Six days ago today, four of the kids and I were in a car accident.
After dropping Leila off at drama camp, we ran an errand and headed home. I'm not going to talk about the cause of the accident because I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say while insurance is sorting everything out, so I'll just skip that part.
The front passenger side on our car collided with the front driver side of the other car. I don't remember getting hit. I don't remember the impact, or the air bags deploying. None of my kids do, either, and I feel like that's a gift from God. The first thing I remember is realizing that an accident had happened and hearing the girls asking me what had just happened. I remember smoke coming from the steering column. I turned around, told them that we'd been in an accident, and asked the girls if they were okay. Some of them were crying, but they all said yes. I asked if Abel was okay (I couldn't see him because his seat is rear-facing) and they said yes. Then I looked through Abel's window at the driver of the other car and could see her moving. No major injuries. Another gift from God.
I was in a HUGE state of shock, and didn't even realize it, but I got through the next hour. I probably seemed pretty emotionless. The kids and I got out of the car. That's when I realized that my glasses had been knocked off by the airbag, and that I had a burn on my wrist from the airbag. I also had a bloody toe, and bruises from the steering wheel and seat belt, but I didn't realize those things until later. Several people stopped to help. A man helped me get the kids from the street to the sidewalk. The kids and I sat close together and waited for the emergency responders. I don't remember saying much except comforting words to the kids. That's when I got my first look at the cars. Both front ends were smashed in. Fluids were pouring onto the ground. Pieces of both cars had flown for several feet in every direction. The windshield was smashed.
I called Tony to tell him. He says I sounded so calm that he thought I was joking. He asked if I wanted him to come. In my shock, I said he could come if he wanted to. That makes me smile now -- of course I needed him! What was my plan for getting home? What I didn't realize is that he had ridden his bike to work, so he hopped on his bike to come to us, but we still didn't have a way to get home. God was taking care of it, though.
After that, there was a whirlwind of firemen, police officers, and paramedics. The kind man who helped me to the sidewalk stayed with me until Tony got there, and then disappeared without saying goodbye. A complete stranger hopped out of her car at the stoplight and gave me a box of graham crackers for the kids. (This. This makes me cry even now. What a kind gesture in such a chaotic time!) The firemen and police officers gave stickers to the kids, and took turns holding Abel while I filled out the accident report and went back to the van to get our important stuff out. (That's also when I realized that my unopened soda had exploded on impact. The hit must have been pretty huge.)
I'm not leaving the driver of the other car out of this story intentionally. She and I just didn't interact with each other. She was sitting in a different spot, had different people taking care of her, had her own paperwork to fill out. I know that she wasn't majorly injured, but that's about all I know. I'll find out more as insurance gets processed. I've been praying for her and her family (who came after the accident) since that day.
About this time, I was wondering where Tony was, because I didn't realize he was on his bike. He wasn't answering his phone (because it was in his backpack). I finally called my sister Becky and asked her to come be with us. God is so good. She was only 5 minutes away, and was driving a car that would fit all of us so that we could go home. She and Tony arrived at almost exactly the same time. She took the kids and I home and Tony stayed while the minivan got loaded onto the tow truck, then came home for the rest of the day to be with us.
Once we got home, I fell apart. I alternated between crying and sitting silently for the next few hours. The accident could have been so much worse. The "what if's" were paralyzing. Tony stayed with me, except when he picked up Leila from drama camp and explained to her what had happened. Becky brought dinner. My parents came, because that's what parents do! Most of the kids are too young to really understand, but Hadley had a hard time. She cried a lot. She processed it out loud. She drew pictures. After a good night of sleep, though, she felt better. And slowly, I started to unwind, too. I didn't feel okay all at once, and I really don't even feel totally okay today. Driving still makes me really anxious.
Here's my challenge to you: next time you find that somebody is going through something that you consider "minor", consider that it might not be "minor" to them. Something that everybody else calls minor (my accident is classified as minor by the police and insurance) can affect a person deeply and for a long time. My prayer is that God uses this to make me more understanding and helpful to other people in "minor" life situations as well. He's been teaching me a lot lately.