Sunday / October 16 / 2011
I remember everything except the actual crash
As I was sharing a craft beer and ahi tuna with a new friend last week, I found myself relating the story of the accident.
This October 24th will mark 25 years since that fateful afternoon. I remember it like it was yesterday. Every last detail.
Everything except the actual crash.
Up until about a year ago, I called the accident, my accident. I was the driver, afterall, so I held myself responsible by taking ownership of what happened that day.
It’s hard for the heart to follow what the mind knows to be truth.
Now that I’ve been able to process the thoughts, memories, and fears of my 16-year-old self with the mind and experiences of a 40-something-year old woman, I’ve shifted to calling it, the accident.
How freeing just one small word can be.
The leaves are changing, the cooler temps have arrived, and I can’t help but remember that autumn day with vividness. Moving back home has been challenging… living in the place where it all happened. I’d be lying if I said it’s not a struggle.
I still wrestle with the “what ifs” – and the many, many “whys?” I suppose I always will. As much as I’ve been able to let go of many things that have held my heart captive, an ache remains that I fear can never be fully mended.
I remember with precision looking at her. Our eyes locked as I cried out her name in a plea of desperation. But it was as if we were in completely different cars. Different worlds.
Hers, one of electrified excitement, laughter, and fearlessness. Mine, fear-stricken helplessness.
The thrill of adventure yanked control from my grasp without apology, obscuring the terror written across my heart.
Her foot on mine had pushed the accelerator all the way to the floor. Desperate to regain control, I pulled the steering wheel counterclockwise in an attempt to avoid the tree. She, too, saw the tree and wanted to help. Not being directly behind the wheel clearly disoriented her as she inadvertently wrenched the wheel clockwise, undoing my fix.
Later, two separate investigators would estimate we hit the tree somewhere between 100-125 miles per hour.
And just like that, life was changed forever.
Two of my most precious friends. Gone from this life. With nothing to bring them back but the memories in our hearts.
None of the five of us riding in the car that day would ever be the same. Nor would our families, our friends, our community.
We will forever be connected to Dan, to Tina, to one another. There’s a unique connection we all share. A bond that cannot be broken no matter the years or heavens that come between us.
Life is fragile. Embrace each day with fullness.