there’s nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time

Sixteen years ago, I was in a car accident with my 18-month-old daughter.  Driving a Saab 9000 with Kristina in a carseat in the back, I was waiting at an odd-angled intersection to turn right.  The man driving the high-rise pick-up truck behind me could see well up the road, believed it to be clear, and hit the gas.  I could see the car that had just switched into my lane and I stayed put.

He piled into the back of my car.

A little over a year later, I was at another right-turn – a merge lane on a city street with weaving traffic from both sides – with an impatient young woman in a sedan behind me.  She could not see the traffic in front of me, and decided we had been there long enough.  She was late for a chiropractic appointment, needed because she had rear-ended someone else the week before.  Irony, much?

She drove straight into me, talked for a minute, and then left the scene.  Fortunately, I had her name and her license plate number – the police were able to find and cite her.

Finally, in 1999, on the way home from the dentist, I was sitting in my car (another Saab) in a double line of cars waiting for the light to change.  Kristina was sitting beside me, a row of cars beside her, a concrete median on my other side.  The light ahead turned green, but as we were about ten cars back, we hadn’t started moving yet.  I looked in my rear-view mirror to see a wheelchair access bus getting bigger, filling the frame, until – you guessed it – we were hit.

I was beginning to feel as if I had a bullseye target on my rear bumper.

not this bus

None of the collisions were my fault, or even avoidable.  Kristina was told in her driver’s education class that unless a meteor is falling from the sky, ALL collisions are avoidable.  She argued the point in class because she had seen first-hand how that rule is not inviolable.

In the last case, there was nowhere to go.  In the first two, the only way to avoid the collision from behind would have been to drive into moving traffic – clearly not an option.

Still, very distressing.  My child and I were injured each time, and while she has long since recovered with no lasting effects, I re-injured the same joints each time and now have arthritis that acts up in damp and cold.

This is on my mind right now because of a slip on New Year’s Eve.

I often urge our guests to “mind the driveway and the bridge, they are slippery in the wet,” and I am careful of this myself.  In a small gap in the weather on New Year’s Eve morning, Ed and I tested the new generator, finishing up mid-day, just as it started to rain heavily.

As he tidied up, I walked up to collect the mail.  On the way back down the slope of the driveway, I lost my footing.  It was just like a cartoon: my feet went out in front of me, peddling forward trying to regain purchase until they were straight out and I was falling to the ground in one flat plane.  I let out a surprised, “whoa!” as my view changed from driveway to bridge to rooftop to tree branches in an instant.

My eyes blinked open – how long had I been there? – and I noticed the rain falling on my face, the cold from the ground seeping into every bone.  Scan through my body – anything broken?  I’ve never broken anything but my nose, so I’m not sure how I would know, but people assure me: I would know.  Apparently I moaned then, but I had not moved.

And then there was Ed, his face over mine, worried and uncertain.

He had heard me call out, but said I sounded more surprised than anything.  He looked out and didn’t see me, so figured I had seen something that caught my eye.  Then he heard me moan, looked out again, and realised he was looking at my feet.  Fortunately, he was there to hear me, to help me inside, to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I hit my head on the concrete, also my shoulders, tailbone, and hips.  My neck and shoulders worked really hard to keep my head from hitting any harder – they did their job well – but the result is a whiplash injury that has tightened all those muscles like a tanker ship’s docking cable.  Everything else hurt so much, it took me a few days to notice the goose-egg on my right hip. 

All of it is almost exactly like being hit from behind by a bus.  Or a car.  Or a truck.

I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself, and also pretty stupid.  And clumsy.  I knew the driveway was slippery: I was taking small steps and paying attention.  On that day, it just wasn’t enough.

it was raining, not snowing, but you can see: not much slope here

I’ve been too sore to drive, to cook dinner, to write/type, to make the creative notes I have in mind for Christmas-gift thank you cards.  I was unable to head up to Canada to see my sister again while she was visiting from Sweden.

Feeling very sorry for myself indeed.

For 2010, I committed to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday blogging schedule here, and I really wanted to make that happen.  I has a post in mind for Friday, inspired by Brené Brown’s Trust+Gratitude+Inspiration Fridays.  Brené graciously agreed to let me use her graphic on my post.And then of course, she was eager to read the post, but it wasn’t up yet.  I explained that I was hurt and having trouble getting it together.  She encouraged me to take care of myself, saying that her rule is to “give my self 2x the TLC I think I need!”

Brené was right.  Then I realised I had a different post to write.  This one.

Today I trust

  • that I will recover and heal
  • that this down-time will serve my creative work
  • that I had enough time with my family in Canada to last until we are together again
  • that it is okay to not DO all things I normally do, to let people help me

Today I am grateful

  • that my injuries weren’t worse
  • that I didn’t have to spend New Year’s Eve in the hospital
  • that my husband was here to help immediately
  • that I knew how to treat my injuries and start my healing

Today I am inspired

  • by the caring of people I have never met
  • by the generosity of my family
  • and by this video (via Karen at Chookooloonks) of people singing the same beautiful song at the same time, all over the world (note that it is day in some places, night in others)

9 Comments

  • Thank you, Brené. I backdated this (didn’t even know I could do that until today), but i know it took me four days to write. That’s okay – things take the time they take.

    Thank you for the inspiration to approach the experience from this perspective: I am inclined to gratitude, and there is something about a structure that helps focus that.

  • Bless ur sweet bones. OMG! I’ve got tears in my eyes after reading this. Thank you so much for checking in on my blog today. I am humbled by the compliments from a photographer and there were two of you. I’m thinking about joining Tracey Clark’s Best Shot Monday. I’ve been looking for some online community that’s not to to-do-intense. This 30-year journalist is very, very open to critique. I am ready to grow in this area. May you heal. Gratitude…oh, so certainly helps. Oh, it does. Sorry about the trip home….Namaste.

  • Thank you for your lovely comments, Leisa. Having screened one of your autism vlog entries, I could hear your voice saying the words, and I felt soothed and comforted.

    I post photos on Aminus3 – intended to be a daily photo blog, which I did for over six months, and then discovered it felt like WORK to maintain, so took a long hiatus. Now I’ve decided that the way to make it work for ME is to post three times a week. The platform just links forward to the next photo, without showing “blanks” in between, so it still feels seemless.

    And I am enjoying it again. It makes a nice place I can point to when folks ask about my photos. I want to include more portraits there though – people are my favourite subject, but you wouldn’t know it from my portfolio there.

    I will look into Best Shot Monday – that sounds fun.

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