Friday, July 16, 2010

Bloody Flashback

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my friend. We had lunch and chatted it up for hours. It was a great time. On the ride home I came up on a traffic jam. One of those bumper to bumper deals. As I sat there wondering if it was an accident I heard a loud thumping noise. I looked up through my sunroof and saw the huge chopper in the sky. It wasn't just any chopper, it was the one that air lifts people to the hospital. It was like time just stood still. A chill ran through me and I felt a twinge in my stomach.

Pretty soon before I knew it we were doing the dangerous car dance of shifting lanes from two down to one. In single file at about 5 miles an hour I could see the back of the tow truck as we crawled down the road. I saw the tow truck driver sweeping car crash debris off of the roadway. And then I saw the worst of it. It was the crumpled car up on the flatbed. I tried to hold back the tears as I stared at the twisted front tire and crunched driver's side front end. The metal was so demolished that it looked liked pieces of frayed wire. I could feel the tears well up in my eyes. All I could see in front of me was Paul's car or rather what was left of it.

I remembered going with my dad to see the car the day after his accident. He didn't want me to go but I had to in a futile attempt to make it seem more real. I could hear the crunching of rocks under my sneakers as I stepped slowly through the dead car cemetary thinking about how it was the last place he was alive. The last place they both took their last breath. The windows were rolled down and I could see his Giant's baseball hat sitting neatly on the passenger seat. As if it was in memoriam. The driver's side seat cradled his brother's hat. My eyes scanned around in an attempt to not really see what was there like the dark crimson blood stains smeared all over the head rest and dashboard on Paul's passenger seat. His light blue denim jacket curled up in a ball on the back seat was stained with the same blood. I carefully pulled out that jacket, grabbed the hat, and put them in a bag where they stayed for 2 years at the bottom of my coat closet. Sometimes in my lonliest moments I would wear it as I cried and wailed while I sat rocking back and forth on my living room floor.

The police said it was the worst accident they had ever seen in all their years on the job in Greenwood Lake, NY. His car the most demolished one in a long time. So much so that a local high school wanted to use it during drunk driving awareness week. Although Paul's accident did not involve alcohol or drugs I agreed to have it put on the lawn to increase awareness in young adults about the dangers of drinking and driving. I searched for any tiny bit of good that could come out of the madness that became my life on that Labor Day in 1994.

It was hard to control those bloody flashbacks for the rest of the ride home. It was almost impossible to hold back the tears. I couldn't help but wonder if there would ever be a day in my life when I wouldn't fall into a black hole from doing a drive by of a car crash . . .


Matt Askaripour said...

You're a very strong person Cathy. It must have taken a lot to get through that, let alone share it. I'm truly happy that you shared this with the rest of the world.

Meliss said...

Your sharing here is powerful. I honor your courage and willingness to open your raw insides. There will probably never be a time when an accident doesn't remind you...although overwhelmingly sad, it's Yours and there is something precious about that. Many people feel only annoyance that an accident interrupted their plans, instead of knowing the hurt the people who are involved are feeling. You know this pain. Empathy is one of our most powerful and treasured abilities. Now, when I see an accident, I will not only think of those involved, but I will think of you and say a prayer.