"Check for bodies."
"She was going so fast. There's no way someone could have survived that."
"Look for someone down the embankment, they could have been thrown."
Those were the words I woke up to one year ago. I knew I had just been in an accident, a horrible accident. As I layed, pinned against the steering wheel upside down it all started coming back to me. But before I could reflect on the eighty seconds that changed me forever, I had to address the immediate.
There was gas leaking and I needed to get out. So with a body bruised and pummeled by sheets of metal and exploding glass I had no choice but to break free and slide my body over the layers of jagged glass leading to the ground. Adrenaline and shock kicked in making the cuts and tears from glass virtually painfree and unnoticed, adding to the layers of glass deeply protruding leaving permanent scars and ribbons of cuts still with me to date.
The rest was a blur, I didn't notice my shirt was off. A firstaider covered me. The ambulance took so long and the shock grew deeper. I could tell it was probable I would lose consciousness again so I started rattling off information that could be pertinent for strangers who had just witnessed a car roll across four lanes of highway into oncoming traffic before skidding on its roof to hit a rock embankment.
"My name is Meghan. I'm 27. I'm hypoglycemic and allergic to penicillin and sulfurics. My parents cell phone number is in my phone under Parents. Call them. I'm currently not taking any medication."
The ambulance came. I looked at the crumpled remains of the car I loved so much. My first car. My graduation present. Now a twisted piece of sheet metal, a skeleton of itself. It was gone. I looked at my body. Streaks of gravel, broken teeth, obvious concussion, torn muscles. Pavement where skin should be and tears staining a face covered in glass and oil. But I was still here. I was lucky.
" I don't know if I believe in angels. I don't know if I believe in God. But I think there's someone out there that didn't want you to die tonight. I've been to dozens of accidents that weren't as bad as this where the people didn't walk away. You shouldn't have walked away. But you did. You're lucky."
The cop who witnessed it all said. He was saying it to be kind but also to be truthful. I was getting charged while still bandaged and in pain. He was nice and gave minimal charges despite my truthfulness.
"Yes, I was speeding. Excessively. Yes, I was smoking. Yes I looked away from the road, but only for a minute...and I lost control."
It only took a second, a split second and everything changed. If I had killed someone I would have been charged with manslaughter he said. I would have deserved it. I felt I deserved more punishment for all the pain I caused. My family who had to get a phone call informing them their daughter was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. The friends who had to see me in the hospital, their gasps audible as I was wheeled through the ER a mass of IV bags and braces. My brother who had to search hospitals to find me. The people who found out by hearing it on the news. The staff who was accomodating to the months of physiotherapy and doctors appointments that followed.
One year later and I'm still so affected. Just as how at age fourteen I vowed to never drink and drive after having a friend killed by a drunk driver, I have been affected by speed. The flashbacks and nightmares that followed for months. Knowing if I had rolled one more time......if the truck had been ten feet closer.....the cowboy hat that saved my head from the crushed roof.....the oversized sunglasses saving my eyes from the splinters of glass.........The depression. The fear. The embarrassment. I am just now slowly starting to drive on the highways again, and it is terrifying but I know I must do it. I will conquer it.
At age twenty seven I was faced with my own mortality, in a brief moment that I cannot ever describe in words. It changed everything. I heard today of possibly two other accidents that have happened in the Okanagan within the last twenty four hours. Likely relating to speed. One with fatalities.
The need for speed isn't all about hotshot punkass shits with souped up Civics street racing that kills. It's the people that want to make the long weekend traffic that much faster, get to the camping spot, the festival, the relativies. It's anyone. It's me. I need the adrenaline rush. But now I also respect my mortality and that of others.
And with the streaks of tears back on my face as the floodgates have reopened, I wear my scars proud rather than ashamed. I survived my own stupidity and that's my daily reminder. I don't need the speed to feel alive, I feel alive by slowing down and respecting my life and others around me.