As some people have learned through other avenues, I was the victim of a head-on collision on June 13th of this year. Now some of you may know that my life has been a series of really unfortunate events for the last year or so, so at this point a tragedy like this didn't really come as a surprise to me.
All in all, i feel like everything that I have been through in the past year can be chocked up to another lesson learned, however, there is still this one thing looming that I cannot seem to grasp my head around.
On saturday, June 9th, my husband, son and I took a trip up to Norfolk, Virginia to spend some time at the beach with my father, sisters and some of my extended family. My husband and I had been trying to decide when to take this trip because I had a series of tasks that I had to get completed over the same time frame that my father had rented out a beach house. Late that Friday night my husband and I decided to go ahead and make the drive on Saturday morning and then come home Monday so that I could be home for a panel interview that I had scheduled for that Tuesday, We enjoyed Saturday evening and the full day Sunday at the beach and come Monday morning, I offered to drive back alone and then come back to retrieve my husband and son after I completed the interview on Tuesday. At the time, I was also juggling a Real Estate course on the side hoping to get another beneficial trade under my belt and I figured that I could return home, attend class and the interview and come back---allowing my family to enjoy their much needed vacation for a longer timeframe.
I drove home to North Carolina on Monday, and I really enjoyed the drive. I had seriously forgotten at that point how rewarding it can be to take a long drive alone. With a child, sometimes one can forget how peaceful this can be. I made it home in the late afternoon Monday and decided to relax at home and not do much of anything that night. I did laundry, I cleaned, I enjoyed the peace and quiet of my home. Again, another thing we can forget with the busy life that children bring.
I woke up Tuesday morning and I drove to my Panel Interview. I left feeling like I had made a bit of a fool of myself, but was happy to of gotten it over with. We all know that these things can be a little nerve racking. I was confident that I had done fine, but was very critical at some of my responses to the questions asked.
The night of Tuesday, June 12th, I had coffee with my mother. I discussed my panel interview with some friends that knew the process well and asked for some insight and I returned home. Earlier that day, I had dabbled with the idea of returning to Virginia that evening so that I could spend some extra time away with my family, but decided against it because I felt that I had been running on little sleep and there was no rush. It seemed safer this way.
Ultimately, this (what seemed) rational thought process did not work in my favor at all. On Wednesday morning, June 13th. I got up early, I did my hair and makeup...Again, cherishing this rare opportunity to do so. I sat down and sewed a small hole in my favorite pair of jeans that I had not been able to find the time to repair. I then got dressed, in these jeans and a black tank top and headed out. I made it to the small intersection just minutes from my home when I realized that I had forgotten my camera equipment. I hadn't left it at the beach in fear that it would be broken or misplaced---I made a circle back to my home and retrieved it.
As I went to leave my home the second time around, my dog looked at me sadly. He came to the door and stared at me, and nuzzled his nose in the door---not allowing me to close and lock it. We played this game for awhile before I quickly made my escape and got back on the road. Soon after, my friend called to discuss his care of our pets for the remainder of our trip. I put the phone on speaker and laid it onto my center counsel in my truck and spoke to him.
I took the same route that I always take away from my home, and I needed to stop by my mother's house to pick up one of my other swimsuits. I reached a stoplight and when the light turned green to turn---I made a left turn into the Northbound lane.
I had not been driving long. This was a road I knew well, and I was very content and comfortable driving. I was not distracted, I was not angry or sad, I was not emotional, I was in no rush---as I had planned to take the most scenic and enjoyable route back.
Moments after making that turn, I saw to my left a car coming toward me from the Southbound lane----It seemed to be happening in slow motion. I registered that the vehicle was coming toward me, but I never at any point in time registered that what was happening was a bad thing. I did not have time to brake, I did not have time to react---I saw it and then in slow motion my entire vehicle came crashing down around me. I felt my body fly upward against the seatbelt, and quickly after the initial impact, the rear end of the other vehicle came slamming into my drivers side door forcing the lower half of my body into the center counsel--I never even realized that the airbags had deployed.
