On Feb 3 of this year my mom, sister and I were in a car accident. My mom was driving, I was in the passenger seat and my sister was in the back behind the driver's seat (both my sister & I are 26). We'd just left shopping outlets and pulled onto the highway in the lane closest to the median. There were 2 lanes to our right and it was dark. The highway was fenced in and dark--it was 8 at night and no streetlights line the freeway.
I was hooking up the iPod preparing to having a dorky singalong with my sister like we'd had on the way to the outlets, which are 1/2 an hour from the town I live in. Some of my memory is fuzzy and other parts crystal clear of what happened next. My mom made a sound that made me look up, just in time to see a large shadow in front of me. The impact was only a moment and I don't remember anything except what went through my mind during that time. My brain was trying to process what we had hit. I thought it was a pole, a tree, or something that had fallen off a utelity truck--which I knew was impossible since we were doing everything right and the only time we left the road was when my mom pulled the car over. The impact felt like an intense stop on a roller coaster--I didn't feel the seatbelt, I didn't feel the pain in my knee from hitting the dashboard, just a feeling like someone pushed my entire chest. I opened my eyes and saw a shattered windshield that looked like someone had dropped a bowling ball down the center of it. The rearview mirror was gone.
Then my mother started screaming. "Oh, my God! I think I hit a person! I HIT A PERSON!" A man had stepped out from the darkness of the middle lane in front of our car. He had never looked up, didn't try to raise his hands. Just stepped in front of our car.
The three of us immediately pulled our cell phones out to call 9-1-1. In less than two minutes a cop car had pulled onto the median and my sister, who works for the Sheriff's office for our home county, went to meet him. My mom had seen the man when he stepped in front of the car, just a moment, just long enough to brace herself against the wheel because there was no time to swerve and no way to avoid him. My sister was there when the officer checked his pulse, she saw him lying on the ground. I never saw him but the images are in my head just the same.
Most of the details from that night are stuck in my head and replay like a bad record I can't shut off. I remember telling my mom, over and over, "It's not your fault! It's not your fault!" There was nothing else to say and I couldn't get myself to shut up. I remember my mom's shakey, panicked voice when my sister walked back from meeting the office and she asked, "Is he dead?" My sister simple said, "Yes," and my mom's cries changed to "Oh, my God. I killed a person."
My dad had gone to bed and I remember dialing his cell phone and the house until he answered--my sister had called my aunt that lives a few streets over and her pounding on the front door woke him enough to grab the phone. He thought he heard teenagers screaming. Instead, it was me yelling at him in the answering machine to pick up, standing in the middle of the freeway. It was chilling to hear part of it when my played the messages back the next day, before she hit "delete" in the middle of it.
There was glass everywhere--the windshield almost completely shattered. The medics said because my mom and I both wear glasses it probably saved our eyesight, but it took a while to spit the glass out of our mouths. I had to crawl over the middle console to get out because my door was facing the highway, em
I don't remember the actual act of my knee hitting the dashboard, but it hurt afterwards. The effects from that didn't appear for two weeks and I've had it looked at since. They took me into an ambulence so I could take my pants off--there was so much glass in my pants they didn't want me to sit and cut myself. The back of the ambulence was facing the Sheriff's car that pulled up behind us and until they covered the window for modesty's sake, I just looked at the black shape laying on the ground in front of the Sheriff's headlights and the yellow sheet they pulled out to cover him with.
The first two weeks were the worst--it was living hell. I couldn't get away from the screams, I constantly felt the impact in my chest and I was terrified to sleep because I was having nightmares I didn't remember. The accident happened on a Wednesday and I took the next two days off work. That Thursday night my mom & I were watching television and watched CSI, which is a normal show to watch in our house. It turned out to be about a girl who had gotten hit by a car. The only time I had cried was when my dad walked into my hospital room but that night I broke down in what my mom described as "sounds of grief."
I've been to counseling and my sister's going, my mom's counseling hasn't yet worked out (the therapist she had spoken with on the phone forgot to schedule her in after giving my mom an appointment time, so we're currently looking for a new one for her) but this is a tough situation. We haven't lost anyone we know, but we're still grieving. For what? I don't exactly know sometimes. I just know I'm not me anymore, I'm someone else, and I haven't figured out who this new person is yet. I miss the old, happy me, the me I was before the accident. Right now I'm just going through the motions, just fuctioning for the sake of things I have to do instead of enjoying anything. I'm just coping. Week 3 after the accident arrived and I turned numb to a lot of what I was feeling and am still relatively numb to this day.
I've been Googling a lot--his name, reading his obituary, and looking to see if I can find a support group (either online or off) for people with this certain kind of trauma. Most of the grief and trauma support is for people who have lost someone they love and we know very little about this man other than we were there when he decided to end his life, transferring his suffering to us.
So much went right, and I'm trying to focus on the positive more. There was little traffic in a high-traffic area, our car didn't swerve, and the man went over the car instead of into it. We were all wearing our seatbelts and the airbags didn't deploy (the cops said there wasn't enough pressure put on the bumper to set them off, and I'm grateful because it allowed my mom to keep control of the car and to see through her broken windshield enough to find the side of the road). My family is safe but so much has been broken in the process. I haven't forgiven the man for what he did to my family, I'm still so angry at him for not thinking about how he would effect someone else by his actions.