HCD: We Got Hit by a Car

HCD = Homeschool Challenge of the Day

I joke sometimes that my library hates me. I could say that my HCD is that the library is trying in every way to make my life miserable. First it takes all my money! Now it is trying to kill me and my family!

The feeling is kind of mutual, though, because sometimes I hate my library, too! (I have my reasons. Grrrrrrr.)

But this blog post is less about the library and more about the Holy Ghost.

And yes, I am happy to explain. In fact, I feel it is imperative that I do.

A few weeks ago, with the intent of getting many of my library books back a day before they were due, I piled my children into the car and prepared to make the 20 minute trek.

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I know! I was way on top of things. A whole day early! (I’m not even being sarcastic! I thought I was doing pretty good.)

We didn’t get much farther than a mile from our house, on a highway driving 50 miles an hour, when another driver from the opposing traffic tried to turn left at an intersection and instead crashed right into us. Our momentum sent us into the lanes of oncoming traffic to our right.  And after scraping alongside another car waiting at her red light, we came to a stop. In the rain, in the cold.

I think the library was trying to send me a message.

They just don’t want the likes of me reading their books at all. Even if I do return them on time. Better I just never come back. 😉

That’s actually not my point.

My point is that although we were terrified, traumatized, shaken up, and a little bruised, every person in that van walked out of it without a single scratch. And I know exactly the reason why.

It was the Holy Ghost.

This requires a little backstory. A week or two prior to us getting hit by the car, a friend of mine shared an informational video on Facebook about a mother and her 9 year old son getting in a car accident. The son was cut up, unconscious, and possibly sustained serious internal injuries. (Well, not in real life, just in the video.) The point of the video was that even if you feel your child is old enough, they should still be in a booster until they properly fit in a regular car seat with the regular seatbelt settings.

I never watch those videos because they send me into panic attacks. And I quickly tried to forget this one. I have no idea why I even watched it in the first place. It as obvious the story wasn’t going to end well.

Anyway, the afternoon I planned to go to the library, we all buckled up, I picked up my 1st grader from his 4H engineering class, and we headed off. As soon as I turned onto the highway, the Holy Ghost brought that horrifying video back to my memory. I could see the “accident” all in my head. I turned to my oldest, who sits in the passenger seat right next to me because there is very little room in the car for all of us, and told him to scoot his chair as far back as he could, which he did immediately. The other children asked why and I explained that if there is an accident, airbags are not meant for children, and he would need to be as far away from the airbag as possible.

If there were an accident….” I kept thinking to myself. What if we really did have an accident? What if we did?

The Holy Ghost again sent an uncomfortable feeling of warning into my heart. I wasn’t afraid or panicked. They Holy Ghost doesn’t work that way. But I felt uneasy and like I needed to be on high alert. I said a prayer in my heart, “Please, Father in Heaven, keep us safe and protected. Please protect my children and me from harm.” I had full faith that He would. He always has in the past. Even in the hardest of times, we’ve always been taken care of, and God’s will, whether mine as well or not, has always been done. But the uneasy feeling persisted.

About 5 seconds later, while driving through an intersection, I saw a car coming towards us. I couldn’t swerve to get away in time, I couldn’t speed up or slow down, but I felt moved, again by the Holy Ghost, to swerve ever so slightly to the right. And then immediately before impact, as I held on tight to the steering wheel not knowing what exactly would happen next, almost in disbelief, but still somehow knowing God already knew this would happen and He had heard my prayer, I thought to myself, “It’s happening.”

“It’s happening.”

And then it happened. I don’t think I had time to take a breath. There was a huge shattering and crunching sound at impact as we were all jolted around. I just kept steering, eyes wide, as our momentum hurled us towards the cars that used to be safely stopped at a distant to our right, but now suddenly right in our path. No time to think, just steer and dodge, look as best you can through the airbag (through? past? somehow) so as not to add a head on collision to an accident I knew had already totalled my car.

We had hit so hard.

The Holy Ghost reminded me of my husband’s accident years ago. He had gone into shock. I hadn’t understood (or sympathized very well) back then, but I knew it would happen to me and I tried to fight it long enough to take care of the kids.

Half of them were crying, “What happened!!” “That was a car accident. We were just in a car accident.” And then they all  panicked and started crying because the nightmare had been confirmed and they were lost and vulnerable and didn’t know what to do next.