In the initial ten seconds after, I was numb. I could not feel anything on my body. I smelled melting plastic and fumes and panicked at the idea that my car might be on fire. I made an attempt to push myself out of the drivers side window and realized that my shoulder was somehow stuck in place and my hip made a huge crushing sound. I then slumped back down in my seat and had the realization that something was seriously wrong. Still I felt nothing. I began to realize that I was struggling to breathe. It felt as if I had swallowed a dozen plastic bags and every breath was smaller than the last. I fought to reach the Onstar button in my vehicle until my hand made it, and I pressed it--nothing. It was then that I came to the realization that I was going to die.
I laid my head down on my arm, which was hanging outside of the drivers side window, and slowly began to listen to everything around me. At first I heard a frantic voice. One proclaimed that I was dead---and I believed it. Again I heard more yelling. Someone was accusing me. My sight was fading but my hearing and smell was going wild. I listened carefully to the screaming voices, arguing about who to place the blame upon. I wanted to scream that this was not my fault, that I did not do this. But no words came.
Everything slowly began to fade away from me, and I had accepted that this was death. I began to let go. The only real thoughts that came to mind for me at that point was "how will my family make it home if I have the car, my husband and son have no vehicle". I then began thinking that I was sorry. As I struggled to breathe, I accepted my fate and everything slowly turned white. My breathing was getting shallow and at this point I could barely make out anything in my field of vision except a small mesh of colors at the bottom of the bright light.
It was just at the point that I had given up that I saw a man standing on the sidewalk looking at me, i lifted my head as far as it would go, and I whispered "help me". This man rushed to my side, and began talking to me. I could see my phone--lodged between the door and the dashboard and I carefully tried to tell him it was there. I tried over and over to think of a phone number for someone he could call and only one instantly came to mind---my mothers. I repeated it over and over to him as best I can, but my ability to think was lessening. My breathing got increasingly difficult with time. This man, Patrick, held my hand and never left my side. If he had not come right at that moment, I had already stopped fighting, I had left go---his voice brought me back to reality just long enough to keep me from doing this again. A nurse who was passing by, came to my aid as well and when the EMTs arrived, I recall a young woman's voice in my car to the right of me. She stuck an IV into my right arm and for the first time since the impact, I felt something ---pain.
I don't recall how long I laid there really. I do recall small things that happened, but not the order in which they happened. I recall breathing in fumes from a fire extinguisher, I recall the smells, the haunting and sickening smells of melting plastic. I recall the first moment when I realized that I was bleeding. I recall the IV being put into my arm, and I recall it being ripped out as I was cut from the wreckage. I recall staring at a tattoo on Patrick's arm. I recall telling someone that I have Factor V, I recall informing someone that I had a firearm in my car---and hearing them tell me that they could not locate it--it was not where I had put it.
Finally, I recall the sound of the metal door being cut, but being unable to see anymore. I recall muffled voices, working together to pull my mangled body from the wreckage. I recall being lifted out of the car and the feelings of multiple hands tugging at my body as they counted down, I recall feeling my clothing---my favorite pair of jeans that I had just sewn back up---being cut from my body, and I recall the excruciating pain that radiated through me as I was lifted. Once I was laid flat onto the stretcher I recall a quick second in which I felt and saw a flash of my mangled body---my leg--backward and everything went quickly back to white---and then black.
I firmly believe now, that a person makes a conscious decision when to give up, when to stop fighting. There is a fine white line that is illustrated to our souls right before we cross over, and we ultimately make that choice, when to give up--and when to keep fighting for our lives. That decision may be dictated by the amount of pain and suffering that we are in, it may be by weak or strong minds---but I do believe it is there, and I also believe that the barrier that kept me from crossing that line, was the voice. The voice of a man who did not care how mangled or bloody my body was, a man who genuinely had nothing but concern, compassion and love in his heart. A man who ultimately kept me from that choice. I thank God daily that he allowed an angel into my life to help keep me strong. I am a fighter---we all are, but it is a lot easier to fight when someone is holding your hand.