October 28, 2014
The following is Part I in a series. It’s all true. Peace, ~v.
I have started to write the following post more than once in the past month or so, but I could never get past the first paragraph. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write this post, it’s just that every time I sit down to type it, my mind either goes blank or it whirls with questions whose answers I haven’t been able to receive through prayer. Either way, I end up sitting at my computer, staring off into space. Now however, it’s time.
Before I begin, I humbly ask my family, specifically my children and my mother, to forgive me for not telling them about my accident. It was, and still is so surreal that I have trouble believing it actually happened the way that it did. Suffice it to say that mine was the only vehicle involved, and I was the only one hurt (but just a little). Also, and I suppose I should have mentioned this first, I am fine, really, really fine. Then again, that seems to be my problem.
Some Great Day
“If you can just stay awake, you’ll live,” said the voice, as my head slammed into the driver’s side door of my truck. Seconds before, I had been winding my way through the beautiful Cerbat Mountains, on my way home from an almost perfect day of school. Now, I was just another motorist involved in a highway accident, a victim, a statistic. How did I get here? And more importantly, why was I spared?
I have written and rewritten the above paragraph over and over again until I have it memorized. I can revise it no more. It is, as they say, what it is, and no amount of editing on my part is going to change that. Here’s the thing, I was in this stupid accident and I’m having difficulty writing about it, much less accepting it. The difficulty in writing is two-fold, really. I fractured my left wrist, my writing hand, so no journal writing. And typing with only my right hand is slow and tedious. As for the acceptance part, well, that one’s on its way.
My day had ended on such a high note. It was one of those rare days since becoming a teacher that I was going home without reflecting on what I could have done differently with my lesson so that more of my students would have been engaged. I didn’t have to reflect on the negatives of the lesson; all of my students had mostly been on task. They even seemed to have enjoyed the web quest I sent them on and creating power point presentations of their cyber-journey.
I must say, I was proud of my students at the end of that day. Collectively, they seemed to have conquered the maturity speed bump of behaving appropriately in the computer lab. I made a mental note to be sure and tell them how proud I was of them the next day. And with that, I locked up my classroom and started for home.
Unburdened by the day’s events, I was more relaxed than usual. That’s not to say that I was fall-asleep-relaxed. No, I was just not as uptight as I usually am and I didn’t have a death grip on the steering wheel like I usually do. I have an hour’s ride home every day through the Cerbat Mountains and it usually takes me a good 20 minutes before I begin to loosen my grip and relax my shoulders. Any other day of the workweek, the beautiful scenery coupled with a soothing audio book is usually sufficient to bring me back to center.
As a creature of habit, I grabbed my phone, ready to peruse my digital library for a relaxing yet engaging audible to accompany me on my drive home. But before my nimble fingers had finished tapping out my super, secret pass code, I paused, I smiled, and I shook my head.
“Not today,” I said to no one in particular, unless you count Siri who was fast asleep, my having not unlocked my phone. I placed my phone in the middle console, secure in the fact that I would need no calming narrative to ease my stress; I had none. I happily eased out of the parking lot.
The next 20 minutes are difficult for me to put into words. All of my senses were heightened. I was aware of every bend in the road as I wound my way through town and up towards the mountains. At one point, it dawned on me that I had missed all of the bumps and potholes on the road without even trying. I also remember catching most, if not all green lights on my way out of town. I had a positive vibe within and without and all around me. I was happy and smiling and feeling…different.
Right before I hit the last light out of town, it dawned on me that perhaps I was feeling too prideful. Usually when I have a particularly good day, I credit myself first, my students second. That is a hard thing to admit, and my pride always goes before my fall (deservedly so, I might add). This particular day, it wasn’t like that. I was proud of my students and wasn’t even thinking that I had anything to do with their reaching a maturity milestone.
I was feeling so good that I reached for my phone with the intent of listening to some music that matched my mood. This time, my fingers didn’t even touch the screen before my hand was putting the phone back into its cradle. My mind wanted to soak up this good feeling without interference.
I was doing the speed limit, 65 mph, and I was about seven miles into the uphill mountain road. Although I can recall with pristine clarity everything that occurred as my truck began to roll, I cannot explain what happened in the moments before I lost control of the truck.
I felt the truck begin to roll toward the driver’s side, only two wheels on the road. I saw a car in front of me and knew I was going to roll right into its rear end. I closed my eyes, let go of the steering wheel and went completely limp. That’s when I heard the voice.
“If you can just stay awake, you’ll live,” said the voice, as my head slammed into the driver’s side door. This was the first roll. As I rolled upside down, it dawned on me that I was in no pain. “I’m dead,” I thought as I felt the truck roll upright.
“You won’t die if you stay awake,” said the voice. This time I felt the left side of my body slam into the ground. This was the second roll. Even though my body had struck the ground, I was still belted into the cab of the truck and I was about to turn upside down, again. I could feel the roof of the cab crushing down on me. “How come my head doesn’t hurt?” I wondered. My body felt the impact each time the truck rolled over. But I couldn’t feel the pain.
As the truck began to right itself for the second time, I knew we had too much momentum to stop. “One more,” said the voice. This was the third and final roll. I could feel that my glasses had remained on my face and I was struck with the oddest of thoughts, “My head doesn’t hurt because I’m still wearing my glasses,” (I’m still trying to figure that one out). It was then that the truck pounded to a stop, right side up. “Stay awake,” spoke the voice one last time, and then it disappeared.
The truck had stopped with such force, and my body had been moving with such tremendous momentum that my legs were flung ragdoll-like out of the cab. The mangled driver’s side door having worn out its usefulness, offered no more protection. My hips were safely wedged between the lap portion of the seat belt and the desert floor as I half sat, half dangled from the front seat. The only thing stopping me from lying in repose was the seat belt shoulder strap wrapped around my neck like a noose.
Within seconds, I whipped off the shoulder strap from around my neck, unbuckled the seat belt holding me hostage, and walked away from the crash.
To be continued.