never. He was always a good boy. He made mistakes, as did everyone. But he was a good kid growing up. He'd been a good kid until the moment he got behind the wheel, while under the influence.
Even that very morning, he was a good kid. He’d went to the store for me, picked up everything I needed before he went out that evening. Made sure I had food, that I was taken care of.
Then he went out and killed a family that same evening.
How do I reconcile this in my mind? I can’t.
And yet, that’s not what the media wants to hear. The media wants me to tell them that my grandson was a horrible person, a monster. Because only a monster would get behind the wheel while drinking. Only a monster could take the lives of such a beautiful family.
Except… so many do, including the folks demonizing him. They never killed anyone. They got lucky that a few drinks and a stupid decision didn’t hurt anyone else. Drunk driving is one of the most selfish things a person can do, don’t get me wrong. It disgusts me.
But he’s still my grandson.
He’s still my Nicky.
It’s now Sunday, and I’m usually in church. But not this week. And probably not next week either. The last time I went, my friends and fellow parishioners stared at me with an evil eye. A disdain for me, as if I was the one who imbibed and sat behind that wheel. As if I made the decision to drive that night.
Because in their minds, it is my fault.
I raised him. I’m the reason he turned out like this. It’s all my fault.
And the biggest sin of them all, according to them?
I still love him.
(This entry is fictionalized, but it was inspired by a real accident here in my city. Names, personal details and location have been changed out of respect for everyone involved. I read an article where the grandmother of the young man said that her grandson had always been a good kid, and made the mistake of reading the comments - the poor woman was demonized, even though she had done nothing wrong. She was being judged harshly, but let’s face it - we can’t always be responsible for what our children do, and anyone of those people judging this woman could have a child or grandchild that might also drink and drive one day. The holier-than-thou mentality, the “it could never happen to me” thoughts annoyed the piss out of me, thus inspiring an entry looking into what it must be like for the grandmother after the entire community turned on her for the sin of loving her grandson unconditionally).