Thursday, August 19, 2010

Almost

It sounds goofy to say out loud or in print.  But there's really nothing funny about it.

I almost died last night. 

Sometimes people say that to be dramatic.  As an exaggeration.  But I say it only to be accurate.

We spent a fun day yesterday at the local theme park with Bryan's family.  They're out here dropping off his little sister who's starting school out here at the end of the month.  We stayed up at the park all day and, despite only getting one 45 minute nap, Olivia was so good.  She was happy and laughing and chill the entire time.  Bryan's dad doesn't do rides anymore, so he volunteered to watch Olivia while Bryan and I enjoyed some.  By the end of the day Olivia had Bryan's dad just wrapped around her little finger.  (Not to mention her Nana and the doting line of aunties and uncles there to entertain her every whim.)  When we were getting ready to go Olivia was starting to get a little fussy, so we stopped passing her around between aunts and uncles and grandparents and I was just holding her.  But for the first time that Bryan or I can remember she didn't want me.  Nope, she just wanted her grandpa.  We don't think he fully appreciates the high compliment he received. 

Well, Olivia had been amazingly good all day, but her regular bed time is at 8:30pm and around 8:00pm she finally started to lose it.  So we said goodbye to the gang and headed back home.  The sun was just setting as we headed out.  It was a beautiful, memorable sunset.  It looked like something fake you'd see in the movies; you could actually see rays of sun bursting out.  Olivia cried for a little bit, and then fell asleep.  Bryan and I were just talking, heading home. 

Then, all of a sudden, Bryan started to slow down as quickly and carefully as he could.  The cars ahead of him were significantly slowing down for traffic.  NO.  They weren't slowing down.  It wasn't traffic.  Those cars were SWERVING.  Everywhere.  All at once.  That was when we saw it.  A white car.  No headlights.  Coming right at us.

It's hard to explain, but everything sort of stopped for a moment.  My mind froze.  Perhaps it was preparing for the worst.  It had seen what was coming and knew it would be shutting down soon.  Fading out.  If I had been driving I don't think I would have had the sense to do what Bryan did.  I think I would have just stayed frozen.  I'm so, so glad Bryan was driving.

Things didn't stop in his brain.  First he swerved hard and fast to the left, felt that he was starting to lose control of the car, and then corrected it by swerving just as hard and fast to the right. 

Then it was over.  The car had passed.  We were all okay.

Olivia woke up in the back seat and started crying.  We told her it was all okay now.  I kept looking in the rear view mirror, trying to see what was going on behind us.  Hoping and praying with all my heart that we wouldn't see signs of a huge accident.  But the night was black and I couldn't see anything except a sea of headlights.  I called 911 right away, but when I told them where we were the dispatcher asked if I was calling to report a car driving the wrong way.  I said, "Yes," and she quickly ended the conversation, telling me it had already been reported and they had already sent help.

A moment later we saw cop cars.  At least half a dozen cop cars spaced a few minutes apart, lights and sirens on, driving on the other side of the freeway toward that car.  I kept hoping and praying there wasn't a fatality behind us.  But with that many cop cars passing us that soon it seemed almost certain there had to have been an accident.

We spent the rest of the drive home afraid another car was going to come at us at any moment.  I can only compare that feeling of helpless panic to the way I felt on and just after September 11, 2001.  This terrible, horrible, deathly frightening thing just happened.  And it could happen again.  And I won't know when and I won't know where.  God, protect me.

I felt a great sense of relief when we finally got off the freeway.  When we got home we checked the news right away.  In the traffic section there was a note of the fact that an accident had occurred, but no information about it.  It was just in the list of traffic delays for others to avoid.  It seemed so cold to see it that way.  To us, it could have been our lives.  But to the news at that moment and to others it was nothing but a traffic delay.  Bryan and I were in a car accident last year.  It wasn't serious and nobody was hurt, but it still ruined the vacation we were headed out on and cost us a lot of money.  Every time since then that we've seen or heard of an accident we've felt differently about it.  We both think, "Somebody is having a terrible day."  And I always say a little prayer in my heart that nobody was hurt and that it will be okay.  It seems like the traffic updates ought to at least report it a little differently.  "Someone is having a terrible day at such and such a place.  So it means you might be late to your job interview, but you can at least be glad you're all right."  Or, "Somebody just died here.  Now a lot of people are having an unimaginably hard day.  And while the slow traffic you'll experience will soon be a thing of the past, their families will never forget what happened today."

This morning when I checked the news again it had a five minute blurb on what happened.  Apparently the person driving the wrong way was a woman who they think was under the influence of prescription medication.  And we were right that there was an accident, but I was relieved to find out that all she had hit was a highway patrol car and that the officer driving it seems to be okay.  The bit on the news said that the officer was able to walk onto the ambulance himself and seems to be all right.  And that the woman was treated for a few bumps and bruises and was then taken into custody.  (I do like to give credit to my sources, so if you're interested you can watch the clip and/or read the article HERE.)

