Tuesday, July 15, 2008

There Was Someone Looking Over You

"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.

21 comments:

sandy said...

Wow, this was so well written & I can't believe that happened to you.

Ben said...

This post is incredible. I had chills from start to finish.

Jamie Lovely said...

I agree with Ben on this one, Meghan. Really.

Slyde said...

wow! that was beautifully said.

I've been there. on the day before my 21st birthday, i was driving home from a party and hit another motorist head on. I went thru the windshield that night.

changes you forever, but it makes you better.

Roland Hulme said...

wow. Very powerfully written stuff...

I don't have any experiences like that to share - that goodness - but I have noticed I've slowed down A LOT as I've got older.

I've always driven old (seventies and eighties) sports cars and when I was a young man, would zoom around like a crazy person. Now, ESPECIALLY in America, I drive at the speed limit because the last thing I want to do is get into an accident.

So many dickheads in NEw Jersey zoom about, swerving in and out of traffic. They put themselves in danger (which I couldn't care less about) but now I've got a child in the car... I could kill every single one of them.

nrichie2345 said...

this is soo touching...I was the passenger in two of my friend's totalled car accidents, I'm petrified of driving.

Mike said...

The fact that you admit responsibility, that you understand your own fault, speaks volumes to your maturity.

In this day and age of entitlement, nothing is anybodies fault any more, lending to a planet full of whiny, idiot children of all ages.

It's unfortunate that you had the accident.

What is fortunate is that you survived, made a full recovery, hurt no one else, realized your mistake and learned from it.

Since you wear your scars with pride, want to share them with us? Scars are cool ;)

Angela said...

Wow, what a good post. I looked through your archives and read what you wrote last year, but today's entry was a lot more emotional, I thought. I'm glad you made it. And I'm glad you try to drive more safely now, too. There are a lot of people who get into accidents but just go back to their old ways.

Jenn said...

This was an amazing post Meghan. Thank you for sharing.

lotus07 said...

Interesting what life teaches us, if we survive long enough to figure it out.

Meghan said...

sandy- thanks.

ben-sorry to give you chills, but will take it as a compliment.

jamie-thanks :)

slyde- it does change you forever in a way that's both subtle and strong. sorry that happened to you as well.

roland- i think we all go through that adolescent stage, but having to be responsible for the life of a child in the car other than yourself really sets it home.

nritchie2345- sorry you went through that. I can understand your fear.

mike-thankfully it's a lesson i was able to learn without killing someone or myself. and chicks dig guys with scars, does that go the other way around?

angela- at the time I was using humour as a defense machanism. I think the year brought clarity as to how affective it really was. And thank you.

Jenn-thanks for reading.

Lotus- sometimes the best lessons aren't the easiest ones to learn.

redstaplernation said...

Wow, Meghan. Just WOW.

I did my drunk driving this weekend and it's not the first time I've been a little tipsy behind the wheel. And I've been so ridiculously lucky. Your story made me shiver for a second... because you're here to tell it, and because I shouldn't need my own story to make myself behave.

TaraMetBlog said...

wow, i have chills! how scary and i love the build up of how you shared your story. Good thing you shared your medical info with them, sorry about the scars. funny you say that you are proud of them, i'm looking my different ones and feel the same way, well except for the stupid burn i got from making cookies that was pretty stupid and not significant ;)

Bennet said...

Interesting writings. I like it.

I was in an accident a year ago & I kind of enjoyed the adrenaline afterwards to be honest.

Was better than any stiff coffee brew ever.

I was sandwiched between a big truck & a car. I made it out fine.

Tricia said...

Frightening! So glad you came out unscathed! (physically at least) and glad you slowed down!

Went to a defensive driving course to save money on insurance and the guy told us that the difference between driving 55mph and 75mph on a 40 mile drive was less than 1 minute in the end. It isn't worth it to drive that fast, it really doesn't make up any time even.

That being said I stay with traffic during my morning commute cause driving slower is dangerous too. Average speed is 75-80 on the thruway. I hope I never wreck at those speeds.

Very nicely written! :)

Julia said...

Wow, that was incredibly well written and really shows your strength. Great post.

Jenny said...

An amazing story. Wow, you put it so great in words. I can see it all in front of me.
A really, really touching story.
Just W-O-W!

Malice Blackheart said...

You know, it’s funny how often our blogs seem to coincide, first about dating, now about driving. I just finished a driving course myself (mainly theory) and came away with some great little tidbits about curbing the need for speed.

As obvious as it sounds, the best way not have accidents, is not to speed, and the best way not to speed is to learn to, or decide to enjoy driving. Treat like a hobby, if you will. If traffic is getting heavy, let it get heavy, if other people want to pass you, let them pass you. You’re doing the speed limit, and you’re enjoying your drive. It’ll take as long as it takes, and hey, you’ve got your show toons, or your favorite radio station to keep you company.

Of course, nothing can be as powerful, as you said, as the feel of being alive – and staying that way. That not speed makes you feel more alive, because you had such a close brush with death.

Anyway Meghan, I’m glad you made it out okay, and I’m glad you learned your lesson, because I really enjoy reading your blog.

Meghan said...

redstaplernation-you're right. you do know better.

tara-cookies are never a silly reason.

bennet-needless to say we have drastically dfferent reactions.

tricia- that's an interesting stat people should know.

julia & jenny- thanks, I appreciate that.

malice-great advice, I wish more people would follow

lukkydivz said...

Oh you sure described it the way it happened. That did teach you a lesson right? Drive slow, do not drink and drive, drive with attention! i hope you have got back in shape ;)

take care!


p.s-i drive at a speed not more than 20kmph :P! cool na? :)

Paula said...

Beautifully written and terrifying. It sounds like an awful thing to have happened, but at least you've learned from it.