To The Stranger I Will Never Forget

Dear Stranger,

That’s all you were. Another stranger driving along the same freeway as I. At least, that’s what you were.

I saw on the police report that you were twice my age and I wondered, was this your first car accident too?

I saw the ages of your two passengers and I wondered, are they your children? I didn’t have my youngest two children with me that day. I thank God every day for creating the steps that led me to leaving them home with a sitter, an extremely rare event and likely the very thing that saved their lives.

That day it was only my mother in law, my husband, and myself in the car you hit. We watched as your family was discharged from the hospital within the hour of arriving, walking out the door laughing and cheerful and I wondered, did you really think we acquired no loss?

I remember every millisecond of our accident. I remember it every time I close my eyes. Every time I try to sleep. Every time I turn a corner. Every time I startle easily. Every time I see a freeway on tv. Every time I white knuckle the steering wheel when another driver is in sight. Every time.

I wonder if you suffer the same ailments, or if your claims of not seeing us wiped your conscious free. I wonder how you didn’t see us. You had three quarters of our lane taken up before our vehicles ever came in contact with each other. I wonder what you were doing. Were you talking to your passenger, your head turned oblivious to what was right outside your drivers window? Were you changing the radio station, unknowingly swerving into our lane? Were you on your phone, conversing with someone who obviously was far more important than the GIANT RED SUV that was inches away from your window? I wonder, how could you possibly have NOT seen us? We weren’t in your blind spot. I gave you over three quarters of my lane to notice us and move back over. You hit the BACK passenger side of our car. How, how could you have possibly not saw?

That’s what the police report says, that you simply did not properly use lanes. That you were not distracted. That I claimed to have stated that I swerved from my lane, our cars hit, and I slammed on the brakes causing my vehicle to roll.

FALSE. But, there goes the documentation on that.

I was too busy listening to the screeching tires ripping from side to side of the freeway as I desperately tried to correct the fishtail you sent us into, to see where you had went. We swerved from the edge of one side of the freeway to the edge of the other side three times before we started to roll. That moment. The moment that I knew we were rolling. It went by so fast that my life didn’t even flash before my eyes. Yet, it was the longest moment of my entire life. In that moment, only one thought screamed through my mind as “Oh God!” screamed out of my mouth. I thought,”this is it, this is how I die, this day, this accident… and I was driving.”

The LAST thought I had was that I was the DRIVER that couldn’t get us out of the accident that stole my children’s mother, my children’s father, my children’s grandmother and I wonder, did that thought ever go through YOUR head?

I suffered that immense guilt for days, for weeks. Possibly for months and for years. I wonder, do you ever feel guilty?

The sound of the rolling is something I will never stop hearing. It is the loudest, most indescribable sound of crumpling metal and shattering glass one can ever attempt to imagine. The sound surrounds you just as the metal and glass encloses in on you. Deafening.

We finally stopped rolling. As I blinked the shattered glass and debris from my eyes and heard the sounds of my husband and mother in law, I was in shock to still be alive. I remained in shock for days after the accident. So much in shock that as I repeatedly stated that I was okay, I didn’t realize that what I should have been saying was that I was alive.

I was not okay. I was not okay by any means. For days I couldn’t hear out of my right ear. The pain and ringing in that ear, my entire right side of my head and neck left me unable to function for weeks. I was so entirely in shock that as I begged for Tylenol for my throbbing head, hardly unable to keep my eyes open, it never occurred to me that the doctors were overlooking extremely obvious signs of head trauma. Due to it being on my right side and that I was driving, I couldn’t fathom how I could have hit my head on anything.

So that’s what the hospital report states. No headache. Victim was not hit in head.

FALSE. But, there goes the documentation on that.

Three days later the pain was so severe. I could hardly see. I hadn’t eaten. Barely slept. I was constantly nauseous, dizzy, forgetful, in a fog. I knew that something was wrong and I went into the ER again. This time I was a little better at being able to put words to what my body was feeling, although I still couldn’t imagine how I could have hit my head. Acute concussion, I must have gotten shook up a little bit, it should clear in a few days to a week, two at the most.

