He says to me, “Rebecca…it’s bad…this is bad…it’s real bad…I was in a wreck… this is really bad.” Immediately I am fully awake and trying to understand the words he is speaking to me, denial trying to creep its way in. I stop him and ask, “Honey, what are you saying? What’s happened? Are you OK?” He replied, (his voice at a higher pitch and sounding slightly slurred), “I don’t know what happened… I’ve been hit…its bad…it’s really bad…I think I’m really hurt…I’m bleeding, I need you here.” I asked where he was and he told me. I told him I was on the way and hung up. He would call me back a couple minutes later and repeat almost word for word what he had said to me before ~ with no memory of speaking to me.
Needless to say, at this point I was fully consumed with a level of fear that I’d not known until then; because whatever had happened, I realized in that moment ~ he had a head injury. It turned out he was only 2 miles from our home and I prayed every second of what seemed an endlessly long drive. Arriving at the scene there were already several police cars and emergency vehicles. I saw an F150 in the middle of the intersection with a smashed front and at first didn’t see my husband, our dog, (who was also in the car), or our Honda Civic anywhere. I jumped out running into the scene, (glass and car parts scattered), and first saw a man in uniform with our dog (Zeke) on a leash. I picked up Zeke, who was shaking very hard and took him to the car, setting him in the front seat. Running back, I saw my husband at the back of the emergency vehicle, with blood all over his face, a bruised eye, a dime size hole in his chest and a line running from his shoulder to the opposite side of his body to the base of his abdomen. He was holding his cell phone and when he saw me said, “Hey, you’re here. I was calling you and you didn’t answer. I was mad, I thought you were home asleep and I needed you here.” Looking at him, I knew that something was very wrong. I told the paramedic standing by me that he had spoken with me twice with no memory of it.
My husband then asked that I go take pictures of the car while the paramedics worked on him. It was then that I saw our car in the distance to my right – past the side walk and in a parking lot. As I approached I could not believe what my eyes were seeing. The first thing I saw was that the driver’s side was completely smashed from the door to the front of the car, with the front wheel having been bent out flat onto the ground. The front of the car was under a parked jeep and pushed back. Looking inside, seeing glass covering everything, I was stunned that my husband and dog were alive at all. I came back to my husband, who was being loaded into the truck for transport to the ER, (the gravity of potential internal injuries setting into my mind). We swapped “I love you(s)” and for a brief period I realized I could loose him ~ something I’d never thought of before.
The drive to take our dog home and then get to the hospital was truly the longest of my life, spending all of it talking to God and asking for His mercy on my husband. I made several calls to family and friends to notify them of what had happened and to ask for prayer. Of all the calls, the hardest one to make was to his daughters (who live in AL), to make them aware of what had happened. In the end, the ER physician would tell us that it was miraculous, (with the impact he suffered and external markings), that there was in fact “no internal bleeding”. He told us that he had feared a severed liver, but found everything to be in tact. He was diagnosed with a concussion at the ER and would later, (under the care of an orthopedic), be diagnosed with: 2 broken ribs, a cracked sternum, injuries to his right and left knees, a tear in his left shoulder, a jammed right foot, chipped tooth and a radial collateral ligament tear in his left arm that will require surgery in the near future. His injuries were by no means minor, but the fact is…miraculously he left that hospital 5 hours after entering it.
We would later learn that the man who hit my husband had a .199 BAL and had a hallucinogenic in his system. He had an expired registration, was uninsured and had a suspended license (with a long history of the same). He had been traveling west bound at a high rate of speed, crossing all the lanes from the west bound side, through the intersection into the eastbound lane and striking my husband in the front/driver’s side of the car, knocking him immediately unconscious and sending his car across east bound lanes, over a sidewalk and then having a second hard impact, landing him under a parked jeep.
The more we learned about the accident, the more we realized just how much God had been involved throughout. Had the driver been over just a few more inches or my husband’s car been forward a few more inches, he would likely have been dead. Rather than hitting the curb at 40+mph after the first impact, our car had missed the curb, light post, telephone pole and fire hydrant – to instead run up the handicap entrance to the sidewalk; then hitting the parking stop in the parking lot which had slowed the car enough so that when the second impact occurred, the car didn’t come in on his legs. Our dog, (who weighs 8 lb and was in the front seat), had crawled under the towel that covered it just prior to impact. When it happened, this caused the towel to wrap around his body as he was being thrown into the dash and ultimately saved him. (Little Zeke had a head and eye injury). My husband had worn a writing pen in his shirt and a cross underneath his shirt. The hole in his chest was caused when (at impact) the pen broke – but rather than it being imbedded into his chest, it broke on the cross, leaving a hole about 1/8” deep and sparing him from more severe injury..
The holidays, (from Thanksgiving to the New Year), are a time for family, reflection, gratitude and dreams for the future. Our family realized through this experience, just how fleeting and precious the moments we have together are. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by all the happenings in our day to day lives, both the good and the bad, losing site of the here and now. We realized through this experience that we really are not promised tomorrow ~ the only thing we truly have is “Right here and right now”. Certainly nothing is more important than settling differences as quickly as possible, enjoying the company of those in our lives, taking advantage of every opportunity to laugh and never letting a day go by without telling those who matter to us, “I love you”. From our family to yours, “Embrace and enjoy this holiday season and God bless you all.”
© 2012, 2013 Rebecca Balko