life as we know it

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

One year ago

I have never particularly enjoyed driving. In fact, I have believed that I have truly experienced some spiritual warfare surrounding cars (think Frank E. Peretti's This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness). This is all very funny, considering I commute 30 miles one way every day. 30 miles doesn't sound particularly bad, actually. Except that I live in Colorado, which had one of the most brutal winters last year with lots of snow and freezing temperatures that kept the snow around from October until April (seriously, the dead grass in our backyard proves it). And that my commute involves almost 3,000 feet in elevation change. And that the drive looks like this on a map:

My commute starts in Loveland- not at the A. I also got to experience a longer term detour up to Glen Haven (at the top of the map) last winter due to construction.

Fortunately, I know this road and could drive it with my eyes closed (and sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, I wish that was legal and safe). I know the curves and how quickly you can take each one safely. Where the drainage isn't good and the road always freezes. Where the speed limit changes (which it does about 100 times between my house and work). Where it's safe to pull over in case you have someone particularly speedy behind you.

One year ago today was a Monday. The first Monday back from work after celebrating the new year. I think someone says something like, 'you never expect the unexpected.' Duh. I was only 10 minutes into my usual 45-60 minute commute and there was no snow on the ground. Still, though, I know you can't always see the slick spots, so I was going much slower than normal. I came around a somewhat gentle curve (at least compared to the others along the way) and the back end of my car ended up where the front end used to be, although my momentum was still in the same direction. Bad idea. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a car coming towards me. There was literally nothing either one of us could do. I don't have solid memories of the collision itself. The details from that point on are fresh in my mind, though. A little too fresh sometimes. I begged for the first car I saw to call 911. No cell phone. The passenger side of my car was smashed, so along with it, my purse that was sitting in the front seat with my phone in it was, also. The next car called. As the ambulance came around the corner with lights flashing, it also lost control and fishtailed around. I was in the ambulance to be evaluated and felt another big impact. It also got hit as we sat on the side of the road. It was an ice skating rink that I was lucky enough to have discovered first.

I have spent every single day I commute that road thinking about my accident. What if? If only. But it often occurs to me, also, what if not? What if the other car hadn't been there? I have no idea where my car would have ended up (although I do know it was heading straight for the river). My dear husband drove me to work the rest of that week. The next week, he told me no. Said it was time I needed to drive again. I hated it. I cried. I thought about quitting my job. But Monday came, and I got in the car. I pulled over about 8-9 times to let others around my white-knuckled self, but I made it to work safely. And I have every day since. When I resent my commute (which is all the time quite often), I now stop and after being grateful for having a job I enjoy, I thank God for allowing me to arrive safely and safely back home. I hope I can always allow myself to regain perspective in life.

I do some things differently now. I call or text Nick every single time I start my commute and let him know I'm leaving and that I love him. You just never know. I also keep my cell phone in my pocket. If I'm in another accident and there is a way I can make a phone call, I'll have it on me. I drive like a grandma (a safe grandma) when roads are wet and it's below freezing. I think about things differently. And I'm grateful for that. And I'm grateful I'm here to remember those things.

 Lucky to have walked away.


  1. I'm so glad you are safe and driving again and can look back on it one year later knowing how blessed you really were! Love you!

  2. I will always remember getting your call...the call all parents dread...that your beloved child has been in an accident. You write beautifully about your experience, what you learned from that experience, from the more practical things like keeping your cell phone in your pocket to the things that become life's always tell the people you love that you love them, that life is fragile and we should never take anything or anyone for granted, and that you were truly blessed that day, just as you have been before and will be again. God was with you as you drove around that curve, Kelly, and your car fishtailed and the other car was coming straight toward you...He has your life planned...He saved you that day... He has a very special child that He wants to give you to watch over and care for...which is the journey you're on now. He is with you always. I know you know that. Please know you are loved by so many people and how much I love you and how proud I am of you. I wish I was there and could give you, and Nick, a big hug. For now, this will have to do. My love to Duke, too. Mom