One Sunday morning, my family and I were driving home from church. We lived on back-country, two-lane roads that meandered around hills and through a dense forest. As we turned a corner going 45 mph, another car swerved into our lane and hit us head-on. My sister and I had both fallen asleep in the back seat. The last thing I remember was my parents talking about the football game that was on that day. Then the next thing; I awoke with a ringing in my ears and everything in my vision appearing yellow. My parents were frantically asking if we were ok. Trying to exit the car, I pulled the handle to open my door but it was melted shut. My sister told me to come with her and we slid out on her side and moved away from the car with my mom. We laid down on the hill next to the road as we awaited an ambulance. My Dad was still in the car, yelling out to us that he thought he lost his arm. I yelled out that I wished it was a nightmare and we could just wake up, but we remained laying there on the side of the hill. I couldn’t believe it was real. After what seemed like an eternity, an ambulance drove up and the rest was a blur. I have flashes of memories; the roar of the helicopter and the cold wind from the propellers making me shiver uncontrollably, the EMTs telling me to stay awake, the nurses trying to insert a catheter (you never forget that…) and then yelling at them that I don’t have to pee anymore!
The rest of my family was taken to a separate hospital. They were all alive, but I didn’t know in what state they were all in. After multiple CT scans, MRIs, X-Rays, being poked and prodded in every orifice, and buzzing the nurse every ten minutes; I was finally allowed to take off my neck-brace. I was OK. Some internal lacerations had caused me to swell up, making the EMTs nervous which is why they put me on the helicopter. My sister was flown over later that afternoon. She had a ruptured spleen and a broken sternum. My mom had serious bruising and a concussion that wasn’t diagnosed until after she had already been discharged. My Dad had broken his arm in half and shattered his “good” knee. Doctors were sure he wouldn’t run again…(but he still runs today!)
After a few days we were all finally home. We set up the basement with my dad’s hospital bed, and all of the things he needed to have right next to him. Our friends, church members, and family sent cards, care-packages, and more casseroles than you can ever imagine. We spent every waking minute together after that. Some of my most cherished memories are watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? in the basement until late at night with the security of my entire family around. To this day, we are closer because of that accident.
I have never written about the accident, and have only recounted it in detail a few times because it still makes me sick to my stomach. The fact that any one of us could have easily died that day, affirms my belief that God was right there with us.
Now… what does any of this have to do with the Military Brat Blog? Perhaps nothing. But it has everything to do with Thanksgiving. The accident happened in November of 2004. It was the most thankful any of us have ever been at Thanksgiving and we didn’t have a fancy dinner, or dress up really nice. We most certainly did not go black Friday shopping. We wore our sweat pants that didn’t rub against our bruises and we ate the food brought to us by our church. We gave thanks for being alive and we really meant it. We gave thanks for each member of our family, and for the people that helped us through that difficult time.
It should not take an event like this to open your eyes to how lucky you are. My prayers go out this Thanksgiving to those who are ill or in a difficult life situation. If you are holding a grudge, drop it. If you are lonely, call someone. Be thankful that you are alive and you have the future ahead of you. I urge you to really spend time as a family, and do it without distractions like Facebook and Instagram.
For my military friends-- because of that accident, my Dad was never able to be deployed. It’s something my sister,mom and I weren’t particularly sad about to be honest. But it is definitely something my dad has always wished he could have done in his career. Our family members signed up to be in the military to make a difference, and deployment is an excellent way to do just that. If you have a deployed family member; I hope that, though it might be hard, you can be thankful for their ability and willingness to serve. I hope you will get some time to talk with them over Skype or the phone this holiday season, and thank YOU and them for your service and bravery! This might be a hard holiday season, but please take advantage of the resources and people around you to make it easier on yourself!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!