I keep running last night’s car accident over and over in my mind. My 12-year-old son and I walked away from it, but I can’t get the “would’ve, could’ve” scenario out of my head.
We were driving home from his basketball game and the late afternoon mist had turned to a light, snowy slush. Highway 30 was completely fine, but when I turned north from Calamus onto a paved, county road, the car slipped around the turn. Nothing terrible, just a slight skid, but it was enough to remind me to go the speed limit. In hindsight, even 55 was too fast for the conditions.
My son and I were talking about, of all things, dental hygiene as he dug into the stash of “flossers” I keep in my car’s center console. He’d use one, put it in the garbage and then seconds later, pull out another, complaining there was still something between his teeth. I told him to pull down the visor and check in the mirror, but when he did so, the mirror didn’t light up. And that’s when it happened.
Just as I was about to reach over and check if there was a switch on the mirror I felt the car drift into the slush in the middle of the empty road. I took my foot off the gas and applied the break. Feeling how hard we started sliding, I knew the car wasn’t coming out of this so I stopped breaking and tried to steer into the slide, hoping I could keep it on the road long enough to slow down.
When I felt us hit the left shoulder, the backend of the car whipped around and that’s when I threw my arm across my son’s chest and believed the car would start rolling. I thought I told KidBoy, “Hang on,” or “Get ready,” but he said all I kept repeating was “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod” until we stopped. What I remember thinking was, “Please let him be ok. Please don’t let him get crunched. Please don’t let a fence post come through his window. Please! Please! Please!”
Melodramatic? Well, it’s been many years since I’ve been in a car accident, thankfully. During those events, the one thing I always remembered was worrying about myself, hoping I’d live, hoping I wouldn’t be injured. Until last night I’d never been in an accident with another person. Specifically, I’ve never been in an accident with my child. Last night, as the car spun out, sliding backwards down the 12-foot embankment and backending into a culvert before coming to rest at the edge of a field, my son was the only thing I thought about: “Let him be ok. Let him be ok. Let him be ok.” I don’t ever recall feeling so scared in my life, and none of that fear was for myself.
When the car stopped and I realized we were still rightside up, no windows broken, no dashboards crumpled, I asked and he verified that he was ok. EVERYTHING. WAS. OK. As we climbed out of our seats, I dialed my husband who was following with our daughter a couple miles behind us. And soon several vehicles were stopping to see if we needed help.
We were both shaken up, of course, but we were fine. The car stayed firmly on its wheels, never launching off the road and down into the ditch. It was as if some force was pressing down on the car and keeping it right sided.
Once the tow truck and body shop were contacted, we gathered up our stuff and piled into my husband’s truck. And that’s when it hit me, when I realized where I’d crashed. Some people will think it’s weird, but I can’t ignore the coincidence: I crashed in the same area in which a dear friend was killed in a single car crash our senior year of high school.
Was Aaron with my son and I, keeping the car from rolling, making sure we slid backwards down the embankment and not nose diving headfirst into the culvert? I’m apt to think so. I keep remembering how firmly the car felt connected to the earth, how even in my seat, I felt pulled downward. I’m sure there are all sorts of scientific explanations for these sensations, but I’m no fool.
It’s been over 27 years since Aaron’s accident. Today, right now, I’m hearing my son up in his bedroom smack talk with friends over Skype while playing Minecraft. He’s groaning and yelling and giggling and sounding absolutely beautiful. I’m not a religious person, but I believe in the unexplainable. Was there some force, some being, an angel with us on that road last night? In my heart, I know he was . . . thank you Aaron.