Pretty dramatic title, eh? I’ve been waffling about whether or not I wanted to share this ever since it happened last week. This post is likely to be much more personal than I usually get on here, and definitely much more horrifying than a typical Monday post. But, it just feels disingenuous to share the color palette and baby nursery inspiration I had planned for this week when that stuff is just so far off from how I’m actually feeling. So, here it goes…
Last Wednesday, I picked Eva up from school in the afternoon and we were running errands, much like a any other weekday. We’d been grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, and had one more stop to buy little girl toothpaste at the pharmacy by our house. It was 3:30 PM when we pulled into the first non-handicapped parking spot at our neighborhood CVS. I was talking to Eva in the back seat, somewhat distracted as I began to open my car door. The rest happened so quickly. A man approached our car, and my first reaction was that he was homeless and asking for money. As I began to shake my head and tell him I didn’t have any cash, his body because uncomfortably close to mine. In a split second, it became clear that this was not the interaction I had expected. He looked me dead in the eyes, told me that he had a gun, and to get in the passenger’s seat.
Eva was still strapped in her booster seat in the back. He hadn’t shown me a gun, his hands were visible, and I saw an unfamiliar (possibly drug induced) crazy look in his eyes. in a split-second, I reacted. Friends and family have been telling me how brave I am for what happened in the next few seconds, but in that moment, all I could think about was keeping my daughter and unborn son safe, and ending that moment as quickly as possible. I reacted with sheer, primal, survival instinct. I kicked the man in his guts with every bit of strength in my body, and screamed the loudest scream imaginable. By now, adrenaline had set in. The man punched at my pregnant stomach and face, put his hands around my neck, and grabbed me by the ankles in an attempt to physically remove me from the vehicle. I didn’t feel any of it and I managed to block him pretty effectively, thankful it was over in just a few seconds.
A second man approach my car and pulled the attacked off of me. I learned later that he was actually a firefighter who just happened to be on break. He was bigger, stronger, and exceedingly more capable than the attacker. Our firefighter hero stepped in, and completely took control of the situation. I was able to close and lock my car door, and call 911. The police were there in about 5 minutes, maybe less. During that time, the attacker tried to flee in another car and on foot, which was prevented by our firefighter hero. A large crowd heard my screams, and gathered around the edges of the CVS parking lot. Many people pulled out their phones and took video. The entire attack was caught on the CVS security cameras. Both the firefighter hero and I were able to positively identify the attacker. Later, I learned that the attacker had stolen the car he tried to flee in earlier in the day, and had attempted to rob a dollar store down the street just before he tried to carjack me (AND MY CHILDREN). He is in jail, and will likely stay there for a very very long time.
I feel so deeply grateful that in the moment, I was able to make my body react the right way. I’m grateful for the kindness of strangers who stuck around to give statements to the police, and bring water and juice to the car for Eva and I. Most of all I’m grateful for Steven, the firefighter who was responsible for the capture of the attacker, and also quite possibly for saving the lives of my children and I. In the moment, he reacted without hesitation. He put his own life at risk to save mine. It wasn’t until later that he learned I was pregnant and had my four year old daughter in the back seat. He just did it, because it was the right thing to do. I’m quite sure he would have done the same for you.
I’d be lying if I said this event hasn’t affected me deeply. I feel a bit scared in my own skin, and so angry at this man for putting my children and my own life in danger. It’s hard to think about much else…how if anything had happened a little differently, this story could have a much worse ending. Eva was understandably scared when it happened, but seems to be coping quite well. We are watching her like a hawk for any signs of emotional trauma, but so far, so good.
You might think it hard to find a positive takeaway in this situation, but I don’t think so. We have our lives! So many friends and family members have called since it happened. We’ve received so much support, and so many I love yous. On Thursday afternoon, Eva was eating raspberry sorbet with the biggest grin on her face. I started crying, because I just couldn’t possibly love her sticky, freckled little face any more. Every baby kick in my belly feels like such a precious gift. When Sean gets home from work and we can all be in the garden or reading books together, it just feels like heaven. I’ve never felt more in love with my life or my family. It’s going to take some time to feel normal again, and until then, I’m going to take a break from blogging. I need to hold the people I love extra close, and take care of myself too. Thanks for your support.
image by kitty sabatier