A few weeks ago, I was the first to arrive at an accident. Click here to read the blog I wrote about it.
And then today, on my way home from work in the ice and snow, this happened to me:
These pictures were taken at the place where the car was towed, not at the scene. Had they been taken at the scene, the car wouldn’t be sitting right side up. And it wouldn’t be on level ground. It would be down over a bank.
But let me back up a little.
If you haven’t read my old blog entry, what I’m about to say probably won’t have as much of an effect. As for me, the one who was there – the effect is surreal. I still can’t quite wrap my mind around it.
So, I was on my way home from work today. I left early so that I could take my son to a doctor’s appointment (which ended up being canceled due to the weather – go figure). The weather was getting pretty rough, but I’ve driven in this stuff a million times. When you live an hour one-way from where you work, traveling is not a big deal. I’ve driven through it all. I’m not saying I’m careless…I know when to slow down and when to take it easy. But I’ve never been one to shy away from driving somewhere because of road conditions. So, off I went.
The roads were horrible. I hadn’t seen them like this in a while. It happened so suddenly and unexpectedly. I hadn’t heard anything forecasted like this and wasn’t really ready for how quickly the road conditions changed. And – just like that – I lost control.
Everything is really a blur to tell you the truth. The EMT workers explained to me (like I heard them to do the woman in my previous blog a few weeks ago) that it’s not uncommon for you to lose your memory temporarily after something like this. All I remember is losing control of the car. I vaguely remember being upside down more than once (I’m told now that the car probably flipped twice on the way down the bank), and I remember opening my eyes after it was all over. I remember looking around the car and realizing that everything was everywhere. Stuff I didn’t even know I had in the car was now laying on the seat beside me, in the floorboard, in my lap, etc. I began to frantically search for my phone. I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do when I found it. I just wasn’t thinking straight. I tried to open my car door and, of course, it wouldn’t open. The car was tilted on its side and I was stuck. When I finally was able to find my phone in the middle of the clutter, my first call was not to 911 like any sane person would have done, but it was to Richard. (I pause here to reflect on how different that call would have been a month ago. Just one short month ago when Richard and I weren’t even talking and were trying to live our lives pretending the other didn’t exist. Would he have still been the one I called? Strangely, I’m certain he would have been. But I digress…) So, I called Richard and tried to frantically tell him what happened. Before I could even get out one garbled sentence, I heard a voice from outside the car. I turned around and realized for the first time that there was no back window anymore on my car. An elderly man was calling to me from the outside asking if I was ok.
I was actually shocked that anyone was there. When I lost control of the car, I was on a road where there was no traffic. And after looking around me, I realized that I had gone down over a steep bank and could not be seen from the road. I asked him how he knew I was there and he said he and his son were passing by and saw my tire tracks in the ice and snow and saw the broken fence. They pulled over and looked down the bank and saw my car and didn’t hesitate to climb down the bank and come to me. They helped me out of the car through the only door that would open – the passenger side. Once I got out of the car, I realized that I wasn’t exactly as ok as I thought I was. The world was spinning and I got the first sensations of a headache. The man and his son helped me climb the bank up to the road and get into a truck (their truck? I’m not even sure). Eventually people started arriving and the rest is pretty much a blur. As I began to calm down, I realized my head really really hurt. At some point a woman got into the truck and began talking to me. I’m still not sure who she was or why she was there…except that I think I heard her say she lived down the road. And at one point while she was talking to me, I looked down and realized something that brought a flood of memories back to me. I was holding her hand. Holding her hand. Just like the woman in my last blog held mine.
At this point, I finally started to cry. In fact, I sobbed. Through my incoherence and tears, I tried to explain to her how very grateful I was that she, and all of the other people were there. I finally knew how the woman in the white car felt. I was now the woman in the white car. And I was the one in need of the kindness of strangers.
Richard soon arrived and I don’t remember much after that. He took over with all the details (talking to the police officer, gathering my things, etc.) and I was whisked away in an ambulance due to the nice size knots forming on my noggin. After a painful ambulance ride, a million questions, and a CT scan, it was deemed that my mother had always been right…I really am hard-headed. This exceptionally thick skull of mine finally served its purpose and kept everything inside safe. I was going to be ok.
Now, ready for the good part?
As they were rolling me into the hospital, all I could think about was “Denise.” The woman in the wreck a few weeks ago. I was pretty sure her name was Denise. And I remembered her saying she worked at this hospital. This hospital. So, I asked for her. The technician who was working on me at the time said that yes, he did know her, and was she a friend of mine? I didn’t really know how to answer that or explain why I was asking about her. So I didn’t. I just said, “this happened to her.”
And a few minutes later, there she was.
It was surreal. There I lay on the stretcher, the same way she laid just a few short weeks ago, and now it was her by my side. She remembered me – of course she remembered me – and again, she held my hand. We talked and talked. She told me how she was doing (oh how many times I wondered that) and told me that she thought of me many times and wondered who I was and why I had stopped for her that day. I told her how much I now realized what she had went through and how grateful I was that our paths had crossed again in this fateful, ironic way. While the doctors and nurses swirled around us, we just talked. Just like old friends. Old friends whose paths had crossed at a time when they needed to. And were now crossing again – for the same reason.
I’m not even sure how to put into words what I’m trying to say here with this blog. The girl who is always so full of words is finally somewhat speechless. There’s a lesson to be learned here and I’m grasping trying to figure out what it is. Perhaps my head will be a little clearer tomorrow when it doesn’t hurt quite so much. But for tonight, through the pain, this is all I know to tell you. Everything – everything – happens for a reason. What you sow, you will reap. Reach out and help someone when you can, because next time it might be you that needs the help.
Next time, you might be the woman in the white car.
“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”
– John Lennon