totaled. I’m fine.

by ck on February 14, 2012

It was rush hour on 495. The first car cut across traffic toward the exit lane, where traffic was not moving. It went from about 75 mph to a complete stop. It smashed into a second car, which had been slowing down. The second car slammed into the back of a third car, causing it to spin around, and then crashed into the third car’s driver’s side. The third car hit a forth.

A horn was blaring. The first driver’s face was jammed against the steering wheel of his car. His leg was sticking out of the window. He didn’t make it. The second driver was carried away on a gurney. The third driver crawled out through the passenger side of his car and sent me this text:

Totaled. I’m fine.

I stared at it. But it didn’t make sense. A car was hit. It looked like my husband’s car.

“Mama!” sang a voice from my backseat. “Can we go? Can we go? Can we go?” TWO and I were in the parking lot of ONE’s elementary school.

“One second, baby.” I zoomed in on the photo. “I think daddy was in a car accident.” For some reason I didn’t understand what I was looking at.

TWO started to cry. “Is daddy okay?”

“Don’t cry, Sweetie,” I said. “He’s fine, he’s…” It occurred to me that I probably shouldn’t have said anything to her. “Let me just send him a text…”

What happened?

I couldn’t stop staring at the driver’s side door. What was I missing? I called him. It went right to voicemail. TWO was still crying. I could hear my heart, crashing against itself in my ears like waves before a storm. It was a sound I’d heard before, but I couldn’t remember when.

Finally my thoughts swam toward the front of my brain. Everything got bright. The red truck had slammed right into the driver’s side. The door was crushed into where he had been sitting. It should’ve pinned him in. Time caught up. How did he get out? How was he okay?

I started to cry.

At that moment he called and said he was fine. He told me about the other drivers, and how the door of his car had caved in, yet the metal stopped just before touching his leg. How stunned he was to have walked away without even a scratch. Miracles, angels, God. And then he had to go.

I’d woken up stressed that day, having somehow overbooked myself with things to do for the school, our church, my book, and the mother’s day show. But by the time we walked into TWO’s preschool I’d cancelled it all, wondering how it had ever seemed important. I didn’t know what the day would look like now, but I didn’t care. All I could think of was getting to him on 495.

But then he called again, letting me know that a co-worker, who’d been stuck in the accident traffic, stopped and picked him up. He was going to the office to take care of things and would call when he was ready to leave. I felt strangely let down. And jumpy. Even though I knew he was okay, we’d had enough scary separations over the years to know that I wouldn’t be okay until I saw him again.

I started to pace. All the free time in the world ahead of me, yet even though I’d ached for it that morning, I didn’t want it. A little thought started running through my mind. Something a friend had planted in my  head earlier that week. I clung to it while I paced.

Love is…

…how slowly your brain understands something bad

…panic pushed down by a plan, no matter how irrational

…knowing he’s okay

…remembering his face, his arms, his smell

…God answering your morning prayer of bringing everyone in the family home together at the end of the day

…the feeling that washes over you when you receive this text: Are you around? I think I’m probably going to come home. Do u wanna pick me up?

I cried most of the way to his office, vacillating between an emotional pit and the relief I was longing for. The relief that always came after moments like these. The relief that flooded when I heard his keys in our apartment door after he’d gotten away from the men who tried to mug us. Relief that made me laugh as I exited the New York train on 9/12 and saw him waiting for me. Relief as the girls screamed his name just hours after the Discovery hostage situation ended and he was home.

Relief that meant that we were together again.

Relief that reminded me just how much I loved him.

I knew that someday we’d be separated for good. That one of us would get that call, or sit by the other’s side and watch them go. But as I caught sight of him coming toward my car, leaning into the wind, perfect and in one piece, I thanked God that once again that day wasn’t today.






Corinn February 14, 2012 at 8:04 am

CRIKEY CK, It’s valentines day and i’m supposed to be all happy and smiley as i go to play with the kids at my son’s school. I got the email about the post and I read the title and stopped and hopped online. My phone won’t get the pictures so I had a feeling I’d need to see them and went to the pc. I don’t think I breathed once till I finished reading. You are such an amazing writer. I def. laugh at moments but you also make me literally hold my breath.

It’s a God thing and a God thing alone that he made it okay. Couldn’t he have taken a picture that didn’t show the door as if it was all the way into the passenger seat!
Corinn´s last blog post ..Programs!

ck February 15, 2012 at 6:38 am

You are so right about it being a God thing. I was struck all day by His presence and what we were spared.

And YES about the photo! Ahhh, I nearly fainted when I finally understood what I was looking at!

Jessica February 14, 2012 at 8:17 am

Wow. Just wow.

