My husband Todd has instructed me to always start this story with “my daughter is okay,” because my heart still bears the scars from an uncertain time when being so far away gave new meaning to “letting go.” As I reflect back on a Halloween phone call received two years ago when Larissa was a first-year at USC, I still tear up and probably always will.
Not a trick — while crossing the street on the way home from an early evening run at Strom, Larissa was struck by an SUV and thrown several feet. I received a call from Columbia Police telling me about the accident, that Larissa had been struck and was in shock, asking for help to locate her ID and medical card and to find someone to ride in ambulance to the emergency room with her.
During this call at roughly 6 p.m., we were traveling from Ohio to Virginia, and were pretty close to the mountains of West Virginia with poor cell reception. We managed to track down the phone number of the emergency room, but spent a very long hour with little information. There was, I think, just one brief phone call from her suitemate with limited information about her injuries. Thankfully, this same route was taking us closer to her as we imagined the worst and prayed for the best.
As we neared a decision point in our travel, we got to talk to Larissa and the doctors who had determined that she was pretty banged up with wounds on her knees, bum and elbow, but had not suffered any internal injuries or broken bones. I even got a picture of her smiling along with pictures of the wounds. They released her after several tests and only a few hours — pretty miraculous. After determining there was little we could do, we headed on to Virginia but kept in close contact.
Students should make sure that they have medical cards and emergency contact information — and not just in their phones, which can be damaged, have coverage issues or be taken by emergency workers.
Likewise, parents should have contact information for their children's RMs and friends and know contact information for the closest hospitals to campus or your student’s housing.
I couldn’t get to Larissa quickly enough to take care of her — but she grew because of it. Larissa told me that she wouldn’t have learned to ask for help if I had been there. Her new community checked on her in the emergency room, got her home, helped her to get medications, bandages, takeout food from the dining hall, dry shampoo for her hair, transportation to student health when she was too sore to walk, and moral support.
Parents — it isn’t easy to let our kids grow up, but it is a special treat. I will be forever grateful that this scary story has a happy ending.
If you are together this Parents Weekend, remember to hug each other and appreciate this time together.