Thankful, thankful, thankful to be home. We narrowly missed being dead. We headed off early this morning to visit Chelsea in the hospital before the roads turned bad.
We needed a few things at Super Center and did a little shopping before getting Burger King for lunch.
Deciding to eat on the way home so that we could get home while the roads were still decent, we were on our way back to Higginsville, with Chuck driving about sixty miles an hour.
I was just finishing the last bite of my sandwich on the other side of Odessa, on eastbound I-70, when all of a sudden a royal blue hatchback-looking car spun almost 180 degrees in the lane next to us and darted back into our lane, crossing in the direct path of our Taurus.
It happened in an instant, and we had no opportunity to do anything but think, “This is how we die.” I will never forget the look of sheer terror on the woman’s face in the passenger seat immediately before we hit them in the passenger side of their car. They continued off the road, flipping their car and rolling into the grass between I-70 and the outer road.
We were both praising the Lord that we were still alive, though a long way from being safe, as other cars started going off the road all around us. We got out of our car to speak to the highway patrolman (after he finally arrived; my hands were shaking so badly I had a hard time dialing star fifty-five on my cell phone). He told us the people were alive and then said the safest place for us to be was back in our vehicle.
Eventually he came up to ask us to drive to the next on-ramp so that we would be as far away from the highway as possible. Meanwhile Chuck was frantically searching our owner’s manual to find out where in the world our hazard-light switch was. It was no where to be found on our steering column. The manual told us it was above our radio.
The state patrolman eventually caught up with us at the on ramp and told us the investigating trooper would be with us shortly to get our information. He said, “Cars are going off the road right and left, and I have other places to go.”
I still can’t believe we’re alive. Additionally, our car received only minimal damage. The last we heard both occupants of the other car were going to the hospital. One had a gash on their head, and both were in bad shape mentally. That’s understandable. It took me a while to stop shaking, and I wasn’t upside down in the median! It could have been so much worse. Every one of those semis that whizzed by us going at least seventy miles an hour should have received a citation. Even though we were spared sudden death when we hit that car, each semi that roared past us put our hearts up in our throats. We don’t know how we managed to keep from leaving the roadway ourselves or how the whole ordeal didn’t turn into a seventeen-car pileup. I’m not kidding; those cars and semis were driving way too fast for the road conditions.
Update on Chelsea: she’s still not being cleared to come home. Her nephrologist (kidney doctor) came in this morning while we were there and said her kidney numbers are still not where they need to be. He said she came into the hospital with normally functioning kidneys, but the triple whammy of having the bone infection, the strong antibiotics and the Tylenol/Advil to control her fever did a pretty bad number on her kidneys. Her urine output is pretty good, but the toxin levels in her blood are still concerning.
She is in no pain, but she has had a pretty stressful few days. Now she has a PICC line instead of an IV. She can’t move her head because of the tape on her neck, but she said she’s really not suffering any discomfort other than that.
While the nurses came in to clean her up after the orthopedic team came in to examine her tailbone, Chuck and I took that opportunity to run a few errands in Independence.
I was feeling horrible that our daughter was in a sterile, plain hospital room when she should be home basking in the glow of Christmas lights. We brought her back a soft teddy bear with a red snowflake scarf and hat. I told her whenever she feels stressed just to hug her bear and know how much we love her and that we are praying for her.
I told Chuck I wanted to order a poinsettia or something for her room to make it seem more like Christmas in there, but we just got the bear. Who knows, we may be spending Christmas in her hospital room.
Branson may be out of the question this year. That’s okay: we’re all still alive, and even if we have to spend Christmas in a hospital room at least we can all be together.
(December 22, 2013) As far as we can tell this is the only damage our car sustained yesterday in our near brush with death. Truly we are blessed and amazed.
In just one fleeting moment, with no warning whatsoever, at least four people’s lives could have had devastating consequences to a chance encounter on a freeway (that’s just the four people in our cars; that’s not even taking into consideration our children and other family members).
In that one fleeting moment, I was fairly confident there was no way of escaping death. How much does it hurt to die? Would we be killed instantly? Would we die five minutes later while waiting for the ambulance?
Chuck said afterward he was pretty sure that image was going to be replayed over and over again in his mind. Ditto.
I will never forget the absolute horror on the face of that poor woman who was on her way to being flipped upside down in her car at the side of I-70. I know she and I were sharing the same thoughts at that moment: “This is it.” Well, MAYBE we were sharing the same thoughts. I mean, people look at death differently sometimes. I was thinking about the pain of dying. She may have been thinking of her destination in the afterlife. I would have been with the Lord. I don’t know where she would have been.
Whenever someone dies, whether a celebrity or just a regular person that we read about in the newspaper, my son’s first question is always, “Was he a Christian?” That determines everything, doesn’t it? That’s the only thing that’s important. It doesn’t matter how old the person is or how he died. Those elements are secondary and, in essence, they certainly pale in comparison.
I usually tell him, “I don’t know.” Sometimes I add, “I think so.” But sometimes I have to add, “I’ve not seen evidence of any kind of saving faith in his life, and I’ve not ever read where he talked about being in a relationship with Jesus at all, so based on that, probably not.”
Can you truly know the Lord and go on drinking and joking coarsely and using the Lord’s name as a curse word?
Anybody can be baptized. Baptism does not equal salvation. Anybody can go to church every single Sunday (or, as in some people’s case, lots of hit-and-miss Sundays). But you will see a difference in the life of a person who really knows the Lord. He will have a different way of talking, a different way of thinking, a different way of being entertained; he will seem different than others you know. In fact, if you are familiar with the believer (if he is a friend or a family member) one thing you will not have to ask is “Was he a Christian?” His life will speak volumes.
I think yesterday’s episode has ruined Chuck even more for chancing road conditions. It was almost a year ago to the very date when Chuck had a similar scare on icy roads, and on that day it was he who received a gash in his head. (It was on that day that we also lost Chuck’s dad. It was an awful day that will haunt our memory for a very long time. I shudder when I think that Chuck’s mom could have very easily lost both her husband and her firstborn son on the same day. How horrific that would have been.)
The fact is, we can be excellent drivers in snow and ice, but what about everyone else we encounter on the road? Chuck had reduced his speed by ten miles an hour and was driving responsibly; as far as we could tell the roads were wet, but not necessarily slick. The next thing we knew we were being passed by someone in a bigger hurry (or less responsible) than Chuck, and it almost ended in catastrophe.
Actually, it was semi-catastrophic for the other couple. They ended up in the hospital and were pretty badly shaken, but it could have been much, much worse; yesterday could have been the day they met their Maker, and only they know if they were ready to do that. This may have been God’s way of showing them their need for a Savior. He gave them a second chance. Not everyone gets one of those.