“Actually, Micah, I have never had a serious wreck.” These words were spoken by me at an Applebees somewhere between home and Dallas the night we started our drive to Memphis to see Strokeman’s mom and our other children for an early Christmas celebration. At this point, Strokeman was not walking at all apart from rehab. I would never have been so foolish as to drive to Memphis with just Strokeman and me in the car, but I felt pretty competent to repeat a trip we had taken many, many times over the years as long as I had another adult in the car to help me. So the three of us had planned our trip: leaving in the early evening to drive the 5 hours to Texarkana, stop for the night, and then continue on in the morning. Strokeman had taken some Dramamine, and was asleep in the front seat, Micah was asleep in the back seat. I was driving the speed limit, being thankful that I was not tired, that there wasn’t much traffic, and that things seemed to be going fairly smoothly.
I was on a part of the road that was not lined with lights, so my visibility was limited to what my headlights revealed in front of me. Suddenly I saw a man running across the road waving his hands above his head to make sure I saw him as he crossed my lane. The time between my headlights hitting him and the potential of my car hitting him was only seconds. Thankfully there was nothing in the lanes around me, so I swerved to the left and reactively applied the brakes. The car began to fishtail and I told myself to be calm and tried to remember the best way to get out of this without having a wreck. Not enough time. My front left tire caught the curb on the middle divider, and the car flipped over on its top and skidded down the road. And I found myself suspended upside down in a totaled car with my husband and son hanging next to me. None of us lost consciousness, we all voiced being ok, and My son and I got ourselves down and started working on getting my husband out of his belt and lowering him the few inches to the ground. Meanwhile, the traffic in all lanes had been stopped by a large tractor truck. Thankfully no other cars were involved. My son and I were able to get out of the car and walk away, but of course I was afraid to move Strokeman until the paramedics got there to help. It was cold, and he was laying on broken glass, and all I could think about was his blood thinning medication. What if he bled to death right there on the highway?
The paramedics came, we were driven to the emergency room, and the car was towed to the nearest junk yard. As it turned out, apart from a few bruises from seat belts and airbags, we were all ok. Being in a small Texas town, we were given the southern courtesy of a ride to the nearest hotel by the police. As it was about 2:00 A.M. at this point, and there was nothing to be done, I texted each of the children not with us to let them know where we were and why, knowing they wouldn’t see it until the arose in the morning. I put Strokeman to bed, and then tried to rest as well, as the events of the crash played over and over in my mind.
As I got up the next day, having slept very little, and feeling overwhelmed and defeated, I began to sob. Poor Strokeman, still so lost in his recovering brain, told me I needed to pull myself together, that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t really care whose fault it was, I was just tired of having to deal with one more thing. It is one of a million times since the stoke I have longed for the comfort of his loving arms holding me while I cry. But I pulled myself together, and we waited for my youngest son to come to pick us up and take us home.
No one else saw the man. The cars behind me were too far away, and my fellow passengers were asleep. I don’t know if anyone really believes I saw a man running across the highway. What are the chances of someone being that stupid that late at night on a dark highway? And we all know I was under a little bit of stress. But I was wide awake, and I saw a man, and had I not swerved, I would have killed him.
This was not a great day in my life. Having said that, I must also say that it was a day of many tender mercies.
It is a mercy that I did not take the life of the man on the highway.
It is a mercy that none of us were hurt.
It is a mercy that there were no other cars involved.
It is a mercy that this particular car was totaled. It was not functional for our needs. It was too low to the ground for Strokeman to maneuver easily, it was difficult to get the wheelchair in and out of the trunk, It was small and cramped for Strokeman’s large frame. We had already begun to discuss finding another car, but if my hand hadn’t been forced, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to actually do what needed to be done. I have a tendency to put off what I don’t feel competent to handle, which is why my shower is still un-remodeled.
It is a mercy that Micah was with us to help us get from the hospital to the hotel. It is a mercy that he, of all the kids, was with us, because when I begin to fret for his life in the army I remind myself that he almost met his death at my hand, and that being here with me does not lengthen or shorten his life. His days are numbered just as mine are, and he will not die until the day appointed for him by God.
It is a mercy that the wheelchair we damaged was a loner from the incompetent company that couldn’t manage to work with our insurance to get us what we needed, as opposed to the good one we finally got through another company.
The car I got to replace the one that was totaled is by far the most beloved car I have ever owned. While I still hate to drive at night, and I hide my eyes when scenes of car wrecks are depicted on TV shows or movies, I can honestly say I am thankful for my new car every time I get in it. It is to me a wonderful example of God giving us more than we could ever ask for. I can almost be thankful for the awful experience that brought it to me – almost. For now, I can be thankful for the God who loves and protects His children, even when crazy men run across the highway at night.