Sunday, August 15, 2010

Independence Day Miracle

I just submitted the following story to A Cup of Comfort for Christian Women. It is much like the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. I will be submitting it to other publications as well, so I would much appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

It was a typical July morning – sunny and hot with clear, blue skies. My sister Kelly and I, her two sons – Ray, 11, and Devin, 9, and her boyfriend Joe (now her husband) were on our way to Virginia Beach for the July 4th holiday. Kelly was a new driver and really shouldn’t have been driving on an interstate highway, but she was confident, and I trusted that she was up to the task having before seen her prevent accidents with her smart driving skills. We all were excited about going to the beach, because it had been a while for all of us, and Kelly and I especially, needed a mini vacation. I had just started a new job three weeks prior as an office manager for a Baptist church, and while I loved it, it had been a lot more work than I ever could have imagined, and I needed a breather. Kelly was working a demanding job she hated, and was determined to get away, even if just for two days.

We all got packed into Kelly’s small Honda and were ready to go. We stopped off at a McDonald’s to get some breakfast before getting on the highway. As we all shuffled back into the car, I got a very eerie feeling. It was one I’d never felt before, so I dismissed it as paranoia and I thought nothing more of it. I didn’t realize what it was at the time, but I now know that it was God warning me of what was to come. He was telling me that a storm was coming, but he wasn’t going to let me drown.

We had been on the road for about three hours, and Devin, Raymond, and I had just woke up from a nap. Kelly noticed that we were waking up, and looked back at us to tell us that we were had about one more hour to go before we would arrive at the beach. The boys and I got excited and began cheering “One more hour to go,” and that’s when everything happened. Almost immediately after we began cheering, I heard what sounded like Kelly driving over a piece of plastic, and then she started to swerve. It didn’t scare me at first because I’d seen her accidentally drive over curbs without losing control of her car, but this time she was going 70 miles per hour, trying to keep up with the other drivers on the road who were practically running over her. She wasn’t used to going that speed, and she lost control of the car, skidded, and hit four trees just off the shoulder of the road.

I don’t remember crashing, but I must have blacked out for two to three minutes, because the next thing I remember was looking up to a flood of people running to the car trying to help me out. I remember thinking “WHAT is going on, and WHO are these people?” It wasn’t until I saw a man trying to pull open Joe’s door on the passenger side of the car that I realized that we had crashed.

The scene was complete chaos, like something out of a movie. I had blood running all down my face, with sawdust and shards of glass all through my hair, in my blouse, and my skirt –and my nephew Raymond was screaming. His leg had been caught in the front passenger seat where Joe had been sitting. People were trying to get him out and I was trying to calm him down, but he kept screaming. Joe finally realized why Ray was screaming and lifted the seat up, and with the help of several good Samaritans who pried the door open, Joe and Raymond were able to get out. Kelly and Devin had crawled out of the driver’s side seat window, and I, with the help of a man who extended me his arm, got out of the car and was helped to a patch of grass on the side of the road. There was a woman sitting on the ground where I sat with a cooler, and she asked me if I wanted a bottle of water. I told her yes, and drank the water while, she lifted hair out of my eyes, complimenting me on my Shirley Temple curls. As she wiped blood off my face, I looked around and noticed people scrambling everywhere. It literally looked like a crash scene out of a movie, but I still hadn’t realized the gravity of the situation. I called Kelly over to where I was sitting and asked her if I should call someone to pick us up. She gave me a bewildered, confused look, then turned and walked away. The woman helping me turned and kindly said to me, “You’re not going anywhere. You’ve got to go to a hospital!” I realized what she was saying made sense, but I think that I must have been in shock, and just wanted to get off the side of the road. I asked the woman how I was going to get to the hospital and she said that someone had called 911, and that an ambulance was on its way.

At the hospital, it took some time to get all the tests completed, but after about two hours, I was told that I didn’t have a concussion, only bruising and inflammation on the right side of my head, and that would go away in time. As for my family, Kelly had a minor laceration below her chin, Raymond also had a large cut below his chin, as well as a black eye, but thankfully, there was no injury to his leg, which had been caught behind the passenger side seat. Devin was practically untouched with a cut behind his ear. Joe, the only one who sustained a serious injury, had to get glass lodged inside his arm removed and stitched up. Being the stocky bodybuilder that he was, however, he didn’t seem fazed by the procedure. Kelly’s car hit four trees, and except for Joe none of us sustained serious or life-altering injuries.

I thank God for getting us through what was a very traumatic ordeal. It was only through his favor that my family and I were saved that day. In addition to the minor cuts and scrapes on my face I got from the accident, I continue to have sensitivity on the side of my head that has been ruled as mild, non-threatening nerve damage. I also have a scar on my right wrist from a large cut that was not stitched up in the hospital.
After the accident, I was frustrated that the doctors couldn’t do more about my head injury and that they hadn’t bothered to stitch up my wrist. However I am now thankful for these minor nuisances because they remind me that I am child of the most-high God, who through the blood of Jesus Christ I am saved, blessed and highly favored, and meant for great things. Since the accident, I have experienced the death of a parent, unemployment, and broken relationships that have made me want to give up and give in. But because of my scar and the nerve damage that remains, I am reminded that God has brought me through the wreckage – literally, and that as it says in the Philippians 4:13, that I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. And as strange as it might sound, I am thankful to that accident, because it has shown me the true power of God, and strengthened my faith, my resolve and my life.