Monday, November 09, 2009
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Today is an anniversary of sorts. Twelve years ago today, I was in a major two-vehicle accident. I was twenty-two years old. Around 6 PM, I was in my (beautiful) 1987 Buick LeSabre, on my way back home from my field work church after worship and an afternoon of every-member visitation. I turned onto Townline Road in Wheatfield (I believe). That's all I remember. I don't remember driving down Townline. I don't remember coming up to another intersection. I don't remember being broadsided by a pick-up truck. I have brief flashes of being in the ambulance and humming hymns and praying. (It's good to know what you fall back on in times of greatest need.) I remember seeing my parents as I was wheeled into the ER, and I definitely remember puking on the shoes of the doctor who was about to run some sort of scan.
I was told that I ran a stop sign. I don't remember that happening, and I can't imagine that I would run a stop sign on a road I traveled constantly, but that's what the police report and the newspaper article said. Every so often I will get a flash of what might have happened, but I don't know if those are memories or if they are constructs of a mind that spends too much time trying to figure out every damn mistake I've ever made and how I might have avoided it if I'd been smarter, cleverer, less clumsy, whatever. The images I see in my mind are of my car and the other vehicle, but since I didn't have those images in my mind until after I saw the pictures my father took of the vehicles after the accident, there's no guarantee that what I see is a true image.
No one in the truck was seriously injured, and neither was I. I had cuts from the windshield glass breaking. I had major bruising on my torso from the seat belt. I had a bump on the right side of my head, possibly from hitting the steering wheel, which was so big that we couldn't see my right ear. My mother couldn't look at me without crying (though many women had that kind of reaction to me at that point, I think), so we never did get any pictures of my face. But I was fine after about a week.
As I've said before, my life changed after that accident. My grades in seminary to that point had been, at best, average, and that year had been so miserable that I'd considered dropping out altogether. The accident sharpened my focus and priorities. That's not to say I became a model student, but I cared more after that about academics and less about what happened at the ping pong table. I still slide back from time to time, but I'm not as . . . I can't say "wild" because I've never been wild--I'm too inhibited for that--but maybe I'm less distracted than I was. I didn't lose my naivety--that came later in Ohio--but I think I finally became an adult.
I was also pointedly reminded of the goodness of God that day. Though this was a high speed collision, nobody was seriously injured. My car was totaled, but I didn't have a passenger in my car as I had for much of the day. A passenger would almost certainly have been killed on impact. So much of what happened could have been so much worse, and it is only by the grace of God that it wasn't worse. I usually don't make a big deal about guardian angels, since people like Oprah tend to hijack the concept and make everyone who does a good deed an angel. But I can't deny that God set mine to watch over me, and I cannot deny the diligence of that heavenly being on that day. God is good.
Anyway, here are the pictures. Above is the picture of the outside of my car. She was nearly spotless before the accident. Beautiful car, a joy to drive. I still miss her.
This is the view from the window on the passenger side of my car, looking at the driver side. It doesn't look too bad, really, all things considered. It probably wasn't very hard to remove me from the car after the accident, as my legs came through with only minor cuts and abrasions, and the door doesn't even look like it was hard to open.
This is the view from the window on the driver side of my car, looking at the passenger side. Note how much of the passenger seat is showing. Any passenger would almost certainly have had crushed legs; likely, any passenger would have been killed on impact. I thank God constantly that the accident didn't happen an hour earlier when I had a passenger with me.
And this is the other vehicle.