Well this day will go down in the books. It was so terrible that I thought maybe writing about it would be cathartic…a way to expel the immense stress my body is carrying around as a result of the brushes with shock and adrenaline I’ve experienced.
It all started this morning when I was dragged from a dead to the world sleep by a pounding knock on the front door. I didn’t fall asleep until 1:30 AM, so even though it was now 6 AM my body thought it was the middle of the night. I was scared to death to hear banging on the door, especially since Cody had been out of town for a few days and I was on my own with the kids. I ran to the front of the house, unsure of what to expect, and saw a policeman on my porch. Somehow that didn’t make it better.
He was responding to a neighbor’s report of a suspicious person and attempted car burglary when he happened to notice that the sliding door of my van was open there in the driveway. He asked me to come look through it to see if anything had been stolen. In a fog, I got my robe and went into the darkness to explore my very open van. Nothing was missing. Imagine that- my mom van isn’t a hot target for thieves. They didn’t want that bag full of burlap, or the empty fast food sacks on the floor. In fact, I’m pretty certain the kids and I just forgot to close the door the night before. Even though nothing was wrong, my heart was pounding. I even called a friend and cried a little bit after it was over.
I got the kids up and 2/3 of them were a bit frightened about pounding they had heard on the door (I thought no one woke up, but I guess I was wrong.) So we got off to s shaky start but made it to church. After church, we had the next heart-pounding experience.
We were in the van driving home when the car in front of us lost control and had an extremely violent crash. I will never forget it- it’s something you just never see and it’s etched vividly in my mind. (Unfortunately, I’ve been replaying it all afternoon.) We were headed west on 635 then took the big ramp to exit to 75 North. You may know there is a rather bug curve at the top of that ramp before it straightens out to the north. The car in front of us went close to the right wall on that curve. I even remarked about it to Ava who was in the passenger seat. But it got back inside the lines. Then it got kind of close to the left wall. Again I made a comment. But it straightened out again. Then as we got on the straight part of the road after the curve the car just started gliding to the right- farther and farther and farther and I said “It’s going to hit the wall!” And it did slam into the wall hard. Then it swerved all the way across a few lanes and hit the left wall so hard it flew up into the air. Then it swerved hard to the right again, hit the right wall, and stopped.
I was just slowing down, watching it all happen, thinking “how can this be?” I drove slowly past the stopped car and saw a woman slumped over in the seat. I pulled over and stopped about 20 yards ahead of the car. Calling 911 was difficult because my hands were shaking and I kept dialing 911 instead of my passcode to open my iPhone. I finally got my passcode entered and dialed 911 and explained to the dispatcher our location and what I had seen. I gave her my name and verified my number in case they needed to call me later.
Meanwhile, a red truck stopped behind the car and a man got out to check on the woman. And cars were just zipping past us like crazy. I was too afraid to get out. I leaned out of the passenger side to yell to the man the news that I had called 911. Then another car stopped in front of me and a woman got out and ran back to my van. She was checking on us first- as she had not seen the accident. I sent her to the other car telling her it was the only one involved. She was a nurse. She stayed there until the ambulance and firetruck arrived. When she came back by my van she told me the woman was awake, but incoherent, and she had a bad cut.
I thought I would stay until police arrived but I had already been there a long time and none had shown up and then I started feeling confused about if they were coming or not. The firetruck had made the traffic slower, but it started to move a bit and I got worried that it was leaving and the traffic was about to get fast again and I’d never be able to get off the shoulder if it was moving fast. So I went ahead and drove off. Maybe they will call me about the accident later. I don’t know. I think mostly I was in total shock and not really thinking clearly about it all.
When I got home it took a while for the shock to wear off completely, and then I was overcome with physical symptoms that I have to assume came from the let down after such an adrenaline rush. I was nauseated and achy. My back and neck hurt like crazy, and a blanket of exhaustion just wrapped itself around me to the point where I thought I would fall over asleep. But I could not sleep, because the scene was replaying over and over in my mind. Some of the kids are also having trouble with anxiety and sadness. Lucas is especially concerned that whatever happened to the woman driving that car is going to happen to me while I’m driving.
This day was so surreal, so unexpected. I feel like I’ve been dealing with panic and stress since that moment I woke up to the pounding on my door. I know many people have worse experiences than these, and in reality nothing bad has actually happened to me or my loved ones, but I’ve had a front row seat to trauma, and it has not been easy to overcome.
*I wrote this post yesterday and am happy to report that Cody is on his way home AND I had a lovely, non-stressful pedicure today. Two things that have brightened my outlook after the stresses I wrote about above.