A little while after we got home last night, just before we went to bed, I finally cried about it.  In fact, I sobbed.  You try not to, but you really can't help thinking of all the terrible things that could have happened.  Especially, I kept thinking that I could have died or that Bryan and I both could have died.  We were sitting in the front seats.  It would have hit us head-on, and at the high, freeway speeds we were going, we really both could have died.  Olivia could have been orphaned last night.  That thought kept rolling over and over in my head until finally it all came out in sobs.

Bryan told me that he knew it wasn't just him driving our car.  I knew what he meant.  He had had divine help.  So I know it's true when I say that I could have died last night.  But I also know that Heavenly Father didn't want for that to happen.  He still wants me here.  He still wants us together here.  And when I know that, then I know that Heavenly Father still has work for me to do here.  Maybe not anything big by the world's standards.  Perhaps its just doing what I've already been doing.  Taking care of my family.  Spending time with them.  Loving them and being loved by them.  Spending my days with Bryan and Olivia.  Serving in my calling at church.  Getting to know my neighbors.  Taking care of my body.  Studying the scriptures every morning so I can try and know better what He wants me to do.  Just one of these things might be little.  But all of these things together is what I know I've been sent here to do. 

I feel so blessed to be here.  And to keep on doing just that. 

13 comments:

SteffiD said...

That's so terrifying. I'm so glad that you and your family are alright, and that it seems nobody was seriously hurt in the accident. God is amazing, and knows exactly how He wants things to go.

Richard and Emily said...

Wow, Katie. This made me cry. I'm so grateful you are all ok and that Heavenly Father was watching over you and protecting you and Bryan and Olivia. I can't imagine how you must have felt. I know I still start to feel sick to my stomach when I think about the car accident I was in a year ok. I can't imagine anything much scarier than what you guys went through last night.

But I'm glad you wrote about it. And as usual, it was written beautifully. I love your faith and your understanding of the Lord's plan for you.

I'm so, so glad you're all ok!

CK said...

Wow, that is an incredible experience. I am glad you guys are all right. I have never seen a car driving the wrong way on the freeway but I imagine it must be terrifying.

Lisa Lou said...

I don't even know what to say. I'm so grateful and relieved that you are all ok. I don't even want to imagine how that phone call would have been... I love you so much and I'm really happy you wrote "uncleS" :)

love, lisa

Monica said...

Your post made me cry too. I have had a scary situation one time when a tractor trailer's back tire came off the rig and started bouncing on the high way. Thankfully it was at night, so there weren't that many cars around. It was on a large overpass bridge and it bounced off the bridge and into the grass on the side of the road under the bridge. But while it was bouncing I was scared of where it would go next. It would have crushed us. God was also with us at the time. Thank you for your post!! I am glad that all are well!

The Jessee Journal said...

Life seems very fragile indeed this week. I'm glad you guys were ok. I can honestly say an angel would have had to yank that steering wheel around for me to have made it out of something like that ok. I have a tendency to freeze and freak out. What a miracle ... and a reminder.

meaningfulmothering said...

Katie, I am s glad your family is okay!

Kathy Haynie said...

I read your post this morning, and I have been thinking about it all day. I think each day is more precious than we can even imagine. Experiences like this put our lives in a truer perspective. I love you and your family so much, Katie, and I am so so so so grateful for Bryan's careful care of you all.

I have often thought, this summer, on difficult days, how badly I feel for those who are having an even worse day than what I am experiencing. Your thoughtful writing is a good reminder of the compassion I need to always remember.

No one is just a statistic. Give your family a hug for me!

Allen and Cameo said...

WOW! I can't imagine having something like that happen on the freeway. About a week ago we witnessed a car crash and for a second it felt like we were going to be a part of it. I also called 911. It is scary to see or witness anything like that. I love your strength and your faith. You are amazing!

Polly said...

Yeah, almost anytime I see a cop pulling someone over, especially if that person looks like they're in a lot of trouble, etc I always think that someone is having a bad day.

I am SOOOOO glad you guys are okay!

Stephanie said...

Oh Katie, I am so glad you guys are safe! What a horrifying experience. I am so grateful you guys weren't the car that was hit.

Kendra Last-Bookartist said...

So grateful that everything is ok. We love your family so much and I know that you are here for a reason. Love and hugs to you all! What a loving Father in Heaven we have!

Jess said...

Oh my gosh! somehow I missed this post-I'm glad you were ok! Weird thing though-we were right behind you when that happened! At least, a minute or two. When we drove out for my sister's wedding open house, we came up on the aftermath of the white car and police office crash, right after it happened! We saw the lady try and run away from the cops. My goodness. What a crazy thing! Glad no one was hurt-close calls always leave you shaking, huh?