A left turn onto a busy street. A car barreling towards me. A frantic beep of the horn. The crash into my door. My body slamming backwards and lurching forward. A guttural cry and the sound of rapid breaths.
That was how my Tuesday began. I was nearing the office and took the left turn onto Route 135 from Bacon Street. I had been waiting for the cars signaling for Bacon Street to turn (hearing Daddy’s voice in my head saying, “Don’t trust signals.”). I wish I had heeded that voice just a moment longer. The last car started to turn and I pulled out but didn’t realize that car had blocked my view. I never the saw the other car coming.
It was just like that little phobia I’ve had over the last few years: the idea of a flashing neon sign on my door saying, “Hit me!” It happened in slow motion. When the car struck me I cried out. I began breathing heavily, yelling, the world was in a fog. I didn’t appear to be hurt but there was a slight twinge of pain in my neck.
A woman driving past us stopped, asking if we had called the police. I was still breathing very heavily and answered “No.” I had no idea what to do. She was very kind and placed the call.
I looked over at the other vehicle and saw a heavy set, younger woman. She sat very still. A frantic feeling washed over me. Was she alright? I had to know. I tried to move my car but it wouldn’t budge so I climbed over the passenger side and got out, running over to the other vehicle. Looking at the driver I asked her, “Are you alright, are you alright? I am so sorry, I didn’t see you!” Her face was blank, no answer; I assumed she was stunned. I touched her slightly on the shoulder, again saying, “I’m so sorry!”
Other drivers pulled over to help. A tow truck driver asked if we needed an ambulance. Gut instinct said, “Yes,” and he called the hospital. The police had arrived and asked me to describe what happened. “I was turning onto Route 135, I couldn’t see the other car, is she alright?” Somehow I knew enough to take out my license and registration and when asked, I handed them over.
Before I knew it, kind voices and consoling hands talked me down from my fright and led me over to the ambulance. For some reason, all I could think about was to just be nice. Be nice to all these kind people taking care of me.
Just a short way down the street was the Leonard Morse Hospital where I had last seen Aunt Anna. Her sweet round face flashed across my mind as I entered the hospital only to be replaced a stronger wave of emotions rolling over me as I remembered my mother in the ER that last time three years ago. I was surprised at the force of that wave and it wouldn’t be the last time it would roll over me.
Nurses with pleasant smiles offered consolation as my blood pressure and temperature were taken. A young blond female doctor asked me how I felt and explained what would happen next. A series of X-rays, maybe a CAT scan, depends what shows up on the film. A handsome young orderly gently wheeled me to the imaging area and I thought, “Yeah, they are that good looking, just like on “ER.” It all felt like a dream.
Once inside the X-ray room, the reality of what had happened began to settle in. I thought of God and how grateful I was that I was okay. I thought of the Virgin Mary and felt a strong sense of consolation from her, mothering me, wrapping her love around me like a blanket. It was then that the wave returned, rolling over me, higher and higher. It was as if my own mother was there, caring for me the way she used to when I was home from school, sick. The warmth of her love was palpable and tears sprung to my eyes with that memory. Rather than have to explain why I was crying, I struggled to control myself. This was our special time, a secret, stolen moment between Mommy and me that would not be interrupted with needless conversation or questions.
The X-rays were completed with the good news that there was no injury to my neck other than a slight case of whiplash. I thanked God in my heart and started humming my favorite hymns from church.
Calls went back and forth to Rich letting him know what was happening. Phone service was spotty in the ER so I resorted to texts. I could tell he was torn between what was happening and the work that was expected of him so I tried to limit the calls. I felt a sudden desire to speak with my daughter and gave her a call, just to tell her what had happened. “Where are you?” she asked, “Would you like me to come over?” There was such authority in her voice and I knew I wanted her by my side. I texted the address to her and she arrived shortly thereafter.
Soon I was cleared to leave and opted to go to the office. I felt fine and saw no reason for going home if only to brood and worry. I knew the complicated part would come after the accident: the insurance, arranging for a rental car, trying to retrieve my own car, lots of decisions, concerns over money … Right now, still in my fog, I just wanted to stay in the moment. I didn’t want to go backwards, and I didn’t want to think about the future. The present seemed just fine with me.
I miss my husband, I miss my children. I miss my Mommy.
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8 thoughts on “A car crash, a hospital visit, a visit with my mother … just another day”
I made that left turn almost 20 years ago and my car was totaled. At the time I felt ok and, in fact, taught my class that day. The following day I had quite a reaction. During the accident time slowed down. Did you experience that? I could think clearly but was helpless to do anything physical as the car whirled with me in its grip. The seat belt did its job or the damage (to me) might have been very bad.
You are here now, and that is what matters.
Yes! Time slowed down for me too. It’s such a weird feeling. I was surprised how clear headed I was despite the fear. I looked at the damage to the car yesterday and the driver of the other car apparently was able to veer away from me enough to avoid direct contact with the car door. She struck the front corner which bent the wheel. Had she struck the door it would have been quite a different story yesterday! And yes, I think the seat belt helped a lot too.
Your story truly resonated with me. My pub has a fear of left-hand turns onto busy streets. In early reporting days, she was put on police beat. Lots of serious and often fatal accidents with the left-hand turn. People are either impatient or underestimate the speed of oncoming traffic. If possible, she goes to a traffic signal, even if it’s a mile out of the way. So glad you’re OK. Listen to your daddy. Her dad’s auto advise was always fill up when your gas gauge registers 1/4 tank. Aren’t dads the best? xo LMA
Indeed they are and thank you for the good wishes!
Oh, I’m so sorry. I love how your focus was on being nice. Best luck with what follows.
Thanks! Just to show you how lost I am in my book’s main character, she was one of the first examples I tried to follow. 🙂
I was in a car accident two years ago and it still makes me feel anxious. I was in physical therapy and have to go back because I am getting numbness in my hand. It happens so suddenly then the impact of it all and the shock. You feel grateful to come out alive, especially when you see the condition of the vehicle.
I agree! It was a white-knuckle drive in today in the rental but I made myself take the same route. I feel the anxiety at night when it’s dark and quiet in the house.