In my family, May 5 is known as “alive day,” because of the time on May 5, 2005, when I had a rollover accident on I-20.
Everything happened in the blink of an eye. In a matter of seconds, before I knew what was happening, my car swerved into the grass median headed quickly toward an eighteen-wheeler in the oncoming lane. “This is the end of my life,” I said out loud to no one as I slammed on the breaks and held on for dear life. I felt the first flip and then came to only to gaze in shock and horror at my car, upside down in the grass, just outside of Manchester, Tennessee.
A seatbelt malfunction the night before meant I wasn’t wearing one. A driver’s side window malfunction allowed me to be hurled from the open window on the downward spiral of the first of four flips onto the asphalt in the oncoming lane. I slid on my back for 50 feet before coming to a complete stop. After regaining consciousness, I promptly stood up and began looking frantically for my bunny, Petey Beans, who had been with me in the car.
As the paramedics loaded me into the helicopter, I asked them to call my dad and tell him I was fine and not to be sad. I was life-flighted to Vanderbilt Hospital and wheeled into Trauma Room 1. A kind nurse started an IV, another x-rayed my ribs and back. A CT technician who looked like Mark Twain reassured me during my head scan. Someone stitched up the gash on my leg while the doctor came to tell me that I had broken 2 ribs, my tailbone and a small part of a vertebra in my back. Shock wore off eventually, and reality hit.
I remember being terrified as I walked around the median looking for Petey Beans, open wounds dripping with blood and embedded with asphalt. I remember saying “this is the end of my life,” before being ejected from the car. I remember asking the people who stopped to help me to please just help me turn my car back over because I wanted to go home and have Cinco de Mayo enchiladas with my dad.
I was discharged from the hospital that night after 7 hours in the ER, with medications for pain and instructions on how to care for my wounds.
Wounds of survival. I still have a scar on my leg that reminds me not to take any part of my life for granted, not even the wounds; and especially not the deeper, more painful emotional wounds that still bleed from time to time as their protective stitches are ripped out by life and circumstance.
Wounds of insecurity, wounds of fear.
Over time, I have learned the art of burying these wounds of life into the wounds of Christ; a baptism, so to speak, of balm and blood. An immersion into a deep grace that not only understands my pain, but takes each wound, molds it into an offering and creates something beautiful from the shards of my life.
My sister kept a shard from my windshield and gifted it to me on a past “alive day,” and I look at it on May 5th with deep gratitude for all that my life has been and will be.
Thanks be to God.