Yesterday afternoon I was driving, singing along loudly about elephants and llamas who wear pajamas when I saw a black Ford F-150 come from the left side, looking like it was going to cut me off. All of a sudden it hit me, causing my car to swerve, then I was hit again. The world spun around us, then when we finally came to a rest, still on the freeway, my brain was still in motion. The truck was driving off and finally pulled over on the left side of the freeway. In those first nanoseconds, I thought, it’s okay if he drives off, if he never comes back. I need to check on the kids. I jumped out and ran out to check on Nathan who was crying hysterically. I flung the door open, rubbed his head, surveyed him, padded him down in case–I don’t know–he broke something? Hit his head? Lost consciousness?
“Are you okay!” I asked him. He nodded but continued to cry. TJ was fine, he craned his head and smiled at me. Cars drove around us, their tires crunching over the glass left behind. These cars were full of looky-loos gawking at the panicking mom with the two kids.
I went back to my side and tried to find my phone which somehow disappeared, just like that commercial where in an accident, your phone enters some vortex mid-air. I found it under the seat. My hands were shaking, I could barely take that picture above.
The other driver tapped on my window. I got out. She asked if I was okay and I said yes, we were okay. She was okay. She had a passenger with her and they said they had seen the whole incident. They saw him drive into my lane and hit me. I asked them if they were sure, if they really saw it. They nodded. The woman called 911 while I called Mike at home to tell him that he needed to get us. We talked more over the roar of the cars passing us, more about what happened, repeating the incident to each other.
The cop finally came and first drove over to the the guy who was further up, a couple hundred feet away on the other side of the freeway. Finally, the cop went in reverse, his lights on, and drove backwards on the side of the road until he could get back into traffic and reach the two of us.
The officer got out and asked if we were okay. He then said that we should get our cars out. She could still drive hers but mine was stuck. The right wheel was dented in and wouldn’t budge when I had tried to move it earlier. He directed me to get into the car and that he would push me with his car to get us out of traffic (we were still in the lane). Great! Another car to hit me, I thought. Fortunately, it was very smooth and the road was slick enough that I just skidded forward.
I could see the guy across the road. I wanted to mean mug him, yell at him. Throw something toward him. But I saw that he had kids in his car. A blonde girl peered out the window. I looked away.
Eventually he drove across the way so our cars were lined up on the side. We gave our insurance cards, licenses and registration papers to the officer and returned to our cars. I heard the driver talk to the officer, saying something about fishtailing. He stopped at my window and said, “I’m sorry. I just lost it.”
I didn’t reply, just nodded my head. I didn’t know how to respond to him so I didn’t say anything.
Mike finally showed up. I relayed everything to him. I was still keeping it together. I didn’t want to freak out in front of Nathan or TJ, moreso Nathan because he gets so rattled easily. I called a tow truck. I called the insurance company. The officer gave us a paper that listed the information of the other drivers. The truck driver didn’t have his insurance card on him, but I heard him say which insurance it was. (This is the part I hope doesn’t become a nightmare.)
All the other drivers left. When the tow truck driver came, we moved as much as we could into my tiny car. We were to meet the driver near their lot which just so happened to be in Mike’s old neighborhood. We pulled into a 7-11 and I took Nathan out because he had cried that he needed to go to a bathroom and during this whole time, he held it in. My poor baby.
I took Nathan inside and I asked if there was a public restroom. She said if it was for him, then it was okay. I ushered Nathan into the restroom. When we emerged, I thanked her again and tried to explain we had just gotten to an accident and my kids were with us.
She pointed to Mike who was standing outside. “I recognize your husband. Are you the SECOND WIFE?”
“Uhhh..Yeah? But I’m number one.”
She didn’t laugh. She continued to study my face and said. “I remember they used to live here. She was old…And you are young.”
Who knew 7-11 owners were so perspective! They should change the name to 20/20!
She then said, “Yeah they built a condo where they lived. Do you have pictures of their old place?”
I shook my head. No, I do not have pictures of the house my husband lived in with his ex-wife. I don’t really keep that kind of record and hey, did you hear the part about how we JUST GOT INTO AN ACCIDENT?!
We left and waited for the tow guy. They called and said our insurance had directed our car to another lot for the inspector to come by in the morning. So we drove home and Mike dropped TJ and me off and then took Nathan to the pool because we had promised him.
The funny thing about accidents is that I always read about them in the newspaper and scan for the time and place it happened. I think, that couldn’t happen to me. That accident happened on the otherside of town at 9 pm. I would be home at that time. But this happened on a Sunday afternoon and it happened to me. We are so lucky that it wasn’t worse, that no one was hurt. No one died. I can replace cars and car seats, but not my family. That was one of the most terrifying moments of my life, the impact, the spinning, the disorientation and the panic. Now I’m in the shock of what
happened and the terror of what could have been.
My back and legs feel really sore this morning and everything that bends also aches. But Nathan and TJ seem unaffected. They’re smiling and laughing and I would rather be without a car than be without those two.