Crashing through May 23

It’s a beautiful day for a drive, with the windows down and the music up. That’s just what Chester and I did. Chester is the name of my Charger. Yes, it has a name. Chester may have been moving a little faster than usual on this spectacular day. Then we approached the infamous intersection where I lost another car 33 years ago (Amber).

It was two days before my wedding, May 23, 1985. I had just left work, my last day until after the honeymoon. I was in a great mood. It wasn’t as nice a day as today. I’m sure the windows were up but so was the music. As I approached the intersection, the light turned green I didn’t slow down, no need to. The oncoming car had been waiting at the red light to turn left. There was no one in front of me or behind me. It seemed like he waited just long enough for me to get there, and then he went. I closed my eyes. The impact was head-on.

I opened my eyes and checked my face in the mirror. I was getting married in two days. Please, no cuts or injuries on my face. There were none. Taking a deep breath, I thanked God that I didn’t appear to be seriously injured. There was a knock on my side window. I opened the window to a woman yelling, “I know CPR!” I responded, “If I stop breathing, I’ll let you know.” I handed her a piece of paper with two phone numbers, my fiancé’s and my mother’s, with strict instructions not to call the second one unless she couldn’t reach anyone at the first number. My mother would have freaked out. Doug would be Mr. Calm, Cool, & Collected. She was able to reach him. Thank you, Lord.

The ambulance arrived. They had some trouble getting my door open. The EMTs asked me lots of questions. Most importantly, what hurts? Just my neck and my hip. And just like that, a man appeared in my backseat to hold my head perfectly still until they could get a backboard. Another EMT said, “I’m going to cut off your stockings.” “But they’re my favorite ones.” “There’s already a hole, and your knee is bleeding.” “I know. I was just kidding.” This EMT does not have a sense of humor.

Lucky for me, the next EMT I met had just the right type of humor for me – the kind that found me funny. And he had the right type of backboard for my contoured seats. Once strapped in, he was ready to lift me out of the car. I groaned saying I knew I should have lost a few pounds before the wedding. He insisted I was as light as a feather. I liked him even more.

He loaded me into an ambulance, let Doug know what hospital we were going to, and off we went. I told him there was one problem. It was too quiet. I didn’t plan on riding in a ambulance very often, so I would like them to use the lights and siren. Mr. Funny EMT yelled to the driver that I wouldn’t be happy until the lights and siren were on. He obliged, and we raced our way to the hospital emergency entrance.

While I was trying to keep a light heart through it all, spending the evening in the ER being poked and probed and expected to pee while lying down was not how this night was supposed to go. It was Doug’s parents’ anniversary. We were going out to dinner with them and the rest of family right after picking up the tuxes for our wedding. What would happen if I wasn’t there to make sure they were right–that no one was wearing pants that were too short or jackets that didn’t close?

Why bring up this memory from 33 years ago? It all worked out fine, no issues with the tuxes. The family didn’t miss us at the dinner. There was no delay in our wedding or honeymoon plans. The truth is I remember it every time I drive through that intersection. I remember knowing I was going to be hit. I remember the impact. I remember Doug standing in front of my car, which was way too close to the driver’s seat I was sitting in. And I remember how God cared for me that day.

Mr. Funny EMT had said to me if I hadn’t been wearing my seatbelt, I would have been launched through the windshield and probably killed. I replied that God had his angels surrounding me that day. My car was destroyed, beyond totaled. I know that God’s plan for me is better than my own, even when it doesn’t seem so. Nothing takes him by surprise, which gives me peace when the circumstances of life jump out of the shadows and try to unnerve me. Remembering that day reminds me of God’s grace, protection, and sovereignty. He is faithful, and I can rest in him no matter what–even a senior citizen deciding not to wait for me to get through a traffic light so that he didn’t miss the early bird special.

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