Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Second Lease on Life

December 17, 2008: It was a Wednesday. It supposed to be a good day for me.

I was so ecstatic to drive 30 miles [or so] to Sanford for contract signing and work briefing for the [very] first job I was accepted for since I came here in the United States. Being a bum and jobless stay-at-home wife for almost 2 years, it meant so much to me. Hubby missed work just to go with me to Sanford because he was worried about the road condition. We had a snow storm the night before and roads were really shitty bad. It was my first winter driving and I had no idea what slushy road meant much less how it felt like behind the wheel. But I got to do what I had to. I need to learn how to drive in winter roads.

Maine is very beautiful in winter time. It is picture perfect especially after a snow storm. It is like a life-size greeting card with me on it all bundle up. But beyond that beauty lays a treacherous road that I was not so familiar with. Black Ice season is totally unheard of from where I came from. I am so used to dusty roads which sometimes caused zero visibility and frying-pan-hot pavements in 80 degrees tropical backdrop. But that's all about it. Road accidents are usually caused by crazy motorists and not because of bad road conditions [or maybe on some isolated cases].

It already stopped snowing and the sun started to show up when I hit the road. But the roads were still covered with white powdery snow flakes that made it impossible for me to see the yellow lines in the middle of the road. It made it tough for me to know where the road ends and where the ditch begins. It made it hard for me to realize too that the plummeting temperature made the road slushy and icy. Needless to say, the snow storm made the road’s condition even worse because we still have not gotten over yet with the ice storm that caused statewide power outages the week before.

Everything happened so fast. I drove back home after I signed the contract and stopped a couple of times at the stores to do the rest of my Christmas shopping. I hit the road back on right after without any hint of the fate we were about to have in the next couple of miles ahead. I had no clue that I was driving right on the ditch until Hubby alarmed me. I didn’t know the difference because the road was all covered in white and I didn’t know how it feels like when the tires are spinning. When I went back on the road, the tires started to spin and as I stirred the wheel the car slid sideways going to the opposite lane. My mind, my hands and my foot seemed to be uncoordinated and my heart started to sink. At that moment I knew deep inside where we were heading. Hubby was hollering about something that I can’t figure out or maybe I was already totally disoriented because the stirring wheel seemed to have a mind of its own. Next thing I knew Hubby grabbed the stirring wheel trying to straighten it up so I let it go while my foot jammed on the break. There was indeed nothing we both could do to get the car back on the right side of the road. My poor car went straight to the ditch on the other side of the road and hit the huge pine tree head on. My heart stopped. My right knee felt as if someone hit it with a hammer. My hands were numbed but shaking. My whole body was trembling. Tears came running down my checks. I was totally scared and I just shut my eyes and sobbed.

But there was something wrong. There was one thing that definitely wrong. I didn’t hear anything… not even the sound of the crash or the impact of the car hitting that big pine tree. I know I was screaming… "Oh, God! Oh, God! No! No!" But that… I didn’t even seem to hear too. I knew I was crying but not because I was hurt. I was crying because I was seeing in my mind that Hubby was pinned down on the passenger’s seat covered with blood and motionless. I saw that image in my mind for a couple of minutes. Then I started to gain my hearing back. I started to hear the squeaking sound of the branches of the trees as the briskly wind blew hard. I started to feel cold. And I started to open my eyes to see what had just happened. I looked on the passenger’s seat. It was empty. The door was open and Hubby was not there. I shut my eyes again and sobbed harder. I could hear myself screaming and sobbing all at the same time. Next thing I knew, Hubby was on my side. He managed to get out of the car… went to my side… opened my door… and checked on me. He was hugging me and asking me if I was alright... if I was hurt. I opened my eyes. Having realized what was really going on at that very instant, I sobbed harder and hugged him so tight... thankful that he was alright.

I cried hard enough that made Hubby more worried than ever. I cried hard because I was so relief that Hubby was by my side alive and hugging me. I cried hard because I was so glad that we were both safe and unharmed.

I managed to get out of the car as soon as I got the strength to pull myself out of the driver’s seat. It was freezing cold but I could taste the saltiness of my perspiration [or was it my tears]. Hubby already called 911 and our insurance agent but still I couldn’t believe that he was standing beside me with his free arm wrapped around my cold body. At that particular instant all I was thinking was… how blessed we are to have survived such mishap.

Indeed, God is good for sending us his angels to protect us. I was so thankful for all those people who stopped offering us help and assistance. And I am grateful that I was given a second chance to appreciate how fragile life is.


Jade said...

Oh my gosh Ruthi. Sorry I have not been here earlier....I just wanna say I am glad you and your hubby are okay.

Goodluck on recovering and wish you both the best on the new year.


Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

Oh what a close call. Good thing you at least didn't hit anyone else. Winter driving can be very treacherous, especially right after it snows and when there is ice. All you really can do is go slow and do NOT slam on the breaks. Be careful.

Elizabeth said...

i always get to watch the "black ice thing" on Most Amazing Video, so I saw how it happens. It's always a cause of accidents! God was really with you to see you through that accident. Be careful always, Ruthi! Happy and safe new year to you and hubby!

betchai said...

Ruthi, I am so glad you are sound and safe, and so is your hubby. Hope your recovery will be fast, but I admire you a lot for braving it after the accident, and you are back on the roads now in the driver's seat, that's it girlfriend, I am so proud of you.

know what Ruthi? when I had that similar accident to yours, I was all alone by myself, I could not cry, I was numb, later the police car/firetruck/emergency truck whatever you call it, interviewed me and i could not say anything, i was just staring at what happened, so shock, yet thankful that i was still alive despite the car being totally crushed. when i got home, i was not able to sleep, the next morning, i went to school, i did not know i have not taken shower ( really, i could not think, my mind just went blank), and it is when my students ask me if it is me who smells like a firecracker, i finally realized i did not do anything after that incident. i just went home, went to bed, but did not like down but just sit there stare into space, no one to talk to, could not cry, until it was morning, and my academic director called if i am okay, and told him i am and could go to work, only to find out when he picked me up i have not changed at all :)) it was when my students asked me that i finally was able to cry, realized what had happened, and when i said yes, they guessed i have been in a car accident since that is the smell of the air bag in me. so, they were my comforters.

Ruthi said...

@ jade... thanks girlfriend for wishing me the best of this new year ahead. i really need that especially at this time when things are not really that well. You take care too.

Ruthi said...

@ Karen... Yes indeed. it was really a close call. And we were really glad that we were the only people on the road that time or else something worse could have happened. God is really good.

Ruthi said...

@ Beth... oh my friend... now i really know how dangerous black ice is. i have been hearing about it in the news all the time but only when the accident happened i only realized what they meant. i hate winter now. i can't blame why americans hate winter. i can now relate.

Ruthi said...

@ Bethai... oh my friend... thank you very much for such comforting words. and thank you very much for sharing your personal experience with me about your accident. i know it was not that easy to relive that bad experience again. But i admire you for doing so because i know you want me to feel better after the accident. and yes you did a good job on that. it helped a lot to know that i was not alone that i am also blessed like you. I really appreciate it my friend. thanks a bunch. Take care.


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