It is 9:46 am and I’m struggling to get an old black t-shirt off. I’m waiting for the LED light to fire up in the cold basement bathroom of my parents. As I wonder over my still shaken self, I have a swollen jaw, faint bruises around my neck, shoulders and chest. An inflamed red strip covers my front side—the ER nurse said that was to be expected. I’m angry inside and I don’t look like myself on the outside. I’m emotional with temporarily permanent wet eyes.
At 75 mph at 1:11am, I left Michael a 15 second voicemail wishing him good sleep and letting him know I would talk to him in the morning, and that I was almost home. At 1:12am, I tap my breaks to release the cruise and instinctively veer to the right. No one is around but soon I find myself without control of my SUV facing two semis headed directly towards me. The deer must have finally made its way over the Interstate. As I fishtail backwards I try to remember everything I’ve been taught for situations like this. However, the sensitivity to maneuvering a machine traveling just less than 75 mph isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Within moments I find myself drifting back into the ditch at about 50 mph.
The next few moments are less adrenaline-filled than the previous ones and more so dark and heartbreaking. As my SUV begins its one and only full rotation, it is loud and disturbing. The first slam into the ground scares me into believing my life here on earth is over and that I was going to miss a lot of people and miss out on enjoying a lot of places. The next slam into the ground positioned myself perfectly upside down. I vaguely remember having a slight attitude change as I noticed my seatbelt kept me securely fastened upside down—exactly like a rollercoaster. The third slam, which took place on my side of the vehicle, encouraged me to lose all hope of living—while imaging blood everywhere, cracked glass, and a broken neck. It sounds cliché but I thought it was over–when you have no control, that’s all you can really see. The final upright slam got me thinking about how much I would miss Michael and how happy I was he wasn’t there—he was safely tucked in bed at home. But at this point in time I realize, I’ve alive. My 1997 Toyota 4Runner has a caved in roof, which I slammed my head into, broken mirrors, minor side dents, and now earns the title of saving my life. Bracing myself during the impact had the most damage.
I’ve received over 50 personal messages today via facebook, twitter, email, phone calls and texts, plus an adorable voicemail from my 8 year old nephew saying how sorry he was that all this happened but how happy he was his aunt is still alive. I received a confirming text from my stepfather explaining how sorry he was to hear the news but how it sounded like I did a great job handling the situation. I’ve received ample support from the closest ones in my life and the dogs have done a superior job of napping by my side.
There are so many things here on earth that we get the chance to experience, good and bad. My experience in the beginning hours of this morning was something I never expected and something I really wasn’t prepared for. But the people that I love have encouraged and supported the strength I know I need for this recovery, physically and mentally. Nothing last forever, not even me. It’s a scary world out there but it could all be taken in the next few moments and now, more than ever, I’m reminded to keep living, keep moving, loving and doing. I may blame myself for this horrific accident but I also tell myself, it happened to me because I have the strength to overcome it and learn from it.
“You’re more than lucky to be alive, kid. Most don’t walk away from Interstate roll-over accidents. So, calm down. It’s over, you’re here, shocking, isn’t it?” -The State Patrolman first on the scene trying his best to get me out of shock.
Feature photo: me, at GPRMC in North Platte, Neb.