The side hit felt like the kind you’d encounter if you were in a bumper car at an amusement park or fair.
But I wasn’t at either establishment. I was driving 60 MPH on a Monday morning just when the sun began making its entrance. Next thing I knew, after that “bump,” I was spinning out of control across three lanes of northbound traffic on Indianapolis’ bypass during rush hour traffic.
I remember screaming for what felt like minutes (when in reality it was only seconds) and saying something like, “OH MY GOSH, WHAT’S HAPPENING!?!” and thinking, I’m going to go into southbound traffic! and I’m going to die!, while my body bobbled to and fro.
And just like that, it stopped. Cars whizzed past me and the sound of side airbags deploying, along with glass shattering, filled my ears. My car had stopped within about three feet of the concrete divider that separated north and south bound traffic. I was alive. I was breathing. I had no cuts or bruises–just a sore neck and back. A seatbelt undoubtedly had a hand in saving my life–or least preventing major injuries.
Shaking, I called my husband, waking him from sleep. Surprisingly, my cell phone only moved mere inches from within the open console where it lay when I left home.
I surveyed the damage, at first from my front seat. My white diamond-colored SUV was in bad shape, and I suspected it was totaled (it was). My purse had dumped in the floorboard and so had my lunch. Lettuce for the salad I planned to eat that day was strewn everywhere, the bag upside down.
A fellow driver walked up to see if I was okay. When I slowly exited my vehicle, I saw four cars jammed together like puzzle pieces about 100 feet from me. None of us had caused the accident. We were victims of what another driver said was a flatbed truck that initially struck me. A driver that never stopped and fled the scene. The Indiana State Police officer asked me what happened. All I knew was that I was driving along where 465 East and I-70 merge. I saw a driver to my right in one of the merging lanes, minding his own business and probably driving to work like me. Right behind that vehicle, I spotted a left turn signal flashing from another vehicle and briefly though, I hope that driver waits to merge because he has nowhere to go!
And boom. That was it. I was hit. The seemingly impatient driver sped up and merged into my right side. He hadn’t waited.
And then he drove off.
Surprisingly, I’m not that angry. Do I wish he had stopped? Absolutely. He has caused a lot of grief, where medical bills, increased insurance rates, loss of work wages, and emotional tears are concerns for five drivers. (Thankfully, my insurance has said it’s been proven that I am not responsible, so that’s a plus.) He has caused me to be fearful to drive again even though I know it must do it. He caused fear in the lives of our family members and some friends who have expressed their deepest thankfulness that I wasn’t further injured–or killed. (Can you imagine if a semi had slammed into me while I spun out of control? I shudder just thinking about it.)
But that driver who didn’t stop has also given me a gift. Unexpectedly, of course. I have become aware of some incredible gifts of grace in the past few days.
- My husband has been amazing in his care for me and the way he’s taken care of the paperwork to clear up this major inconvenience. He has been rock steady, which is true to his usual character.
- Our son wasn’t with me in that car. The right side my car was pretty banged up and Andrew’s car seat sits on that same side.
- I made the drive again to work this week and arrived safely with only a slight stomachache of nerves.
- I’ve received many sweet texts, messages, calls, and in-person greetings from loved ones who simply say, “I’ve been praying for you, and I’m glad you’re okay.”
I noticed another gift while soaking up some sunshine at work this week. As I mentioned, lettuce was strewn everywhere in the front seat of my car. Small pieces even landed on my sunglasses, which were sitting near my phone in the console when I wrecked.
As I took a walk recently, I noticed a small, green dot on the side of my sunglasses. I moved to take it off then stopped. As long as that lettuce shred stays on my sunglasses, I’m leaving it there. That piece of spinach mix reminds me of a God who gives endless grace and unrelenting faithfulness. His hand of protection on my life that day is extremely evident. So the lettuce will remain. Every time I look at that tiny piece of lettuce, I’ll remember just what He did that day.
And that I’m still here to talk about it.