"I'll give you a ride back to your apartment," Jessica offered as we walked out of practice tonight. Then she added only half-jokingly, "If you don't mind riding with me."
I could have walked back to my apartment, in fact I seriously considered it. However, the dangers of riding with Jess seemed less than the dangers of walking across campus alone in the dark.
As I got in her new car, I thought back to that warm October day. I remember getting in her car that morning and thinking, If we crash, these color guard flags are going to cause some serious internal damage. We did and they didn't.
This past October, Jessica and I were headed to an academic event when we blew a tire by running off the road to avoid getting hit head-on by a line of Dodge Rams. God sent us some of our classmates to change the tire. We were going to get to our destination and get a new tire since we were in the middle of nowhere and were headed towards a bigger city.
In this brouhaha our GPS got messed up. It was telling us to get on the freeway, get off at the next exit, get back on the freeway going the other direction, get off at the next exit and on and on and on. Since we were driving on a spare tire, we didn't think it was wise to be on the freeway at all but neither of us knew an alternative route. Well, it wasn't long before we needed more than just a new tire.
We pulled over in a vacant parking lot to adjust the GPS. Destination reset, directions make sense, knew where we're going, put the GPS down, and continued our journey. Not a mile later we t-boned a Dodge Ram.
Afterwards I didn't talk about the accident much because, well, there's no nice way to say, "Jess and I totaled her car yesterday." Besides, the conversation was always more or less the same.
"Oh my gosh, are you ok?"
I'm fine. Yes, I'm a bit sore, we totaled a car for heaven sake, but I've been more sore from tennis practice. No ambulance ride. No ER. No nothing. No, that answer isn't going to change if you call back in two hours.
"Were you scared?"First off, what kind of question is that? Who crashes a car and isn't scared? Me apparently. I watched the truck stop at the stop sign, cross oncoming traffic, cross the left lane, appear directly in front of our car. The only few seconds I cannot physically see were us making contact, the airbag deploying, and the trunk spinning. It would have been logical for me to close my eyes, after all there was an airbag colliding with my face (not to mention the truck colliding with our car). Even though I can't see those few seconds, I can hear the crunching of mental. With confidence I could tell EMS that my head was not responsible for the cracked windshield on the passenger side.
"Does the other driver have insurance?"
Can you drive a car without insurance? He admitted it was his fault and apologized. He said he never saw us but did stop at the stop sign. I know this to be true. I watched him do it.
First off, we are thankful for flat tires. Since we were driving with the spare tire, we were driving slowly, ten to fifteen miles under the speed limit. It's not hard to notice that if we had been driving the speed limit, the hood of our car could have easily gotten stuck under the truck. That's would have made for an entirely different outcome.
Secondly, it is a miracle that we had no injuries. The car took the brunt of the impact. Besides the dashboard, the only thing inside that was broken was Jess's GPS. (Which was already not in proper working order). Both of us were offered medical care. Jess opted for on-site evaluation, and I turned it down. For days I wondered if this was something I was going to regret, but I don't because I was not injured. In all honesty, I'm kind of disappointed we totaled a car and the only bruise on my body was from where I'd gotten body-slammed into the counter the week before. We are incredibly thankful for God's arms of protection surrounding us.
God provided us with compassionate people all the way through the day. From the other students who helped us change the tire to the woman who stopped to make sure we had a phone to call 911 to the bikers who waited with us until emergency personnel arrived to the emergency personnel themselves. Even the other driver was nice. There's no way I can ever thank everyone that helped us. I thought to thank some on the scene but some I didn't and that is one thing I regret from that day.
The other thing I regret is not being more of a backseat driver. I had been watching the truck the whole time. Jessica said she'd never heard me, "Jess, are you watching that truck? He doesn't see us. Jess! Truck!" I'd already been a backseat driver that day (as always), so I was trying not to be obnoxious. I was not screaming. Except for the millisecond as we were about to make contact when I doubted myself, I knew the whole time that he was not going to make it across the road before we both tried to be in the same place at the same time. I've resolved myself to forever be a backseat driver because I'd rather be annoying than be in a crushed car.
There are a zillion reasons why this accident didn't make sense:
- Periodically throughout our journey, Jess had been texting or talking on her cell phone. Texting/talking and driving has always bothered me. The irony is that she was not messing with her phone when we crashed.
- We should have never been on that road at all in our journey. If the GPS hadn't been messed up we would not have gotten off the freeway. If we would not have done the safe thing and pulled over in the parking lot, we would not have had to travel back down the road to get back to the freeway.
- If those first trucks and their ATVs had not made Jessica so nervous, we would not have swerved so far off the road that we hit the curb and popped her tire, so we could have been to our destination on time.
If, ands, and buts aside, we had an accident. That's exactly what this is: an accident. Except not to God. God doesn't have accidents; He may be the only one to know why it happened. But it did happen, and God is good. All the time.
Just because God is good doesn't mean our day was good. I mean, we got up on a Saturday to leave campus at 8am on what should have been a 55 minute drive only to return to campus at noon (the time I normally wake up on Saturdays) having never made it to our destination.
No, we did not get credit for the academic event we tried to attend. When I told the professor we tried to go and got into a car accident she looked me in the eye and essentially said, "Bummer." That irked me. If someone tells you they totaled a car trying to go to your event: do NOT under any circumstances say, "Bummer!" Even an, "I'm sorry" would have been nice... and necessary.
I've really struggled with this blog. Writing about the accident isn't hard; telling people about it is. However, I've really felt God's give me a story to tell, and I've been disobedient by keeping it to myself. I wrote this post a week ago and have revised/ rewritten it several times since then. Except I haven't posted it. I put it in my "next time I don't have something to say" collection of blogs. Face it, I always have something to say. I couldn't figure out why I was being so selfish and keeping this story silent.
Last night, I figured it out. Worshipping three rows in front of me was Jessica, my driver. Whether we like it or not, she and I will always have a bond because we crashed a car together.
Sitting in front of her was a different girl, also named Jessica. This other Jessica was in a car accident when she was in high school. A horrific accident where people died. She almost did, too. I'd known this for years but never really knew her story. Seeing her today helped me realize why I was being shy about sharing my story. The night before we crashed, Jessica told me about her car accident. She should not have lived! We talked about how God has healed her, physically and emotionally.
It clicked tonight seeing her for the first time in months. She was in a car accident and almost died, and God has used her story. I was in a car accident and walked away without a scratch; God can and will use my story, too.
I will not be silent any more!
PS. If you read this all the way through you deserve a hug because it's the Microsoft Word equivalent of three pages (without the photo). I'm sorry. Honestly, I tried to keep the details minimal. If I included everything I wanted to this post could have easily been fifteen pages. Ask me if you want more information because I'll freely give it. :-) Thanks for reading!