I woke up Monday morning feeling similar to a marathon runner at Mile 25 - physically beat, emotionally drained, but full of the adrenalin that comes with knowing the end's in sight. Work has been so intense this summer, especially the last five weeks, and our final project was due for completion on August 29th. We were almost there.
I showered, dressed, left my sleeping son and husband and got in the car to head to our offsite project location. I was listening to NPR's 2nd anniversary coverage of Hurricane Katrina, thinking about whether I'd have time to stop at the bank before work, cursorily going through the motions at the numerous 4-way stop signs on a tree-lined residential street.
At the first major intersection, the traffic on my left did not have a stop sign - a fact that completely left my mind as I pulled directly into the flow and was immediately plowed by an oncoming car. The force of the first impact spun me 180 degrees and I was then hit head on by a service van.
"Are you OK?" asked the girl in the first car who hit me.
"Yes, are you OK?" Why is she so blurry? Why can't I see her - her driver's side window is inches from mine.
"Let's try to pull off the main road."
"OK." I manuevered back onto the cross-street, still wondering why I couldn't see the northbound drivers (no doubt counting their blessings that they had to wait a couple more seconds for their change at Starbucks this morning), who were waving me across the road. Why can't I see? What the hell is going on? I have to look for my insurance card, I have to...oh, my glasses are on the floor.
Our car is totaled. I have totaled a car. The reality of that situation and the red tape that accompanies it have occupied me this past week, but the fact that I'm here to deal with it is a gift and a blessing.
I held it together pretty well at the accident scene - I was the only driver in the triad who actually had my driver's license on me and proof of insurance - until the tow truck came to take my car away and the guy asked me if I needed to get anything out of the car. Pulling Pi's carseat out was what broke me. What if he had been in this car? I was driving in a completely zoned-out, stressed-out state, and it had almost cost me my life - what if I had endangered my child's life as well?
It's hard for me not to beat myself up about this - I just need to make sure that it affects my behavior in a positive way. I have been given an opportunity to spend more time on this earth with the ones I love - I can't squander it any more.