Not many people whom I know today know this about me, but I was involved in a pretty serious car crash 14 years ago. It happened just 2 minutes away from my home. My 2 eldest children who were with me in the car at the time were just under the ages of 2 years and 2 months. That was a life changing day for me.
It was just an average day like any other day in the life of a fairly new mom of a toddler and infant. Babies were crying and fussy so I packed them up in my car and we went for a drive to do just 2 errands. One was to the ATM and the other to drop off some letters at the local post office. Neither required getting out of the car so I knew the kids would probably fall asleep. I was right, and thank goodness they did. Almost immediately.
But it wasn't much longer than 2 minutes of humming to the Wiggles, noticing both kids were conked out and that I had left my cell phone at home, that my life forever changed. I never leave my cell phone at home, but I decided not to go back home because 1) the kids were finally sleeping and quiet and 2) I was only going to be gone for those 2 quick errands. Little did I know a higher spirit, something beyond my comprehension of the consequences of my decisions that day, had other plans for us.
So as I was driving along at about 50 mph down this fairly major road on the very right hand lane (the road was 2 lanes each direction), all of a sudden I see a small Mercedes sedan in front and to the right of me coming out of the side street going for it to make a left hand turn across 4 lanes of traffic. She was accelerating right into my pathway. I hit my brakes as hard as I could and after that it all became a blur. You know the saying 'ever seen your life flash before your eyes'? I experienced that at that very moment. I thought to myself that's it. Me and my babies are done. Game over. Life is over. I was forced to accept my fate.
When I realized we had T-boned this car and somehow ended up on the opposite side of this road onto the sidewalk, 4 lanes across, 2 of which included oncoming traffic, and that I was alive, my adrenaline kicked in. I ran out of my smashed up, smoky vehicle and over to the back seat screaming at the top of my lungs "Help me get my babies out of the car!" By that time neighborhood folks had come out to the scene of the accident. I am so grateful to those people who helped me by holding my worried toddler's hand and carrying my crying baby while making me sit down and asking me if I was hurt anywhere before the fire department and paramedics got there. Someone even thought to take my double stroller out of my totaled Jeep Cherokee so that it wouldn't get lost in the junkyard my car was going to end up at. And because this was the one time I didn't have my cell phone, someone handed me theirs so I could call my husband. And wouldn't you know it? This was the one time my husband didn't answer because his battery had drained earlier in the day.
After spending countless hours at the hospital with a scared toddler and a screaming baby, and numerous calls to my husband to no avail, I remembered a friend's number whom I had gotten closer with recently then. We had done several play dates. She came to my rescue that day. She was my angel that day, along with all the helpful neighbors and rescue team.
That day I walked away with my babies both unharmed (the doctors said it was good they were asleep), and I had minor injuries to my knee and neck. Nothing that a neck brace, physical therapy and chiropractic care couldn't take care of.
The funny thing about us is that we don't always realize that there are more than just one way or sometimes even multiple ways to look at something. I could've easily fallen into the victim category and thought how could this horrible thing happen to me? But instead, I felt nothing but gratitude to be alive, and for all 3 of us to be as unharmed as we were. I also saw firsthand how quickly your life could be taken away from you. That experience allowed me to be the person I am today. To live with purpose and passion each and every day. It's truly enlightening. And the cool thing is... everyone can do it. You just have to want it bad enough.