30 Feet of Concrete
This weekend, I had a wreck. I'm pretty sure I should be dead right now.
Recently, I've had a life change that forced me to move a few states over. So last week I packed up a u-hual trailer, hitched it up to the back of my Dad's F-150 and hit the road. I was a little nervous about pulling a trailer, but I found that as long as I took it slow and made wide turns, it was cake. It was all cake. Nothing should have gone wrong.
I made it to the halfway point in Atlanta, GA. My off ramp was coming up to the left, so I slowly made it across the six lanes of traffic to the far left lane. The truck started shaking, at first, it was slow and I thought maybe the road was a little bumpy. I decided to pull over and take a look any way, just to be safe.
By the time I had made it one lane over, I was in a full earth quake. As stupid as it sounds, in the middle of downtown Atlanta, I was sure I was having my own private earth quake, right there, totally secluded to the F-150. Then, I was sure that the trailer was coming off. I check my rear view, already convinced the trailer would be long gone. But there it was, swinging wildly from one lane to the next behind me.
After that, I wasn't sure of anything, because that trailer took me for a ride. For a moment I felt like a rag doll in a pit's mouth, being jerked and shook and having no control over my fate.
I remember thinking (screaming?) "If some one's going to die, let it be me. Let it be me!" My kids were still sleeping in the back seat, a quick glance had confirmed that. I remember stupidly wondering how they could sleep through this.
I saw the concrete wall and knew I was going to die. I accepted it. It was crazy. I must have had a million thoughts in those few seconds. But I remember being calm and waiting to die, knowing my kids would live. Not sure how I knew, I just knew.
At the last moment, I spun the wheel as hard as I could and hoped the trailer would take the brunt of the impact. And then it was over.
I don't think I even blinked in those few seconds, so I can't say I opened my eyes or woke up, but I...I really looked for the first time in a long time. I looked in the back seat, my daughter's sleepy eyes full of fear, my son, still sleeping. Seeing him still sleeping forced a surge of panic through me. I screamed his name and shook him, his eyes popped open and he was alive. My god, they were alive. My god, was I alive too???
After a few moments, I got out. I smelled gas. I saw the truck was badly damaged and realized that I was not, they were not. The trailer was halfway up the wall, just sitting there, not even damaged and not even lose from the truck. It was a blown tire that had sent me spinning through six lanes of traffic. Jack knife, I would later learn, was what caused me to hit that wall. I would also later learn that that 30 foot concrete wall probably saved my life.
The paramedics arrived and thought it was hilarious to make jokes about how I needed to drive Nascar. How had I wrecked in downtown Atlanta on a Friday night and not hit one single vehicle? All I could do was vomit repeatedly and stay in a continuous state of shock for four hours straight.
My point? I'm not sure. Maybe it's just a normal reaction to believe that you've been given a second chance. Maybe it's a way of coping with the trauma. It's far wiser to just accept that what is done is done, and what happened is just the logical flow of events.
Still, I think I should be dead right now, and I'm not.