A few years ago I took a Dale Carnegie course. One of my favorite lessons I learned from the instructor is: “if you lived it you have the right to tell the story.” So that is what I am doing now.
I have over 70 journal entries written about May 29, 2015. I have selected a handful to share a year later. I’ve only edited for grammar/punctuation and clarity. I wrote the entry on July 16th.
July 16, 2015
Every day I write a new story in my head about the accident. Every story is an accurate representation.
I got up that morning just like every other morning. Except this time I heard the roads were flooded. I decided to go to work late to avoid the flooding and the traffic.
With my extra time I curled my hair and put on my new adventure outfit I hadn’t yet worn to work. I went to work.
I left the office at 7:30 pm to go home. I was worn out from the day and the week. I had been working longer hours because I had recently been given additional responsibilities. I wanted to prove I was a hard worker and very capable.
What happened next is my story. I lived it and I am haunted by it daily. While people can think it’s their place to give advice— I don’t want advice. All I want is a silent audience that will listen. I am the one that almost died. Not you. Me. I want to address the guilty parties. And from my perspective there are many. I want to address them with piercing words they can never forget.
First I address the person that caused the accident:
I can never undo the terror I lived. I can never undo your careless, selfish actions. You do not have any claim on my patience, kindness or understanding. You forfeited that the moment you thought you could drive after drinking. I don’t care whether or not you passed the sobriety tests. Let your actions speak for themselves. You rammed your vehicle into mine while speeding. I find your existence a futile waste of time given your demeanor after the accident.
There are no words in the English language you can say to undo your actions. No words that will soften my heart or that will make me want to give you any respect. You didn’t care about my life. You had complete disregard for all lives the moment you got behind the wheel.
Imagine the terror and the feeling of vulnerability. I had no control of my car. Imagine the helplessness of that moment.
Never did I expect to be in that situation at that moment. My number had been selected. It was like that feeling of getting a jury notice— you wonder how among all the people on the planet your name was selected to participate in this drama.
Each day since the accident I think I get better. And as time passes and I reflect on week 1 or week 6— I think wow. How did I <fill in the blank>. How did I get up the next day? How did I go to work? How did I focus on work? How did I get back in a car and drive? How did I?
I remember feeling helpless and alone for weeks. I would drive to churches looking for help and guidance. I poured my heart out. I was drenched in tears. There was no one. Instead the quiet presence of God.
Initially I had no interest in food. I saw no need— I wasn’t hungry and didn’t see the point.
Purchasing a car is a blur of a memory. Looking back I don’t understand how any decent human being on this planet could expect a person to purchase a car with ease, after having been in such a violent accident only weeks before.
Few people grasp what it is like. And unless you have walked in my shoes or experienced a similar circumstance, you may try to empathize but you still don’t know what it is like.
While waiting at a red light, imagine the terror I feel. Will the approaching car stop? Are they going to rear end me?
While driving on the tollway which requires an incredible amount of grit and determination, cars tail me or weave in and out of traffic— as if they are invincible and I’m invincible. I assure you, neither of us are.
There are a great number of cowards, dishonest and lazy people I have encountered since the accident. I find their behavior disheartening and reprehensible.
I’ve spent the first two weeks asking God questions that begin with: why… And how…
I hope someday to know the answers to my questions. Surely there has to be a reason I haven’t considered.
Driving is freedom. Unless you’re me. It became a chore. An absolute chore to drive 30 miles to work. It was an absolute chore to drive 5 minutes away to Starbucks. A lot could happen during that journey.
I’ve wanted to get my hair done at a new salon but I don’t know where it is. And the thought of driving to an unfamiliar place stresses me.
I don’t know how I’ll visit the arboretum. I don’t want to get on US75.
The botanical gardens in Ft Worth is a stressful proposition.
The downtown Cathedral is unthinkable.
All this and more is what a 20 something, careless individual caused. The individual will never comprehend the mess she made and I’m doubtful she would care.
So I return to my endless questions. Where is the justice? How can that individual live with herself? Why did this involve me? How can dishonest individuals sleep at night? When will this story end?