Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Believe...There Are...Angels Among Us

In the midst of school shootings, murders, kidnappings and millions of people wondering, "What is this world coming to?"...there is still goodness. There are still caring people in this world. There are still people who live by the Golden Rule. Amazing angels...walking around on earth.

I met some of these people Sunday afternoon.

Bek, Ryleigh and I were coming home from Salt Lake, when around 3 pm, one of my very worst nightmares happened. We had just driven into a bit of a snow storm, not much at all, at that point, but we slowed down to 45 mph. As we came around a bend on an overpass, our minivan began to fishtail. Before I could even blink, we began to slide across all three lanes of traffic and spin. I had just enough time to scream, what I think was something similar to "HOLD ON RYLEIGH!!", when we slammed into the cement barricade, on the entire passenger side of the van, facing backwards. We bounced off, spun around again, now facing the correct way and then gently glided off the road, hugging the inside cement barrier as close as we possibly could have, without touching it.

Now, the funny thing is, ( any of this was funny), that when we impacted with the wall, it killed the engine. Dead. The van was not running from that point on. We "should" have finished our ride of terror in the fast lane. We "should" have been in the direct path of cars coming around the bend. We "should" have been in terrible danger. But...we weren't. "Someone" or "something" pushed the van, gently, into the small breakdown lane on the left side of the road.

Things that make you go, "hmmmm". (And whisper prayers of thanks.)

When I realized we had stopped, I turned around to see the back window and the back passenger window completely gone. A new pillow we had just purchased was laying on the highway about 50 feet behind us and one of the booster seats we had in the van was laying in the middle lane, along with a small part of the van. I focused on Ryleigh, her eyes wide and staring, as she began to panic. She started clawing at her seatbelt and yelling, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!". Somehow, my mommy brain shut off, my wanna-be-nurse brain turned on and I calmly told her to look in my eyes and breathe with me. "In through your nose...blow out through your mouth. In through your nose...blow out through your mouth..." Her panic attack subsided and I called Josh while Bek called 911. I told Ry to stay buckled, until police were able to get there. Bek and I quickly realized that if another car came around that same bend too quickly, they too would slide...and collide with us.

For the next twenty minutes, we watched every single car come around and held our breaths...until they passed. One SUV did begin to fishtail about 30 feet from us, but as we gasped and began to brace ourselves, they were able to gain control again and pass on by. Finally, patrol arrived, parking behind us to protect us, and he checked to make sure we were okay. He took one look at the van and said, " aren't going to be able to drive this." We sat another what felt like forever 15-20 minutes waiting on the tow truck, while I made calls to update Josh and call my brother to sit with our kids. I didn't want the kids at home to know what had happened, until I could be home to tell them in person, so Josh lied to them about why he was leaving. Yes...sometimes little white lies are to a parent's benefit.

When the tow truck finally arrived, we were instructed that one person would need to ride with the tow man and two could go in the police car. I immediately grabbed Ry from the van and we ran to the police car, with me scared to death that someone would hit her in the meantime. I quickly shot these two pictures of the van, before I shut my door. I wish I had a picture showing all of the damage, but this was all I could get:

We impacted on that cement wall, but facing the other way, then bounced off, flipped facing the appropriate way again and were "pushed" out of the lane of traffic to where you see it here.
As he pulled the van up on the towing deck, the rear tires began bowing out.

Ryleigh's door would barely open and the entire passenger side was smashed.

I told Ry that this better be the last time I see her in the back of a police car. :)

Because we live out of the county from where we had the accident, we couldn't be driven home. We were dropped off at Dee's on Redwood Road, where we would have to wait for Josh to make the long, snowy commute in to get us. The staff at Dee's saw the cops drop us off, as well as our van, so they knew immediately what had happend. Our waiter, who I'm sad to say that I didn't get his name, was the most amazing man. He sat us at a very large booth, and gave us as much time as we needed to make phone calls and calm down. We ordered some hot chocolate and Ry wanted a piece of pie. He quickly brought everything out to us and was so very sweet with Ryleigh, bringing her lollipops and checking on her constantly.

