The Siren Trigger

I hear sirens rush down the road this morning and I cringe. It feels as though I am at the dentist and he has touched a nerve with his drill. That’s the best way I can explain how I feel sometimes when I hear the screaming sirens of emergency vehicles. The sound touches a nerve and the zing of pain and panic goes straight through me. If my family is not close by or I don’t know where they are or if they might be in harm’s way, I feel like I curl toward the inside of me and start to pray earnestly and urgently for their safety.

Somewhere inside of me, on some level and after all these years, I am still that mother, grabbing my keys and running down the stairs to the background of screaming sirens, heading to the site of a bad car accident. I am right back in that place of panic where I am driving towards the unknown, heading directly toward the sound of those sirens, praying with all my might, “Oh, God, please NO! Please, God. NO!! I need him!!” It just couldn’t be Jason…he HAD to be all right. My family had to be safe and okay. But they weren’t. Jason wasn’t safe and and he wasn’t okay.

I no longer feel that my family and I are “protected” and that a huge tragedy such as the death of a child or close family member happens to “someone else” and not to me. I feel vulnerable. I am that mother whose precious son died in a car accident – through no fault of his own – but because of the actions of someone else. My family and I are the ones who have had to walk through a lot because of the actions of someone else. A drunk driver broadsided our son’s car at more than twice the speed limit, and Jason and Alina died instantly. Jason didn’t deserve to die. He was a good kid, making good decisions. Of all people, Jason deserved to live, to marry, to have kids, to live a long and full life. He was one of the best. When I hear them, those sirens are a trigger that reminds me that my family and I am not immune from tragedy. No one is immune. We are all vulnerable, whether we know it or not. Tragedy can – and has – touched my life. It has taken something incredibly precious from me that can’t be replaced.

The other day, as I headed home from work, the road to our house was blocked by emergency vehicles. All I could see was a little gray car (similar to Joe’s) and a young woman who looked very similar to our daughter standing next to the crumpled car. I felt myself tense up and take in a sharp breath. I reached for my phone to call Joe to make sure they were both safe at home. I had to know that they were both safe. They were safe. But I am no longer a curious onlooker to the tragedies along the roadside and to the sound of passing sirens. They have touched my life and made a deep and indelible impression, one that still zings whenever the nerve is touched by the sound of a siren.

And so I earnestly pray for the protection of my family whenever I hear sirens or see emergency vehicles. It’s not that I don’t pray for their safety at other times; I just feel an panic-y urgency to pray for the safety of my family whenever I hear those sirens go screaming by. If I know my family is safe, I pray for the people who may be impacted by what the emergency vehicles and screaming sirens represent.

Oh, God, please protect my family. I pray for your hand of protection, for your mercy, for your gracious favor and blessings to rain down on them. Be close to those whose lives may be impacted by the sound of screaming sirens from emergency vehicles. I know what those sirens can mean and how much they can impact one’s life.

© 2013 Rebecca R. Carney

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17 thoughts on “The Siren Trigger

  1. Rebecca I too will think of you when I hear sirens… I was so distressed today when I met a man who lost his twin babies in a car accident. Also, due to a drunk driver. Bless you dear friend.

  2. I can easily imagine your response to any sounds of emergency vehicles. I long ago developed the habit of praying for others when I hear or see an emergency vehicle. I always think, “someone’s day/life” just changed.” Even in small accidents, it’s trauma. And for the magnitude of what your family has experienced, the reverberations are for generations. You are very dear. oxo

  3. I too can no longer look at a vehicle crash and not feel that pain return. I have to avert my eyes when I pass, angry at the motorists in front who slow and gawk. We are changed by that single event, that loss of a child in a car crash.

    • I agree with you 100%. I couldn’t even watch car accidents in movies or on tv for a long time. It was just too hard. I remember the first car accident scene I saw on a movie after Jason died. The occupants got out of the car without a scratch and ran away. The drunk driver who hit Jason and Alina got out of the car and walked away, too. It was just too painful a reminder.

  4. Rebecca – Long before our personal tragedy, we would pray when the medivac copter flew over our house as we are in the flight course. Never did we ever imagine that someday, both of our sons would be aboard two of those choppers. Additionally, there were at least 20 units (some of which brought more than vehicle) to the bus crash where my son was killed. Between ambulances, fire truckers, trooper cars, etc, there had to have been 30+ vehicles there. I watched all the vehicles coming from the south not realizing they were going to help three of my children. Every time, I hear a siren, I pray. I remember that helplessness and my heart aches that some other family may be experiencing the same feeling. This was beautifully written, and from a mom who has walked in your shoes, I truly understand. Kandy

  5. As parents, we are not supposed to outlive our children. The grief of that loss will never end, we only learn to accept and endure – but go on until we are once again with our children.

  6. I see parents and a child with a bald head and think, ‘You poor people/you lucky people,’ in the same second – pity for them at all they’ve been through and will go through, and envy that their child is still alive.

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