Friday, October 11, 2013

Fare Thee Well, 4Runner

Thursday, October 10
He's going to be okay.
Andrew was involved in a serious car accident on Thursday night. And while I'm sure it would be best hearing the story from Andrew's perspective, he nominated me for the job. Happily, my ready-to-type fingers accepted the assignment. As imperfect as my writing is, it's my therapy.


A half hour has passed since I've put my four children to bed. Looking at the clock, I silently congratulate myself. It is 8:00 p.m. Not only is my home in total disarray but I have three baskets of clean laundry taunting me. I've neglected that job long enough. Despite my list of to-dos, my spirits are high. I will be able to work on putting my house to bed without interruption. What a gift! On top of that, I am looking forward to watching the tribute episode of Glee memorializing the late Cory Montieth.

"I need to run to the auto-parts store." Andrew's words interrupt my train of thought. His focus has returned to his 4-runner. I mentioned a few posts back that we've grown frustrated with his vehicle as it continues to fail its emission's tests; despite his best efforts.

"What about the garage door?" The inconvenience of a defective garage door is higher on my list of life's inconveniences. "When's that getting fixed?" I should be batting my eyelashes to maximize my attempt to get him to alter Mr. Fix-it's evening plans.

"I'm going to take it in tomorrow to have it inspected again. I need to work on it tonight." I don't remember if we said a proper "goodbye" when he left. I've already zoned out into my world of 'let's make believe that housework is fun'  in an attempt to decompress from my day. Eliza was on 'day two' of having a fever. Even though her tonsils have been removed, her symptoms remind me of strep. The thought of that plague returning frightens me.

It doesn't take long before I am fully invested in Glee. However, instead of reaching for the box of Kleenex, I am grabbing my ringing cell phone. Seeing his name, I am tempted to give him a feigned dose of grief for interrupting my show. Thankfully, I decide not to.


"Ali." The tone in his voice is full of distress. "I think you should know I've been in an accident." My stomach falls to the floor. A flood of emotion erupts inside me; concern, disbelief and gratitude. I am thankful to be hearing his voice. He's okay enough for that. What if this call is coming from inside of an ambulance? It's depressing how quickly your mind jumps to the worst case scenario. I find my first question.

"Are you okay?" His voice cracks as he replies,

"Yes." And then I hear my rock of a husband emotionally collapse. He is crying. I don't have the courage to ask if the accident was his fault. But I have to know,

"Is everyone else okay?" Please God, please.

"Yes." Relief swells inside of me. Next he tells me where he is. Without much warning, he tells me he has to hang up. Immediately, I call our neighbor. Someone needs to be with him. In a matter of minutes, our hero neighbor arrives and I'm running out the door. I have the wherewithal to grab an umbrella as the rain is falling at a steady pace.

I arrive at the gas station parking lot. With the umbrella in hand, I make my way to the sidewalk. Standing next to the busy intersection, one that I frequent on a regular basis, I take in the frightening scene. Opposite of where I am now, is my husband. Standing in the rain, I see him pacing between two smashed up vehicles. His 4-runner, it appears, has been demolished. Debris litters the pavement. The lights of the emergency vehicles emphasizes the strength of the rain that will not relent. Not knowing I am there, I call him. It is clear that I am on the wrong side of the interstate. 

Moments later I am offering him my arms. I hope he can feel my attempt at bravery. If there's an ounce of strength I can give him, I want him to take it. He is shaking but I don't think it's from the rain. I'm no expert, but the man is in shock. Gathering himself in a blanket, we retreat to my car where we start the heater. He begins to explain what happens. But first, there's a knock at the window. It's the paramedic.

"I've checked your husband. His vitals are okay. I will save him a trip in the ambulance if you promise to take him to the e.r." I promise him. Finally, the story.

Having approached the intersection, Andrew comes to a complete stop. His light is red. In a moment, he will be crossing highway 89. It's a busy road, for lack of a better description. Drivers average 50 to 60 mph on it. The light turns green and Andrew begins to make his way through the light. The auto-part store is straight ahead. He's a little more than half-way across the intersection when a woman driving a jeep wrangler pummels into the passenger side of his car, near the backseat where one of our children could have, but thankfully weren't, been sitting.

"I never saw her coming." He says quietly. The force of impact sends his car spinning. The rear of his car then collides with the front of a massive Chevy Silverado (a.k.a a huge truck). The Silverado had been opposite of where Andrew was before he crossed the street. They were waiting for him to pass through so they could turn left.
The second point of impact:
Andrew's car spins and its rear collides with the front of the Silverado 

The woman in the jeep admits to running the red light. Honestly we have no idea, but we can't help but wonder if she'd been texting. Who blatantly runs a red light at 60 mph?

Andrew doesn't remember it happening. What he does remember is feeling confused, overwhelmed and frustrated.

"I couldn't find my glasses!"

They'd been knocked off his face. Finding them, he exits his car only to discover that he's uncomfortable standing. He sits back in his car in an attempt to collect himself. The drivers establish that everyone is 'alright' as the police officer begins sorting out the mess.

