December 21, 2012

Our car got broken

Column from Smithville Review
Mother, Interrupted
By Debra Carpenter 
“Our car got broken”
Last Wednesday, my husband, daughter, and I were rear-ended by a semi. It was incredibly scary and we were so fortunate to have come through without serious injury. After the accident happened and the shock wore off, I realized that even though I had been saying over and over “We are so lucky,” I hadn’t even really thought about how fortunate we were. So many awful things could have happened. As we were waiting on the ambulance to arrive, I held my daughter who was still upset, scared, and in tears. She kept repeating that “Our car got broken.” It made me so sad to see her so scared, but grateful that being scared was the worst of her problems. She is only 2 years old and weighs 30 pounds. She was closest to the impact of the truck going 60 miles per hour that hit directly behind her and totaled our car, but she only suffered a busted lip and several bruises. I wrote a thank-you note to the carseat company, but I know that more than the carseat was responsible for her safety, and we are so thankful for that.

This was the first bad accident I had ever been involved in. I have never been in such a disorienting, scary situation. Even though the accident lasted only a few seconds, it felt like an hour. It seemed like time stopped while our car was pushed forward and spun around after being hooked by the truck. It felt like an eternity passed while I waited for it to stop so I could check my daughter’s legs, which looked like they were being crushed under the weight of my husband and his seat, which had broken and fallen onto her legs. My glasses and shoes (what the heck?) were knocked off from the impact, and that made it even more confusing when the car stopped moving and I tried to get my daughter out of her carseat. As luck would have it, a state trooper happened to be getting gas at the station across the street from our accident and was able to respond immediately. Then, one of my husband’s friends drove by the accident a few minutes later and was able to stop and help keep us calm while we waited for an ambulance.

My point in telling you these things is not to make you feel sorry for me or my family, to upset you, or even to tell a story. I just wanted to share the importance of fully recognizing the blessings in life and reminding yourself often of how precious they are. Things like this accident are not unusual in life, and they always seem unfair. They do serve to remind us not to take our loved ones for granted. We’ve all heard the saying “You don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone,” and I think it’s cliché for a reason. I had been taking my husband and daughter for granted—they were already mine and I felt lucky to have them, but assumed that we were immune to harm. But after the accident, I was forced to look at them as what they really are: people that are vulnerable to accidents and only temporarily around on Earth. It inspired me to try and live in the moment more—taking time to realize the small bits of life that make it so enjoyable. Whether that means reading one more book with my daughter before bed, hugging my husband for a full minute when he gets home, or just listening to the infectious sound of my daughter laughing at our cat, I want to fully experience my life and be able to say that I didn’t take it and the people closest to me for granted. I hope my experience could inspire another person decide to make the most of the limited time on Earth and appreciate their family fully. There’s no better time to hold your family close and enjoy their company than the Christmas season—I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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