I finished re-doing my hair this past weekend – putting in new braids in preparation for a friend’s wedding. Hopefully, that is the last I will see of pieces of my shattered windshield. My car was officially totaled, by the way. I’ll be needing more than a new windshield now.
There’s so much I could say about the accident, but I’ll try to summarize as I itemize…
Lesson 1: Accidents happen
It was snowing on my way to work two days ago. Traffic was slow. The roads were slick. Reminding myself that my accident happened the day after the snowfall, not the day of, didn’t help. And the fact that I was driving a borrowed car made it worse. The only other time I experienced that kind of anxiety on the road was when I was first learning to drive on the highway. No matter how good of a driver I consider myself to be, and in spite of my defensive driving, accidents happen.
My accident happened. I can’t change that. But I can choose how I respond to the fact. Will I quit driving in the snow altogether? No, I refuse to let fear rule me. There is something to be learnt from accidents and mistakes of the past, and they are a part of who we are, but they do not define us. I am more than the sum total of the unfortunate accidental incidents in my life that result from the mistakes of others. And I am more than the sum total of my own mistakes. Accidents happen, but by God’s grace, neither my mistakes nor the mistakes of others will define me.
Lesson 2: Accidents take time
Even though I had the good sense to know that the aftershocks of the accident would come slowly, stepping out of that car last month, with not a scratch, I actually thought it’d be over in a matter of days. All I had to do was file the police report, contact the insurance agency and get my new car, right? Right! But, that takes time.
My accident was probably over in under 5 minutes but here I am, a month later, still dealing with the ramifications: No car; Glass in my hair; Psychologically affected. All of this stuff is part of the accident experience. There’s no way I could have posted thoughtful reflections on the accident before letting it play itself out.
Lesson 3: Accidents take unexpected things
My GPS, my favorite hand lotion, my car phone charger, a new bottle of windshield wiper fluid…These are some of the things that remained in my car when it was towed and I didn’t have the means to go and collect them in time.
The first one I missed was my hand lotion. It’s a scent that’s no longer on the market and I was using it sparingly to make it last. It’s gone now. Irreplaceable. The wiper fluid I thought about as I was riding in a friend’s car and her windshield got all dirty “Argh, I had a whole bottle in my trunk…” But that’s replaceable. Phone charger…? Well, I won’t need one until I have a car again. GPS 🙁
Even though these items were not ‘involved’, per se, in the accident, losing my car meant losing them as well. Some of them replaceable. Some not. The extent of collateral damage manifests itself in time.
Lesson 4: Accidents remind you that you’re alive
The thought of dying never crossed my mind while the accident was happening. Even now, I really don’t think dying was an option. But my friends’ comments after the fact brought an awareness of the fragility of life. I guess, I could have died. I mean, anytime you get into a car to go on a trip you risk death. In fact, just living itself is risking death. haha. But an accident reminds you how thin the line is and which side of it you’re on.
The shower gel I’d been using ran out a couple of days after my accident and I had to pick a new one from the stack in my bathroom (I love showering and if I indulge in anything, it’s shower gel 🙂 ). I remember thinking to myself, “If I die today, who will get to use my favorite shower gel? Not me! So I might as well use it today.” Yes, there are things that are only for special occasions, like my Sabbath shower gel, but that doesn’t mean my regular shower gel should be whack. I’ll use shower gel I like for every day and extra special shower gel for the Sabbath! Seeing as we’re alive, why not live!?
Lesson 5: There is life after the accident
Inasmuch as I am not defined by my accident, I want to talk, think, write about something other than the accident. On the day of the accident, some friends came to hang out at my apartment in the evening. They hadn’t heard what had happened earlier in the day. I didn’t tell them. I wanted to talk about something else. Let them read it on my blog 😉
Of course my friends should know so that they don’t think I’m just avoiding them when I don’t show up at events because I “don’t have a car” but retelling a story gets old for the narrator or the hearer. I’m obviously still ruminating on the effects of the accident, but I’m done telling that story. I’ve accepted that it happened, I’ve given it a place in my being, now on to living my life.
These are my reflections on a vehicular accident that took place a month ago. There are more traumatizing accidents dating a little farther back that I have yet to parse with the same clarity. But, as I said, accidents take time. And the bigger the accident, the longer the time it takes. Perhaps someday soon I’ll be ready to reflect on those in a blog post.