On Friday evening, I could have lost my life. It’s Sunday now and I can finally talk about it without crying, shaking and losing my breath. I had just hugged my daughter goodbye for the weekend at the drop off location with her dad. I was just ten minutes south. I was driving in the right lane, cruise control set to about the speed limit, no music, no phone, just me, my thoughts and a beautiful sky filled with a brilliant ribbon of clouds, lit by the sun.
And then it happened. An old, blue, I think it was blue, pickup truck pulled in front of me. It’s a divided, four-lane highway and I guess he was trying to head north, opposite of me. In that flash, I slammed on my brakes and laid on the horn. I tried to swerve, but he pulled right in front of me. There was no time.
I knew. My mind flashed and I knew this wasn’t going to be a near miss that makes your heart thump out of your chest. I was going to hit him. Luckily, I hit the bed of the truck and not the driver himself.
It’s surreal. I remember knowing it was going to happen, the force of the collision, the airbag deflating, almost like a soft whoosh across my face, spinning, a very hard force on my head and then coming to rest. I was facing the wrong way in the grass next to the road, my horn blaring. I had rolled and spun, apparently.
It was a flash, but it changed my life.
I am OK. I have a very large, deep gash in my head. I’m missing chunks of my scalp and a whole lot of hair, either from the medical team’s scissors or said chunks. Wouldn’t you know it? I’ve been growing my hair out for more than two years and I was finally liking it. I think I will end up with a pretty short cut, although nothing will hide this giant, jagged series of lacerations from the top of my crown to the back of my head.
Above all, I’m grateful. I could have died. Easily. I could be in a coma right now. I could be brain dead or paralyzed. My outcome could have been totally different. I’m not sure how I survived that crash without much worse injuries, albeit mine are bad. But I did. God has a plan for me still. My time isn’t up. And I plan to make the most of it.
We relocated to this area less than five months ago because of my job. It’s been hard. We miss our friends. We miss our home. We miss everything about Charlottesville. The pandemic has increased the loneliness and isolation of a new town.
When you think you are alone, remember you’re not.
Somehow, I’ve made two good friends in this town. Dear, giving and loving women who dropped everything for me. Nickole who drove to the hospital at 1:30 a.m. to get me. Who slept on the big, cushy chair outside my bedroom. Who got up in the middle of the night to let my sweet dog out, who clearly had to go to the bathroom, but wouldn’t leave my side. Nickole, who woke early the next morning to get my antibiotics, but also a venti white mocha latte, warm soup, bread, quiche, popsicles and so much more. We sweet friend who put her life and her four kids, three cats, three puppies and husband on hold to take care of a friend she’d met less than six months ago. A friend who wouldn’t leave my side because she didn’t want to leave me alone. A friend who anticipated my every need and did everything from the dishes to feeding my dog. I am humbled. I am loved.
And then my sweet friend Aimee, who I only recently met. We live on the same street, we’re both new to town and our daughters are the same age. Our encounters totaled two before this weekend. We’d sat outside talking when she and her daughter had ventured down the street to introduce themselves to us and then again, a snowing Sunday last week when we spent an afternoon sledding. We hardly know each other, and yet, she put her life on hold to come and clean my wound, washing out enough clumps of hair and blood to clog my daughter’s tub, putting her ICU nursing skills to work. She washed and bleached my blood-stained sheets and pillowcases. She retrieved water, food and whatever I needed, promising to bring dinner and return the next day to check on my wound and wellbeing. I am humbled. I am loved.
I had sent texts to my closest friends and family. Texts that resulted in more texts and calls than I could field. Promises of food, transportation, prayers and anything at all. Again, I am humbled. And I am loved.
And then my sweet, wonderful daughter came home early from her weekend with her dad and brother. She’d been looking forward to some time away from mom. What soon-to-be 16-year-old wants to be trapped at home with your mom for a year? I mean really. She’s been a trooper. She’s doing so remarkably well and I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of her. Pandemic, moving, online school, no friends in a new town, being a teenage girl stuck with your mom 24-7. She’s remarkable. I could sing her praises from the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains and it wouldn’t be enough.
She came home, hugged me as long as I wanted, let me tickle her legs, arms, whatever I could touch, and sat with me watching one of my shows for hours. She got me water, tea, food, medicine, whatever I needed and didn’t complain. She helped me bathe. I joked that it was what she always wanted to do, and yet, she said she didn’t mind. She even set her alarm clock for the early hours (9 a.m. is very early when you don’t normally rise before 2 p.m. – pandemic teen time). She has loved and supported me and anticipated my needs. I am humbled. I am loved.
My poor parents, distressed and scared, age helping them to understand what could have happened. My siblings calling and texting, praying for me, offering to help where they can. I am humbled. I am loved.
As I sit here, reflecting on everything, on life, on what I want, on my family and friends far and wide, I am so incredibly grateful. It’s awfully hard for me to ask for help, but I did. And, wow, I am blown away. I never want to go through something like this again. However, what it has shown me is the deep love I have for others, the incredible love my friends and family so willingly share with me, the giving and loving hearts of new friends and the deep love of my amazing daughter. What it shows me is that we are not alone in this world and if we let down our defenses and let others in, they will show up. They will love us. They will be there when we can’t be there for ourselves. Don’t wait until you have a life-threatening accident to pull back the veil and see your friends and family for who they are and all that they add to your life.
Oh, and my cute convertible that was my dream car. The one I gave to my daughter for Christmas, me choosing an older, less sleek car. I see it being sold and traded in for a Subaru in the very near future.
I am humble. I am lucky. I am loved. I am grateful.