“What do we do?!!”

“We get out of the car.”

I have never seen children empty out of a car so fast. The older helped the younger unbuckle. My oldest son couldn’t exit his side (due to being crunched next to the other vehicle I didn’t dodge as well as I had tried), but he practically flew across the front and came out my door. I clutched my two-year old into my arms and we got off the road and onto the grass alongside the road.

Now the shock starts to settle in.

What do we do next? What should I do? It’s raining. It’s freezing. All these people are asking me if I need help, if we are ok, if I want my kids to sit in their cars to keep warm. I know they mean well, but I’m not letting go of my children. No way am I letting go of them right now. They need someone strong, and I need to know they are safe.

No, I tell them. We are going to sit inside the fast food restaurant right there and just wait for the police or ambulance or whoever is supposed to come show up and do whatever they are supposed to do. Right now, we just need to get out of the cold and rain…

…and as far away from that van as we can.

*deep breath*

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It is hard to relive that, even though the story is now weeks old.

Not a single scratch.

(Although I did get a painful and strange blood blister on the tip of my finger that still is really sensitive to touch. Ew!)

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What if I hadn’t been warned and been on “high alert” just in case? What if my son hadn’t put his seat all the way back? What if we hadn’t swerved at all? Or if we had swerved too much?

I can tell you what would have happened. But I try to never think of things like that. Because it sends me into a panic. I can hardly bear to imagine.

We most certainly would not have all gone home together that night.

But we did.

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This is the side that slid against the third vehicle in the accident. Not as bad as the other side, but there was definite contact!

The recovery has been very different than I thought it would be. I thought I would need to show the kids some normalcy. So I had them do their schoolwork the next day. My son finally said, “Mom? If we went to public school and had gotten in the accident, would you have made us go to school the next day?”

“No, of course not.”

I got the point. We slowed down. I actually kind of shut down for a few days and stayed in bed as much as I could. The kids kept wanting to talk about it though, so we did. None of us got in a car for a few days. When I did finally get in a car, I could barely handle it and was so relieved when we got back home. Two of my children are still scared to ride in the new/used van we bought. (One little sedan for a family of seven does get a little tricky after a few days.) But we are ok.

Not a single scratch.

God doesn’t protect us from hard and scary things. He knew that accident was going to happen. He probably knew it would happen before we got in the car, before we bought the car, before I even had children. Most likely – well, without a doubt – He knew it would happen before I was even sent to earth and born. He didn’t make it just go away. That isn’t the point of life. We are meant to come here and learn by experience. It is vital that we do. It is one of the greatest purposes of life.

But He does provide a way to warn us, to protect us, and to bless us while we go through our trials and challenges. That is the role of the Holy Ghost. He warns, he teaches, he inspires, he comforts, he brings things back to our remembrance, he guides, and he is our friend and helps us through all of life’s necessary hardships.

I know, relatively speaking, my experience and hardship was very, very mild, although certainly frightening. People get in car accidents every day, right? And I can tell you, I’ve seen pictures of car crashes from my own family that are WAY worse than what we experienced. I get it. Although it was a life or death situation, this was relatively speaking nothing! And things much, much worse than car accidents are happening all over the world every single day. How much pain and suffering! How much trauma and injury! How many broken hearts and broken spirits!

How grateful I am for the Gift of the Holy Ghost! How grateful I am that this same gift is available to everyone. And that even though there are those who will refuse the gift, how grateful I am for people who act as God’s hands on the earth to help bind the broken hearts, and lead others to Christ, who really is the only one who can heal them completely.

I have cried tears of gratitude for that gift and that truth every night since our accident.

And we are healing.

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Here we are all looking out the front window at the two truck that is coming to take away our crunched up van.

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It was kind of cathartic watching it go away.

And I called the library. They renewed my  books for me again even though I had already maxed out all my renewals and some of them were on hold for other library patrons. You know, seeing as we got totally crunched and had no way to return them, anyway.

And just maybe also because I was sobbing fool on the phone when I had to explain to the librarian why my books were about to be overdue.

So the library and I are cool again, too.

At least for now.

I hadn’t planned to teach my children a lesson on the Holy Ghost that day, and even though I’m not grateful for the terrifying experience (and the arduous task of filling out paper after paper for the car insurance), I’m glad that at the end of the day, I still had the chance to teach it.