Thursday, January 13, 2011

Car. Boom. Bonk.

Today you were supposed to read a post about how El Cheapitan built our fantastic rain gutter bookshelves. But that's not going to happen, because Yousuf and I never sat down last night to put that post together. Instead, we spent the evening on the phone with insurance companies after we got into an accident. Let me preface this by saying that we are all FINE - but oh, Sweet Baby Jebus, are we lucky to be here today.

The really crazy thing about the accident was that it happened so fast, and so slow at the same time. We were on our way back from doing groceries, the four of us were in the van. It's been terribly snowy here in Western NY and everyone was driving like a grandma, ourselves included. We were only two blocks away from home when we saw a car in the oncoming lane spin out and into our lane. Yousuf only had enough time to slow down a bit and climb the curb, but we were still hit pretty badly.

My thoughts about last night are so disjointed, and of course it's now the day after and I'm groggy and sore so it's not helping me make any sense of matters. These are some of the weird and random things that have been popping in and out of my brain all day, in between a hundred phone calls and emails to insurance companies and the like:

- We were coming home from the grocery store when we got hit. We tried to do the grocery shopping two days ago, but when we got there Nissa puked and Inara started shivering. So we turned right back around and came home. We thought we'd have better luck last night, but the universe had other ideas. I think it's a message. I think we should just not have to do grocery shopping ever again.

- We had time to see the car coming towards us (Fast. Too fast. Why was he driving that fast? Why wasn't he driving like a grandma? Does he not know about that rule?), but we didn't have the time to do a damn thing about it. That feeling of helplessness, of wide-eyed terror, of knowing what's going to happen - that's something I can't seem to shake.

- I tried to protect the girls. I tried to twist around in my seat and reach out for them, knowing there was nothing I could do. But I did it anyway. The EMT's said that I probably gave myself whiplash because of it. Ouchie.

- I didn't think it was going to be that bad. I actually didn't think it WAS that bad, until I smelled Did you know that airbags smell like gunpowder? We got hit and I turned back to the front and looked down and saw myself covered in white powdery stuff. I looked like I was dusted with icing sugar that smelled like gunpowder. Weird. And then I saw the airbag lying limp against the dashboard.

- I didn't even feel it. Until I felt it. Does that make any sense? I didn't feel the airbag going off, because I felt the impact of the collision. But then after the icing sugar settled, I felt the pressure square in my chest. It happened so fast. All night I kept thinking that I wouldn't have even known if something worse had happened. If my legs got crunched. If something hit me from the outside. Or worse. I would have never known. It would have happened, and it would have been over with in a second and I would never have even known.

- All the glass along the driver's side of the van shattered into thousands of tiny pieces. All over Yousuf. All over Nissa. She didn't even cry, until she heard Inara wailing. Inara started crying because she saw Nissa covered in glass. I can't believe Nissa is fine, save for the cuts on her hands. She was blanketed in glass. The door to her side of the van was so crunched in that we couldn't get to her, and had to pull her out through the window. I thought I was going to die as sat there waiting for Yousuf to get her out. He pulled her out when she was born too, unwrapping the cord from around her tiny neck. There was nobody there to help us on that day either. He's always saving her. I think they have a connection.

- I was so pissed at Nissa for throwing off her mittens right before we got hit. And of course the only place she got hurt was on her fingers. Somehow "I told you so" feels like such an awfully horrible thing to be thinking right now. Mean mommy.

- Yousuf's leg hurts. The dash scrunched down onto his shin. We have decided that shins are the most useless body part ever. They give you splints, they're not protected by muscle or fat, they're utterly exposed to flying implements of death and they are just stupid. Yousuf's shin is very messed up.

-I am stunned and awed by the kindness of strangers. A retired fireman was driving by and stopped immediately to check on us. The woman who owned the house across the street ushered the girls and I inside so that we could get out of the cold. Six emergency vehicles responded to the scene as soon as they heard children were involved.

- When it was all over and done with, a firefighter asked me if I had someone to call to drive us home. That is when I lost it. I didn't have anyone to call. Our families don't live here. I felt utterly alone. That couldn't have been farther from the truth. All night long and even this morning, we've had friends calling us. Stopping by to bring us cookies. Lovingly chastising us for not calling them last night. Maybe we've finally found a place to call home after all.

- Inara keeps asking why we got hit. Why did that man hit us? Why would he crash into us? Why would someone do such a thing? Am I safe now, Mama? Are we safe in our van? I don't know, baby. I just don't know.

- Everybody had dreams about the crash. Inara dreamt about cars spinning. Yousuf dreamt that our van got fixed but when he went to go open the door, it fell off. Issie slept fitfully, periodically wringing her hands and saying, "Car. Boom. Bonk". Boom is the sound she heard, bonk is what she calls boo-boos. I dreamt of boardgames. Hey, I'm just happy to be here, folks.

- I really wanted Yousuf to sit down somewhere last night, instead of hobbling around on his gimpy leg. But all of a sudden I saw him limping to the back of the van. A firefighter asked him if there was something valuable in the back. And he said, "I just spent TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS on groceries. I am not leaving them behind!!!" So then El Cheapitan and the poor firefighters formed a human chain and schlepped our brussels sprouts and bread and pasta out of the car. It's good to know that even under pressure, some people remain the same.

- We unpacked the groceries after we put the girls to bed. There was shattered glass in every bag. After a while it became surreal to pull out glass with the groceries. Milk and glass. Carrots and glass. Crackers and glass.

We are bumped and bruised and shell shocked, but we are okay. We will probably need a new van. El Cheapitan is not pleased. He did everything right last night, but you just can't control other drivers or the weather or slippery patches in the road. It could have happened to anyone. It could have been so much worse. There was a huge snow plow truck right behind the car that hit us. How's that for irony? On the other hand, we could have hit that snow plow and I would not be here writing this post.

I know that there are so many worse things that can happen to people. I feel like a chump complaining about this, when there are natural disasters happening abroad and senseless violence occurring here at home. But I can't shake the feeling that we escaped something really bad last night. Even the EMT's were surprised that we were relatively unhurt. I was told not to look at the van because it "looked a lot worse than you're feeling right now". I looked anyway. We are so lucky to be here. I'm so lucky that my girls are here, still yelling at me for more snacks and TV time. I'm kidding, but I'm not. We are so damn lucky.

My friend wrote to me this morning and said that she believes that the world is perfectly balanced, Yin and Yang. She told me to put on my happy shoes because she knows that we have a mega dose of goodness coming our way.

God, I hope she's right.
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