Maybe’s it’s because I was in a really bad car accident that I have a terrible memory. I had to ask my dad and my own human memory goddess HS to help me remember: was it Christmas? was it Thanksgiving? Was it freshman or sophomore year?
It was the Friday before Thanksgiving my sophomore year. And once I remember, I remember everything.
I was riding in the backseat of my friend’s car. We were three hours into a four hour drive. I was dozing, my head on my Nike duffel bag, full of dirty laundry, and my backpack was on the floor, full of homework I intended to do over Thanksgiving break. It was raining and we were thankful the roads weren’t very crowded. It was getting dark, a typical November day in the Northwest.
I remember we were in the fast lane. And the windshield fogged up. So we couldn’t see. Nothing. My friend slowed to a stop, trying to hug the median. And then we were hit. Again and again and again. Seven times the car bounced forward like a really bad amusement park ride, and we were flung forward in our seats, again and again and again. Thank goodness we were all wearing seat belts.
Someone came to help us get out of the car. I wasn’t visibly hurt. My friend, the driver, was bleeding from a cut on her head. My other friend, who had been riding in the passenger seat, had neck pain. Miraculously, nobody died. Miraculously, we were all walking after being hit seven times from behind, a cascading, ginormous, horrific accident.
The man driving the car that hit us first had a cell phone, which he used to call 911. Then he let us call our parents. My dad instructed me to tell the ambulance driver to take us to his hospital, where he knew the ER doctors.
We sat on the side of the road, waiting for the ambulance. There was a traffic jam longer than the eye could see behind us. It was eerily quiet in front of the car. Cops arrived and started getting statements. Insurance information was exchanged. And finally an ambulance arrived and we were close enough to Portland that they were willing to take us to our preferred hospital. I rode in the passenger seat of the ambulance and talked. A lot. I’m sure I was in shock.
At the hospital my friends were taken care of and I told everyone I was fine. And I really thought I was. My dad came to get me and I made it to the end of my sister’s senior class dedication ceremony. Our car accident was the talk if the reception, since multiple other older siblings had been traveling that same road from our college and had been stuck in the hour long traffic jam the accident had caused.
To this day, whenever I drive on that stretch of highway, I get nervous, especially when it’s raining or dark. I also get really nervous when I’m driving in the left lane and have to make a left turn, with cars streaming by me on the right. I also have a terrible muscle spasm on the right side of my neck that causes terrible migraines. My doctor says the car accident, 14 years ago, is likely the cause.
I guess the point of all of this is that I am thankful to be alive. When I saw pictures of the car, I was shocked. I had been sitting in the back seat and the back of the car was completely smashed. The car was totaled. And I was alive.