I’ll never forget the sounds of metal crashing into metal; glass breaking; unidentifiable structures crunching. I’ll never forget the feeling of completely losing control; of my vehicle being hurdled toward and then ricocheting off a guardrail; flipping and tumbling through the air; somehow landing right-side-up in a thorny ditch. I’ll never forget the impossible weight of my car door that day and somehow being able to push myself out of it —my vision so obscured, not knowing whether I was exiting to land or water.
It was land. Bramble-covered land. Somehow my phone and purse were easily accessible and intact. I called 9–1–1. So did an elderly couple who were driving behind me and witnessed the whole event. They yelled down from the top of the ditch that they’d stay until the ambulance arrived. And they did. When the EMTs and medics arrived I saw them slowly walk away before I could learn their names — before I could say “thank you”. This became a pattern in the hours ahead: each person that helped me quickly appeared, assisted, and then disappeared before I could say anything. I would have to shout out to the next person I was passed on to, “can you please tell them I say ‘thank you?’” I don’t know if they did. Many people helped me that day. Many people I will never have the chance to properly thank.
The EMTs, the medics, the doctors, the Sheriff — every person who saw what my car looked like that day — have no idea how I was able to walk out of that car virtually unharmed. I was lucky to be alive. I should have been dead. One more roll of my car, and I probably would have been.
I have no idea why I made it out alive. (Thank god I was the only one in the car, and the only car involved in the accident). I made a stupid decision to take too sharp of a turn on a wet road that happened to be littered with just enough gravel for my car to lose its traction, and, yet, I was able to walk away.
The hours that followed were a blur. My boyfriend met me at the hospital. There they ran tests, took x-rays, and ultrasounds. Everything confirmed that I was okay. No broken bones. No harmed organs or internal bleeding. Just bruises and scratches and a general state of shock. I was cleared to go home, and, after a poorly reheated breakfast sandwich and coffee from the hospital cafe, my boyfriend took me home. I was still finding pieces of glass — in my pockets, in my hair, in my mouth, along with bits of salad that I had prepared for the brunch I was on my way to. I took a long hot shower and sobbed into the water, still in disbelief of everything that had happened.
What followed were a thousand calls to and from my insurance company, a towing company, a rental car company, interspersed with calls to my parents and my brother, which kept getting interrupted. Eventually, I got everything settled. I talked to my family. I picked up my rental car that my insurance company was paying for, and I got myself ready for a very important evening.
I could have easily stayed home, curled up into a ball, crying, but this weekend had a purpose. My dear instructors, mentors, and friends that had inspired me to follow my dream to become a butcher were all convening in town for the weekend, and I was expected to be there for the kickoff dinner. I needed to be there. I needed to be able to tell them, “thank you”.
Due to what some may call a miracle, I was able to be there that weekend. I was able to hug them. I was able to learn from them. I was able to dine and laugh with them. I was able to say, “thank you.” It was in that car crash that I more fully understood that we don’t always get that opportunity — to thank the people that float in and out of our lives: the people that inspire us, the people that change us, the people that save us, the people that pull us out of the wreckage to bring us to a more beautiful place.