As we talk through these events and return to his car to observe the damage, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that it wasn't worse. He is walking, talking and thinking clearly. Finding an empty car seat in the back of his smashed vehicle, we both fight back tears as we imagine what would have happened had  one of our kids been with him. Andrew frequents the auto-part store often and usually has a side-kick or two with him. I am heart sick.

As we wait for the paper work to be processed by the police officer, Andrew begins to decline physically. After talking to the officer we bid farewell to his car and for the hospital. Doug and Teresa are on their way to help. I thank Heavenly Father again for kind neighbor's, caring parents and for the fact that our kids are each sleeping soundly in their beds, blissfully unaware.

What I'll remember most from the e.r. was another person's nightmare. As a nurse evaluated Andrew in triage, I watched through an open window as a woman, probably close to my own age, ran into the arms of a loved one in the waiting room.

The girl sobbed, "He's dead!" I couldn't believe what she was saying. It was like I was watching a scene out of a horror film. I wanted to intrude upon them all and hug her myself, but thankfully remembered my place. As they wheel Andrew into his 'room' we pass the grieving girl and her group of supporters. A few feet away, a paramedic stands alone in the corner crying. He had been involved in her experience in some capacity. I tip my hat to him and everyone else who experience and help people through moments like hers on a regular basis. What a hard, horrible thing.

As for Andrew, I think that he'll remember how painfully awkward the neck brace was the most. He was not a fan.
The blessings on his behalf continued as his x-rays showed no signs of injury as well as the positive results from an ultrasound. Still, he suffers from whiplash and other injuries as he took quite the beating. It was a late night and we were all exhausted, Andrew's kind parents as well, when it was all said and done.

This morning Henry discovered Andrew's neck brace on the kitchen counter.

"What's this?" His curiousity had him smiling. With my three Fleglets seated around the counter, I told them what had happened to their Dad and his *beloved (*I use that term loosely) 4-runner. I was truthful, yet calm, as I explained in terms they'd understand.

"I want you to know that Heavenly Father watched out for your Dad." My sudden tears must be contagious as I can see that Eliza's eyes have suddenly filled with them as well. "Even though his car was hit, he was protected from serious injury." As I'm speaking, Eliza races to her box of crayons and grabs a piece of paper. She is in automatic, "Make my Dad a get well card" mode. It was touching.

Henry, bless his heart, wanted to know everything. He wanted to see photos, talk about air bags and know right away what his Dad's replacement car will be. Henry thought Andrew's 4-runner was the coolest thing ever. Unaffected by the stress we once had to get it to pass safety and emissions, he is the most sad about the total loss of that vehicle.
And as for Miss Lottie, she was just happy to have an extra day with Daddy at home.
Andrew's emotions have steadied; allowing mine to fluctuate. One minute I'll be looking at Andrew and suddenly be overcome. Seeing him standing in our kitchen washing vegetables from our garden and laying on a blanket in the sunshine about did me in today.
In another instance, I'm laying down, desperate for a nap, but sleep is out of reach. I'm heart sick once more as the "what-if" scenarios creep back in.

As I've said already, we have a lot to be thankful for as we take in the solemn reminder of how fragile life is. God could call any of us home, at anytime. For the blessing of sparing Andrew further injury and death, I am deeply thankful. With the help of medicine, he is managing his pain alright. Hopefully he won't have any long term damage.
 Andrew's super awesome manager from work
 stopped by tonight with these get-well cookies.
The kids were thrilled! 


*Jess* said...

this made ME cry! Give Andrew a (gentle) hug from all of us here in SC. I am SO glad he's okay!

Catherine said...

Jess, you and me both! I thought maybe it was just my pregnancy hormones that I was crying through this whole post. Ali, so many blessings! Grateful he's okay.

rachel garber said...

That story made me sick and crying and everything. So glad he is ok. Fast roads freak me out to no end.

Katie Jensen said...

Gosh. Now I'm crying

Katie Jensen said...

Gosh. Now I'm crying

Hollie Lundell said...

Ali, thank you so much for sharing this. I am happy to know that Andrew is ok and is healing up. I cried my eyes out reading this. ((hugs)) Hollie =0)

DDs said...

You really had to be brave, Ali! And what a blessing that Andrew will be ok! We pray for you!
Some years ago a very young girl, first time driver , didn' t see my husband on his bike right beside her on the street and drove him over. I remember the call from the hospital that I should come at once. All the endless way into the hospital I just thought "It can't be over!" It really was a lesson not to take my husband, his life or my life for granted, it really is a blessing every new day. I can really relate to your feelings! All the best for you!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jens changed our google-account. DDs, that would be me, Claudia from Bonn...

jamie t. said...

I am SO glad that he is ok. That is so scary. I could hardly make it through without tears.

Andrew Flegal said...

I think I was in Cologne when Jens was in his accident. I definetly remember seeing him bruised and bandaged. Alles gute

Andrew Flegal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.