So that’s what the hospital report states. Acute concussion. Victim was not hit in the head.

FALSE. But, there goes the documentation on that.

Days later I was finally able to retrieve our belongings from our car. It cost me $75 in towing fees to get my own stuff out of my own car that you ruined. But when I did, THAT is when it hit me… what hit me,that is. Your ‘opps I didn’t see them’ impacted our SUV so hard that it nearly ripped the back tail gate off. It completely tore off an entire tire and shredded two more. It tore the gas cover and lid off. It was so forceful that it ripped open our LOCKED mini-trunk in the back that held a good portion of my husbands expensive tools, ripped open our LOCKED glove box causing important documents to scatter all over unknown parts of the freeway, and it not only ripped open our LOCKED center counsel, but the impact YOU caused was so forceful that it tore the ATTACHED center counsel lose which was flying around the front of the car and is what slammed me upside the head forcefully enough to cause me to lose hearing for days, have muscle spasms in my neck, and a concussion that all STILL show symptoms over three weeks later.

But, all the documentation says I wasn’t hit in the head. I didn’t have a headache. It says you really didn’t see us. It says that it was just improper use of lanes.

FALSE.

Oh, and how you let ME feel sorry for you. You probably don’t know, but before I even knew if we were all okay, I asked about you. Of course, in my shocked and unknowingly  brain malfunctioning way, it came out as; where’s the other car? The orange car? As I panickly looked for you. I was told you were okay. You guys just took a little drive through the woods. I was told that you got out of your car crying, “I’m sooo sorry, I didn’t see them!” I wonder though, were you just as sorry when you found out we lived? Were you just as sorry when you found out you weren’t being hauled off to jail for vehicular manslaughter? Were you just as sorry when the police handed you a ticket for “improper lane usage” and you walked out of the hospital with YOUR family laughing?

Over three weeks later and I still haven’t “walked” out of that hospital laughing with MY family!

I have walked into and out of many doctors though, so has my husband, and my mother in law. My mother in law suffered such severe bruising to her chest bone that doctors told her it is highly likely that it will never heal. That every time she has a cold or uses those muscles more than light duty that it will cause her great pain. My husband, he played things off better than I could. It was weeks before he went in to a doctor due to a severe headache. Naturally, this would be of no concern. But my husband, he literally never gets a headache and a rather recent diagnosis of Leukemia causes a slightly higher degree of concern over his health. It wasn’t until then that I found out he had neck pain since the accident. A muscle spasm which was likely causing the headache.

Since “meeting” you, just another stranger who happened to be traveling the same freeway as me, I have been diagnosed with an acute concussion, neck muscle spasms, dangerously high blood pressure, and post traumatic stress disorder.

I am not even thirty two years old yet. I am HALF your age and am now on blood pressure pills for the rest of my life. I wonder, are you on blood pressure pills? Do they dry your mouth out like they do mine? Do they make you feel like your intestines are being ripped apart? Did you have to stop eating some of your favorite meals? Did you have to start reading every fucking food label of every fucking thing you think about eating to decide what you might want? Did you have to carry around a pen and paper every fucking place with you and record every fucking bite you take because you can’t consume sodium anymore, and your short term memory is still shot from a concussion so it’s fruitless to try to remember even a single bite you took without recording it?

Do you toss and turn at night unable to sleep because sleep brings dreams and dreams bring the accident? Does your heart stop every time your slightly startled? Or someone stops too fast at a stop sign? Or worse, does a Michigan stop? Do you drive with fear in your heart, watching every move every other driver makes, terrified that it will be the move that sends their car slamming into your own?

Does it take great effort to recall simple conversations you’ve had throughout the day? Or what movies you rented? Or if you called that place or just thought to call that place?

Have you had to call back the doctors, or your work, or the insurance company and feel like a fucking moron asking them to tell you AGAIN what they JUST said before hanging up because you didn’t get it all written down and you can’t fucking remember?

