The day that changed my life forever

WARNING- some pictures are graphic and may not be suitable for all.

I've struggled and debated writing this post for about a month now. I knew this day was right around the corner and just couldn't decide if I wanted to put myself completely out there so publicly. But then I thought if I can touch the life of someone out there or influence someone in a positive way, then why not share my story?

It was five years ago today. I was driving home from hanging out with friends after work around 3AM (I worked at a local TV station at the time and worked until 11PM, so 3AM was usually bed time for me). I was approaching a green light with a green arrow and proceeded to go through the light when this happened...



THIS NEXT PICTURE IS GRAPHIC AS IT CONTAINS BLOOD. IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH, PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE READING OR SCROLL PAST THE PICTURE.

             

All I remember was hearing a loud noise and my car sliding across the street and screaming as my face hit the airbag of my steering wheel. I swear it happened in slow motion. I got out of the car to find the driver of the other vehicle, a motorcycle, laying on my windshield head down. Naturally panicking, I screamed across the street to a woman who had pulled over to call 911. I somehow managed to call my parents after 3 failed attempts of shaking trying to dial their number. Waiting for EMS and my parents to arrive seemed like an eternity. I stood there, holding onto and praying for the driver of the other vehicle who was lying there because... well, what else was I supposed to do?

After 3 police cars, 3 ambulances and 1 firetruck arrived the rest was a blur. I just remember crying my eyes out, panicking about the other driver.

I'm not going to share too much as I'm in the process of finishing up a book on my experience, but what I can say is that hours after the accident I was told that the other driver passed away on the scene (which they can't officially announce until further evaluation). I have no words for hearing this news as I was the last person to be with them in their final minutes of life. It's an impossible emotion to describe. That's when the depression started to sink in. I was angry the other driver passed and I hadn't- why did I have to live with this?

Not too long after the accident, we found out the driver of the motorcycle was drunk with a very high BAC. I remember reading articles on the local newspaper's website where people were commenting saying "oh, she was drunk" based on the fact I was 21, or worse, "she killed the other driver." First things first, for those that know me know that I hardly ever drink- if I do, it's a rare occasion. Words hurt, people. Don't jump to assumptions and go spreading rumors.

After court and months of counseling I'm still horribly afraid of motorcycles on the road. If I'm near one I begin to panic and let them pass. I'm also the most cautious driver and can't handle seeing other motorcycle accidents and get nervous every time I'm the passenger in someone else's vehicle. Every now and then I have nightmares and flashbacks from that night. I still don't know why this happened to me or why I survived, but I can say that it's only by the grace of God I'm here today. Whatever the purpose was, I'm still trying to figure that out, but I'm so thankful I was given another chance at life.


In the midst of counseling, the verse above, which I honestly didn't know existed at the time, spoke to me- my christian counselor got chills when I told her I heard these words being spoken to me as I was holding the other driver against my car. It influences me so much that I customized a bracelet I wear every single day with the first part "Fear Not for I am with You" engraved on the front with the other driver's initials and date of the accident on the back. The scripture is nearly impossible to make out after the last five years of wear and tear but I know it's there. Also, I'm not showing a picture of the back in respect for the other person's family. UPDATE 2016- since this post I've replaced my initial bracelet with one that has the date of the accident engraved on the front.



I've been to the other driver's grave sight after their funeral and on the 1 year anniversary of the accident out of respect. People ask me "why would you do that when they were in the wrong?" My response is always along the lines of I was the last person to see this other person alive and held onto them while they passed away. In some indescribable way I felt a connection to that other person and unless you go through something like that you can never understand.

Please think before you get in your vehicle if you've been drinking. Not only are you risking your life but you're risking the lives of other innocent drivers.

10 comments

  1. This is beautiful and heartwrenching at the same time. Accidents are horrible. I can't imagine everything you are going through and have been through. It was so brave of you to share this post. I think it's beautiful of you to keep this person's memory alive daily with your necklace.

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    1. Thank you so much Sarah! Your words are so kind <3

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  2. Really great post! I was in a wreck a little over a year ago, I hydroplaned, spun out of control, flipped 3 times, and landed upside down hanging by my seat belt. It was the scariest thing I've ever been through in my life, and it is definitely by the Grace of God that I didn't hit another car or get much more hurt than I was. I understand your fear of driving around motorcycles to a tee. I cannot or will not drive on that same highway when it is raining, if I even think about it I get dizzy and remember the whole wreck. I can't imagine how you feel especially after having close contact with the other driver and then them passing away. I pray that you continue to heal emotionally. Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. Thank you so much Anna! I'm so sorry for what you had to go through. It almost doesn't feel real, does it? You hear about these stories but you never think something like that could happen to you. I pray that you heal emotionally as well. I'm here if you ever want to talk about it!

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  3. Michelle, I can't tell you how touched I am by this story and your courage in sharing it. Thank you. I am so encouraged by the way you've allowed a dark and tragic moment to declare God's glory and goodness-- a challenge for so many of us! Lots of love <3

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    1. Thank you so much, Daisy! It was hard sharing this as only a few friends and close family knows about this. Lots of love to you as well <3

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  4. Oh my word...this is so heart wrenching. Michelle, you are so brave. And you are so bold. I cannot imagine the horrors of that night. I pray that God will continue to touch you and that you can feel his presence!

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    1. Thank you so much, Megan! I sure don't feel brave... I've struggled to share this so publicly for years. I'm so glad I was able to- it's all about helping others and hopefully I'll change the mind of someone out there. Thanks for reading :) xo

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  5. This is beautifully written! So often you hear of a drunk driver killing a sober person, and not the other way around. I think that is why it is difficult for people to wrap their head around the way you honor their death. Thank you for sharing this with us, and I hope that you can get through this day.

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    1. Thank you so much Raewyn for the kind words! You're so sweet :)

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