Many of you already know, but here is an account of what happened last Friday night. After babysitting some really wonderful kids, I started home at 11:15pm. I drove 40-ish minutes on winding back roads, the radio turned up loud because I could tell I was tired. Turned onto my street,which wound this way and that . . . I opened my eyes and saw a telephone pole, then hit it. There was no time to brake or swerve. I remember a few thoughts/feelings in that moment before impact: first, disbelief/shock/sadness that I was crashing the truck, and second, that I could die. Thankfully my mph was about 30, and thankfully I was driving a solid old ’96 Ford Explorer. And yet again, thankfully, the airbags both deployed. The truck ended up sharing the side-of-the-road ditch with the pole, and completely on its right side. The pole snapped almost entirely through.
As I “came to” (whether I was ever actually unconscious I do not know, but if so it was extremely brief), I could tell pretty quickly that I was hanging in the seat at an odd angle. Felt my face stinging painfully and swelling; could tell my lips and eyelids were huge. Looked around and registered the situation of the car, and that the airbags were out and that’s what must have hit my face.
Hmm, instead of trying to say all this in narrative form, it will be much more efficient to write a little list of the events of those next few minutes:
1) Felt my face for blood, found some but not enough to be alarming. Felt EXTREMELY dazed, but by God’s grace immediately started thinking about what had to be done.
2) Heard the engine sort of screeching (fan was pushed up to the hood), and turned it off.
3) Noticed smoke in the air and a strong, acrid smell. Suspected dangerous leakage or some such thing, and tried to open the door.
4) Door wouldn’t open, tried to roll down window. Window wouldn’t roll. “Aha” moment, turned the ignition a bit for some electricity, rolled down the window.
5) Two thoughts: I have to call my dad. I have to get OUT of the truck. For some reason getting out was extremely important to me at that moment. Probably because of the smell; I didn’t know what I was breathing. Found out later it was the gunpowder that explodes the bags out at a speed of 200 mph. Hence, airbag injuries.
6) Started feeling around for things: phone, backpack, anything. Not sure what I touched but the horn started a continuous beep. Also, must have hit the tape that was sitting in the player, because it went in and I heard the opening of the Fiddler on the Roof music, which was the soundtrack to the rest of my time in the truck. So bizarre!!
7) Backpack had been on the passenger seat and was no longer; pulled it up from the floor, dug around for my phone. I remember doing this in a rather frantic state. Phone not there. Remembered it had been in the cup holder, where I always put it. Not there now. Great, who knows where it could have bounced to.
8–Held onto the wheel with one hand, leaned way down to reach the passenger side floor, felt the phone with the edge of my finger and, of course, nudged it just out of reach. Got out of my seat, climbed down into that side , stood on the passenger door and felt around on the floor. Phone! Was dazed enough that I pressed the speed dial for my sister first, then clear, then the one for Dad.
9) Called Dad. The call no dad ever wants to get. “I was in an accident here on Bald Eagle, I’m right around the corner. I think I’m fine. I hit a telephone pole, the car’s on its side . . . ” “Ok, I’m coming!!”
10) Put phone in pants pocket. Climbed back up to my seat, grabbed the backpack, stood up through the window, saw big ditch between me and the road, and lobbed the backpack to the street. Climbed out the window, crawled along the edge of the hood, and again, being dazed, tried to climb down first using the tire as a step; it of course turned under my foot. Ok, bad idea. Got back up onto the hood. Hugged the pole to help me stand up, not realizing it was broken and could fall. Another bad idea! Then jumped to the road.
At that point my dad was there within 30 seconds. As soon as I saw his lights I put my arm up so that he would see that I was aware and immediately responsive. He put his hands on my shoulders and looked at my face and eyes, and put me in the car. Walking into the house I called out “Mom, don’t be scared.”
In the next few hours I was comforted and cared for by my wonderful mom, examined by a great EMT and two fire-people, and sparsely questioned by a female sheriff. It was soon established with relative certainty that there were no other injuries save those inflicted by those precious airbags. It looks like they may have saved my life, or at least my head.
A week later, my face is almost entirely healed, I’ve ridden in a car quite a bit, and driven once. Being on the road now makes me a bit nervous, and I reckon it will be a while before that wears off. Being alone in the dark now makes me a bit nervous, and I reckon that is because of those few minutes immediately after the crash. Still, I have learned, and am learning, a lot through this. I will definitely be far more willing to just go ahead and sleep somewhere instead of driving home late, even if I “don’t feel that tired.” I will definitely be an even more careful driver in general, just in case 🙂 I will definitely think seven or eight times before riding with someone who is tired.
But this is the most important thing of which I have been reminded:
When I’m nervous in the car or in the dark, I remember that the God who was with me in the car when I crashed is the same God who is with me now. Isn’t it interesting; for an unbeliever, that would be the exact opposite of an encouraging thought. But because I know my God, it is the most uplifting thought possible. Being a child of God does not guarantee constant physical safety or comfort, but it does guarantee absolute confidence in His plan for the child who trusts Him. I do NOT feel less nervous because I know my God is the God who protected me in the recent crash. I feel less nervous, because I know that my God is God. That is the only way I know how to put it.
Many thanks to all of you who have prayed so faithfully for me this week. I have healed remarkably fast (Paul Kay called me “Wolverine”–love that!), because the abrasions were so shallow. We now ask your prayers for our vehicle situation; as I had been hoping to buy a car soon anyway, we now need two. God has already possibly provided another pair of glasses, and I know He will handle our transportation problem.
God is good. Again, not because he protected me, but because He is God!