Jen February 14, 2012 at 8:32 am

Sobbing uncontrolably in our bathroom. So glad that your hubby is okay.

Lisa Hill-Corley February 14, 2012 at 8:49 am

Wow, that’s a beautiful piece. I’m so glad your husband is okay.

Steel Magnolia February 14, 2012 at 9:10 am

Have mercy.
Steel Magnolia´s last blog post ..Whose Story is it Anyway?

Angie February 14, 2012 at 9:29 am

Darn you for making me cry while at work! Such a beautiful tale of love, one that we should all be able to embrace. I am thankful to God that your husband is ok and that he will be there with you and the girls tonight. All is right with the world in this perfect moment.

Tara February 14, 2012 at 11:04 am

CK….all I can say is that God is Good! All the Time!!

Praise the lord, I am so thankful that your husband is okay. I am still shaking inside just thinking of how awful that moment must have been. I know that wierd bodily feeling and the sensation of the air rushing in your ears. I am going to give my hubby and extra big squeeze when he gets home tonight!

Tara´s last blog post ..I just need to say this….

ck February 15, 2012 at 6:41 am

God is SO good. I’ve been reflecting on this situation since it occurred (can’t help it) and what I’ve been most struck by is how the things I worry about on a regular basis are never the things that truly count. I never really worried about my family that morning. I prayed for their protection and then went on to stress about much less important things. And yet God took care of what really counted. We’re so blessed that God sees ahead of us.

Gen February 14, 2012 at 11:59 am

Wow. God is so faithful. Psalm 34:7

ck February 15, 2012 at 6:43 am

Thank you for the verse, Gen. It is so true.

“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

mrs.d February 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Oh my! Glad he’s fine! I would have been a nervous wreck till I saw him again too.
mrs.d´s last blog post ..One month in…

Yvonne Moss February 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Grateful that today is not that day either…

Ink February 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Dang, CK, you have made me weep, the way you write about love.

naptimewriting February 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Damn. Had a long cry over that one.

I was in a terrible accident. high speed chase away from the cops ran into me. guy who hit us at 106 miles an hour had his car split in half . the front half with him in it went on a pickup truck with a drunk driver in it
naptimewriting´s last blog post ..Oy. No Vey. Just Oy.

naptimewriting February 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

stupid phone. nevermind . just glad mister bad mommy moments is okay
naptimewriting´s last blog post ..Oy. No Vey. Just Oy.

angie @ seriouslyahomemaker February 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Holy, Crap! This is REALLY, REALLY good writing. I am so glad to have found you via both of us contributing to DumbMom’s “Love Is…” I will be coming back!!!

Seriously, so glad to read this today and I am so glad he is ok! I am a DC area blogger too so the reference to 495 makes this especially close to the heart. I would love to meet you at some event some day somewhere over the rainbow. :-)


Gigi February 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm
Justine February 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I’m in tears. So glad he’s safe! I can’t imagine what you must have gone through. Both of you!

Great storytelling by the way. Just glad it had a happy ending.
Justine´s last blog post ..My dirty little secret

faemom February 15, 2012 at 1:15 am

I’m glad he was fine. You’re such an amazing writer to capture it all.
faemom´s last blog post ..Valentine’s Day Exchanges

Jane February 15, 2012 at 11:16 am

Wow. So, so, so glad everything turned out ok. And the beauty in your writing at such a scary time. Another wow.
Jane´s last blog post ..Valentine’s Day. The Aftermath.

Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri February 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Breathe deeply. Exhale. I am so relieved all is well with your world. xoxo
Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri´s last blog post ..When You Least Expect It

Tiffany February 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I’m so, so glad he’s ok. I say the same prayer too…thank you for this day and please, oh please, let us have another.
Tiffany´s last blog post ..Girls’ Night

Dawn @What's Around the Next Bend? February 15, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I’m sitting here bawling… SOO thankful that your hubby is okay!!!
I, too, ask God every day to please bring my family home safe. I know his guardian angels have their hands full chasing me and my boys around. But I try to remember this verse:
The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:7-8
Dawn @What’s Around the Next Bend?´s last blog post ..Remember when you looked forward to Valentine’s Day?? OR Why Valentine’s Day sucks when your single

Jen @ Momalom February 27, 2012 at 9:57 am

Something brought me here this morning. And now I’ll be thinking of you all day. I know what it’s like to get that call. Sweetie and I have dealt with our own crises of separation–car accidents, health crises. One is too many. And once you can start listing them–as you have–clarity is scary and can be paralyzing. I’m so glad all is OK with you and your family. Love is knowing you’re together.

Previous post:

Next post: