Dear driver of the tan minivan with license plate BTSN 279 who was turning right on a red light from Spadina Rd onto Highland Rd in Kitchener this afternoon:
You almost made my worst fear come true today: losing my miracle child.
You were not looking in front of you as you swerved around a stopped vehicle to make your turn. You had your neck craned to the left so that you could see if any cars were coming. You didn’t see the large stroller in the intersection and the woman in the bright white shirt pushing a small child in that stroller. You didn’t see her look of panic as she ran to push that stroller out of the crosswalk that you had entered. You didn’t realize when you had bumped her wrist and the handle of the stroller with your vehicle. You finally stopped your vehicle when you heard a disheveled drunk man on a bicycle screaming obscenities at you and threatening to smash your windshield. You may have heard that woman tell the drunk man that there was no need for swearing, and tell you that you were lucky that the stroller was pushed out of the way in time and that you needed to pay attention at crosswalks. You may have also seen the woman pull her metal water bottle away from the drunk man when he reached over to throw it at your windshield, and quickly leave the scene so that he would deescalate. You may have heard him start cursing after her for protecting you from his wrath.
You didn’t see the woman shaking, gasping for breath, and trying hard not to cry, so as not to upset her little peanut any further. You did not see the strength it took to not give into the fear and rage and desire to hurt you that the drunk man was inviting. You did not see how many unkind words were waiting to be spoken but were swallowed so that the child could witness a relatively peaceful scene instead of one filled with even more profanity and threats of violence.
You didn’t see the little girl pee her pants. You didn’t see the woman’s fear and distrust of vehicles and crosswalks for the rest of the walk.
You didn’t see the anxiety attack the woman had afterward that made her huddle over the toilet in the bathroom, willing herself to throw up so that the overwhelming feelings would leave her stomach.
You didn’t see the construction worker with the gentle eyes who approached the woman after you drove off, asking if she was okay. You didn’t see the teenager from the bus stop come over to check that nobody was hurt. You didn’t see the kindness of strangers who never would have connected had it not been for your mistake.
You didn’t get to see the woman explain to the child that even grown-ups make mistakes and deserve to learn from them and move on, unharmed and forgiven. You didn’t get a chance to be part of the long, loving snuggle that mother and child shared once they both felt safe again. You weren’t there for the extreme wash of relief and peace that finally overtook the woman as she decided to forgive you and settled back into her routines at home, choosing to move on with her life, with her head held high, and with gratitude for her living, breathing child.