She extended her hand across my chest as she slammed on the car brakes. Umi (Arabic for mother) always did that every time she she braked really hard. I’ve always wondered why but never got around to asking her.
One time I did. “Why did you put your hand in front of me like that every time you brake hard, Umi? I’m wearing a seatbelt”, I asked just as she pressed the brakes a little roughly. Her answer was based on experience.
Umi told me, once when I was small, I sat at the backseat as she drove. I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, as lots of children back then didn’t. And she hit the brakes really hard as the car in front suddenly stopped. Inertia had me in its grasp, and I tumbled forward right into the shotgun seat. “I was so scared, you were so quiet after”, she said. I wasn’t hurt or anything but I quietly stared back at her, in shock.
Thats when I knew her reflex was more than just one. It was her protecting me, to make up for the time she didn’t. I heard her regret in her voice and just like any mother, she wished she did more to protect me, her precious child, from that sudden jolt.
I was touched, deeply.