Today marks the 20th anniversary of tradegy in my life: a blessing in the midst of great sorrow.
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning in July. I arrived at my grandmother’s house and was greeted with a warm smile and a gift. Boy was I excited! I ripped open the gift and saw a beautiful white denim outfit: a t-shirt and shorts. I ran to the bathroom to put on my new outfit. “Thanks Grandma! I love it!” She seemed delighted that I enjoyed the outfit so much. I was super excited – it was going to be an awesome day. I got a cool outfit and we were going to visit my dad in his new house. As soon as my great-aunt arrived, we were on our way.
We stopped along the way at a gas station because I needed to use the restroom. A few towns later, we stopped for lunch. Soon, I had talked Grandma into stopping at a DQ for an ice cream treat. “Ok Dawn, this is the last stop,” she said. “No more stopping now until we’re there.”
I pulled out my Teen magazine, slipped off my shoes, and read for a while. I then switched to the middle of the backseat and buckled the lap belt. I closed my eyes and pretended to drift off to sleep in hopes that they’d talk about me if they thought I was asleep. It worked! They began talking about me…that’s the last memory I have until waking up in the hospital.
I was lying down in a bed. I must have been near the window because it was very bright. A bright white – so pure, like a white I had never seen before. The nurse seemed faint or foggy…I could barely see her, but her shadow was in the window. “Where am I? Where’s my grandma?” I asked the nurse. “You’re at the hospital.” What?! Where’s my grandma?” “You’re mother will talk to you about that.” “No! You should tell me. Where am I? Why am I here? Where’s my grandma?” She refused any information.
I was in a coma for three days. When I came to, my mother tested my brain by asking me questions about people – their names and how I knew them. I knew everyone except my dad. I don’t remember anything of this ‘testing.’
Based on eyewitness testimony, our car either failed to stop/yield and drove into on-coming traffic. We were broadsided from the right by a car traveling at 60mph and then immediately broadsided again from the left by another quick-moving car. According to the police report, our car (driver door to passenger door) was crunched to only 3ft wide. See the police diagram of the accident HERE. (We are car #1)
The police could not locate my identification at first. Luckily, when they searched the car a second time, they found my Teen magazine which listed my name/address. My parents were notified of this horrific event.
The great sorrow in this story occurred when I learned that both my great-aunt and beloved grandma were deceased. The blunt trauma of the accident killed them immediately. The force was so strong that my seatbelt broke. My body was in the right-rear seat, somewhat hanging out the window. My head was bleeding and glass was tangled in my hair. My mother would spend the next week carefully snipping these bits from my hair while I slept.
I remember feeling upset that the emergency crew cut my new clothes in two. That was the last thing I had from my grandma. The ironic part is that we had traveled over 3 hours to get to my father’s house and were less than 15 minutes away when we had the accident.
The blessing in this story is that my life was spared. After a week in the hospital, I walked away with only a broken collarbone, stitches on my chin and foot, and dizziness. It is truly a miracle that I survived this crash. This anniversary is a reminder to cherish every moment of life and to make life matter.
This post is in loving memory of my grandmother Vi…I miss you!
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Dawn. I am sure your grandmother and great-aunt would be very proud to see what you have accomplished in your life so far 🙂
Dawn, how heart-wrenching. I agree with Loriei that your grandmother and great-aunt would be proud of all you have accomplished. Thanks for sharing and for the tribute to your grandma.