Do you have to pull out pen and paper or a calculator to do basic math that you have been doing in your head since you were seven?

Do you HAVE to ask your husband if he is being sarcastic or serious? If he’s upset or joking? If he’s angry or happy? Because you lost the ability to interpret basic body language and tone of voice! Because your brain is actually incapable of determining this information for itself!

I suffer all of these things, and then some. Inside of my mind I am constantly screaming because I am BEYOND frustrated at the barriers YOU caused in my head, in my marriage, in my income, in my job, in my parenting, in my entire God damned fucking life because, “opps, you didn’t see us”!

From the moment I saw your orange car far too close to mine I forgave you. I never once blamed you. Not as I was swiftly getting as far over on my side of the road to allow you ample room to notice me and move. Not as I was speeding up in a vain attempt to get past you before you completely overtook my lane. Not as I was desperately trying to get my SUV out of the fishtail you sent us into. Not as I was rolling endlessly down the freeway.

I never once blamed you as I was calling out to my loved ones, relief filling me at the sound of their voices. Not as I was being pulled out of the shattered passenger window. Not as I was trembling, trying not to vomit on the side of the road. Not as I was holding my mother in law terrified she was having the massive heart attack doctors warned her she was on the verge of. Not as I saw the terror in my husbands eyes as he struggled to look at his own mother, the same fears in his mind. Not as I nearly passed out in the ambulance because the movement and constant flashbacks it was throwing me into made me physically ill. Not as I was struggling to function through a day. Not as I was dealing with the horrible symptoms of a concussion and severely high blood pressure combined. Not as I convinced my children that it was okay to ride in a car again. Not as I convinced myself that it was okay….

But… maybe I was just in shock. Maybe, the parts of my brain ruined by the concussion couldn’t make sense of it. Maybe, because it was too soon. Maybe, because I really do forgive you…

I wonder though, are you really even sorry?

You didn’t lose anything. Your 2015 model fully insured car is likely already replaced with a year newer and 10,000 fewer mile car. In the meantime you likely had a spectacular rental car.

I had nothing. That car that you probably thought was a piece of shit and you were doing me a favor by completely destroying it, took me years to buy. I had just bought it 4 months before you destroyed it. It was my pride and glory. It had the four wheel drive for me to tear through rough back roads and the third row seating to haul any “extra” passenger our lives acquired. It had sharp black leather seats that remained crisp and clean even with children. I had spent the last four months getting it fixed from head to toe. All that was left was replacing that rusty front bumper. I spent an hour of my only day off every week cleaning the inside of that car from top to bottom, front to back. It was just a car. But it was my fucking car. And you fucked it up.

My car didn’t get replaced. I didn’t get a rental car. You see, I had never been in an accident before. My ignorant ass assumed that insurance, as a concept, WAS to cover these things in this type of situation. I THOUGHT that due to it being entirely your fault that your insurance would have my back. Boy was I ever wrong.

I got screwed. You got a new car. Guess we should all pay such close attention when we merge huh? Sure paid off for me.

I forgive you, sure, probably. But boy am I fucking pissed. You are twice my age, why in the hell were you not paying attention to the road when you are driving 70 miles per hour with a slew of other holiday travelers around you?! I was paying attention. I wasn’t talking to my passenger. I wasn’t changing my radio station. I wasn’t playing on my phone. I was doing EVERYTHING a driver is supposed to be doing. WHY WEREN’T YOU?!

You ruined my car. You ruined my brain. You ruined my blood pressure. You ruined my job. You ruined my anniversary. You ruined my fucking sanity.

I lay awake at night tossing and turning unable to sleep as that day and its effects play over and over and over in my head on a constant replay that I cannot stop, and I wonder SO much. Mostly though, I wonder…

If I ever even cross your mind….

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: 2016

Tags: , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Very moving!! I hope this lady somehow sees this post! If you don’t cross her mind, you damn well should! I’m still appalled at how insurance has been handling all of this!

    Liked by 1 person

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