I realized that Ry had seatbelt marks on her neck, the underside of her chin and on her chest. She kept saying that her back hurt and it hurt to breath, so I took her in the bathroom and discovered a 4 inch by 2 inch abraison on her back, on the right side. Neither Bek, nor I, had any markings at this point, except a large bump on my head, from where it hit the window or the door jam, when we impacted. It had immediately given me a really bad headache, but the longer we sat, the more sore I got. My shoulder, neck and back on my right side, began to ache...and then throb.

After an hour and a half, Josh arrived and our amazing waiter showed up at our table with a boxed piece of pie (which we discovered later was actually a fourth of a pie!) for Ryleigh and told us that a customer had taken care of our bill for us. I was so touched. Bek and I assume that it was the man, eating alone on a barstool, who kept watching us, that did it. To you, nameless angel, I thank you. May you know what an amazing person you are. To our waiter, I wish I caught your name so that I could tell your manager what a wonderful employee and special person you are.

Josh drove us to Pioneer Valley Hospital, where we were quickly taken care of, by the emergency room staff. Bek and I had high blood pressure upon exam, something that didn't shock either of us. We had been able to keep calm for Ryleigh's sake, but we were both teetering on the edge of a breakdown. Ryleigh was x-rayed to check her ribs, and found to be okay. Minus some muscle strain and abraisons, she walked away clean. Bek was xrayed to check her back and hips, and was also found intact. She walked away with strained muscles, contusions, pain medication and a muscle relaxer. I almost cried when the doc checked range of motion in my right arm and my back was extremely tender to the touch. I was xrayed to check my right shoulder and back.  Like everyone else...I was found to be okay. I walked away with the same as Bek.

We made our way to a nearby 24 hour Walgreens and after standing in line with what appeared to be the entire county, we left with our prescriptions. I knew we were facing a long and arduous ride home and I was terrified. The snow was coming down so fast, that the snow plows could not keep up. We contemplated staying in Salt Lake for the night, but I couldn't ask my brother to stay with my kids that long and I. Just. Wanted. To. Be. Home. I knew I wouldn't feel safe again, until I was standing in my own house.

A drive that normally takes 40 minutes took us almost two hours that night. The roads were a mess and idiotic drivers were in abundance. I was sure that we would get in another accident, but I tried to remain calm for Ryleigh's sake. She held my hand the entire way home and together, we watched the road and the blizzard around us. Every little slip and every little crunching noise of ice on the road, made us gasp in fright. I finally began chanting in my head, "We are safe and protected. We are safe and protected. We are safe and protected." For over an hour, this prayer was playing within me, as we finished our commute.

I have never been so happy, in my life, to walk into my home. I was safe. My family was with me. We would solve the problem of the van the next day. I could breath. As I tucked Ry in that night I whispered to her, "Thank you for being my brave girl today." She whispered back, "Thank you for calming me down." 

Now, four days later finds me still with a bump on my head, but that only hurts when I touch it. My back is still very sore, but I have noticeable improvement. I spent the first 24 hours asleep and since then, I have been extremely fatigued. Ry went back to school on Wednesday and did attempt gymnastics tonight, but had to limit her activity. Bek has an awesome bruise on her knee from colliding with the dash and her neck is still bothering her a bit.

Overall? We. Were. So. Lucky.

I'm so thankful for the friends and family that called us, texted us and stopped by to check on us. I'm thankful for those that brought us dinners. I'm thankful for Josh and all his help these last few days, as I've been down and out. I'm thankful that no other cars were involved and that we all walked away from what could have been a life-altering accident.

I'm thankful for the angels that we encountered, on a dreary, snowy day.
I'm thankful for the angels I saw...and the ones I didn't.

"They wear so many faces, show up in the strangest places,
Grace us with thier our time of need...
I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us, from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me, in our darkest hours.
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give,
to guide us with the light of love."


Andrea said...

Whoa. What a story! How terrifying for the three of you - but how amazing for those angels that helped you through this experience.

So glad you are okay. My life would not be the same if you weren't.


DizzyMamma said...

Wow!!! I have been off the blogs for a while and last time I checked was the day before this post!

So pleased you are all ok, and that someone up there was keeping an eye out for you guys!