We can replace cars – we can’t replace lives

It’s a Sunday evening. You’re relaxing as you always do on a Sunday, looking for ways to postpone the inevitable Monday mania. You are surrounded by the people who matter most in your life – your spouse (significant other) and your children. Your world seems ideal at that very moment. Everything seems peaceful. Everything is in order. Life is beautiful.

Then your phone rings and you grudgingly grab it, wondering who would call you on a Sunday evening. It’s atypical of you to answer phone calls on a Sunday evening, especially if you don’t recognize the number but something tells you that this is a phone call that needs to be answered.

Your voice is chipper when you say, ‘Hello’ because after all, your life is perfect. Someone on the other line is saying, ‘Your son has been in a car accident…’ and is giving you whatever information they’ve received but suddenly it feels like you are inside a box and everything is muffled. The world is moving at a snail’s pace but your mind is working in overdrive.

You can’t seem to catch your breath as you hang up, jump up and the last thing you want to do right then is utter the same words that you just heard because if you do than it will make it real but you don’t want it to be. But you know that you have to include your spouse in the conversation because it’s her child too even though you don’t want her to feel the rush of anxiety you’re feeling right now too. As you relay the information in a fog and chaos erupts around you there are a million and one things going through your head because you only have one sentence in what is sure to become a big story.

What happened? Were there other people involved? Where is he? Is everyone okay? Why is this happening?

You jump in the family car, your wife in tow. Both of you are trying to be brave for the other. Your other boys have been instructed to sit tight and hang out until we receive more information about the accident. You feel the fear creeping up through your chest and into your throat threatening to shut off your airway. You know that something terrible has happened but you’re in denial still, wishing it away, forcing it out of your head so that you can stay calm.

Getting behind the wheel of a car after hearing the words ‘car’ and ‘accident’ in the same sentence seems surreal. Your normal habits are replaced with a hypersensitivity to your posture, your speed, the way your hands hold the steering wheel, your relative distance to the other cars around you. Everything is in a microscope; your body is tense, saying, ‘drive faster you idiot your kid may be hurt.’ But your mind is pulling back, withdrawing, pleading with you to be safe as the questions continue to pound in your head.

Was he going too fast? Did he panic? Was it caused by road construction? Why is this happening?

Then suddenly you come upon the scene of the accident. Everything is moving quickly now. Your eyes are adjusting to the dim light of dusk and the pulsating lights of emergency vehicles. And then your eyes see the wreckage; the mangled freeway barriers and the equally mangled car parts. You look on in horror at the condition of the small sedan you bought your son for his sixteenth birthday less than a year ago and a thought pops into your head, ‘Why did I buy that stupid car?’

You hardly have your own car in ‘Park’ and the emergency lights on in before you see your wife sprinting from the car and you are right behind her. You see your son and his two friends who had every intention of making it to a church meeting to be taught more about God and how better to serve Him and others and then it strikes you right in the chest so hard that you have to slow down and lean up against the same cement barriers to gather yourself and steady your legs – all three boys survived and that is all that matters. I take a breath, calm my heart and my emotions enough to speak with authority, and do my best to bring calm to the situation for those three boys.

When the chaos of the moment erupted I saw my sons’ life flash before my eyes and what the world would be like without him. I thought of his two friends and their families and felt the tremendous pressure that they must have been feeling and the relief I saw wash over their faces when they saw them upright, attentive and smiling. God is good.

According to my brother in-law who arrived upon the scene to assist and who has seen many accidents during his life in his profession, he is absolutely stunned that no one was seriously injured.

I could hardly sleep last night because I couldn’t stop thinking about what might have been. When I finally found rest I had nightmares that those three boys were gone and dozens of hopes and dreams were crushed with them. But this morning I can hardly explain my feelings of gratitude.

I am a deeply religious man – an imperfect one, but I still believe. I believe in a Heavenly Father that loves us and knows what is best for us as well as what is in store for us. I believe in my Savior Jesus Christ, His atonement and in His ability to give us strength when we are weak. I know with all my heart that after seeing the wreckage of that accident last night that the lives of three young men were spared for a worthy and special purpose. I don’t know what God has in store for them, but I know that they will serve Him honorably and faithfully.

We can replace cars – we can’t replace lives; especially the lives of those who are most precious to us – our children.

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10 Responses to We can replace cars – we can’t replace lives

  1. Lei says:

    Thank you Seti – I’ve been there and know exactly how you and Jen must have felt last night. You say so eloquently what we feel especially in regards to our children. Ofa atu to you and Jen and also to Sue and Manu. I’m so glad the boys were okay. That is the adversary trying to shake up the Lord’s future missionaries.

    • Seti Matua says:

      Thanks Lei – How are we going to survive teenagers? Thanks for being a blessing and yes, the Lord’s work will move forward in the hands of these great young men. Ofa atu!

  2. Hema says:

    Hug him tighter and longer! Your family is in my prayers. Ofa atu.

  3. Wow… powerful & moving post Seti. Grateful to the many miracles that Heavenly Father performs daily! Working in healthcare, it amazes me how there are still people out there that deny there is any such thing as a God… there are just way too many unexplained miracles for there not to be a greater source of power in our Universe! May He continue to watch over and protect all your families to fulfill your great callings… God bless.

    • Seti Matua says:

      We’ve definitely experienced a little miracle after this experience. I pray that God is always near. Have a great day and show the people in your life that you love them every hour of every day!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Malo Seti..Ia sao lava le nei article..Families are Forever..

  5. Wow. Praise the Lord for His protection and mercy! I had a similarly strong dose of fear recently when my eldest “disappeared” at a theme park for an hour. It turns out she was safely with her father (who had my phone) and had forgotten to tell me they were going to a different ride. I was sobbing and running through the park with security like a mad woman. No one can describe that moment of absolute, all-encompassing fear until they go through it. It makes you hug them tighter and forgive them more easily doesn’t it?

    • Seti Matua says:

      You’re so right about His tender mercies Cheryl. You can absolute relate to that feeling of hopelessness a parent feels when a child is harmed in any way or the thought of losing them. Giving our all to them is the best way every day. Thanks for your comments!

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