I wasn’t with her during the intense moment of impact but I can easily envision the turn of events that led to the accident. I could see Izzy waving from the car window before leaving home for work. Her blonde curls bouncing behind her coach shades, her floral top rippling as she rolled the window back up. I could see Bambi her big German Shephard sitting in the back seat, bubble-gum pink tongue rolled in a pant and dripping with saliva. I had missed seeing the back half of her car sitting in my driveway in the early hours of the morning. I had to slam on my breaks when I heard that I had tapped her vehicle with mine and I could feel the guilt rising in my chest.
I truly felt that the moment I had tapped her car would be the worst thing I was going to have to face that day. Waking her up to tell her that I backed into her very first car that she had ever owned was something I dreaded doing with every step I took towards the front door. I had to make a plan to right my wrong. I was trying to work up the nerve to explain myself to her while mentally preparing for how she was going to take it. In the end, she was so thoughtful and sweet about it that I had a hard time accepting my own actions. Had I been on the receiving end, I doubt that I would have been quite as gracious. I left to take Nikolai to school feeling blessed by her loving kindness.
I was wrong though. Wrong that this moment would be the hardest thing we faced that day. Instead just fifteen minutes after witnessing her leave for work, glass particles were flying through the air like tiny pieces of shrapnel. Her big beautiful dog was saved only because the back seat laid flat and kept the poor animal from becoming a projectile. The airbags never deployed and her body went into survival mode as her car skid several feet through the intersection.
She had plans to drop Bambi off at her boyfriend’s (Matt) house before making her way to work. She was driving down the highway when a blue van failed to stop at a stop sign and plowed right into her little Prius. Oh how she loved the gas mileage on that car! I watched her laugh when people tried to tease her for driving it and she would toss quips back at them about how far she could drive on a single tank of gasoline. Isabell has always been like that. She could take the insults as much as she could dish it out.
The driver and passenger of the blue van were an elderly couple. They somehow missed the stop sign when they ran through the intersection. A motherly stranger who witnessed the accident shakily made their way to Isabell’s side to see if she was alright. The van was totaled and Izzy’s car wouldn’t even turn on to pull it onto the shoulder of the road. The stranger took Izzy’s phone from her hands and helped her make calls to her boyfriend, her mom, her sister, and myself.
“Lish, I need you to know that I’ve been in an accident. My car is totaled, my body hurts all over, but I’m okay. Bambi and I are both okay. Matt is on his way to sit with me until the police arrive and I have paperwork to do but I’ll keep you posted. Don’t worry.”
“Don’t worry?” I repeated.
I could hear her voice quivering but I could also hear the confidence in her underlying tone. I was absolutely worried. In fact, I was so worried that I could feel my stomach churning and I thought I was going to get sick. She’s the daughter I never had. There was no way I was going to refrain from being worried about her. I changed her diapers when she was little. I dressed her up in pretty dresses and called her mine. She’s as much my daughter as my grandmother’s who adopted her. I urged her to go to the hospital and get looked at. I knew she was going to be hurting in the days ahead and we formed a plan on how she would get through the accident step-by-step.
I spent several hours trying to wrap my head around having almost lost her after she sent me the images from the accident. I felt confused about why her airbags never went off, thankful that her seat snapped backwards to protect Bambi, and grateful to the elderly couple who felt nothing but remorse over their mistake. It could have worse. I could have been planning a funeral for my girl.
The hours that went by after the accident and the many phone calls we took back and fourth to our family members had me reflecting on the events throughout that day. What are the odds that I would tap her car with mine and hours later she would be in such an accident as this one? What if it had been a different accident in a different place and time? What if Bambi had been in the front seat? What if the airbags needed to deploy in order to have saved her life but they never did?
Sometimes we have to accept that bad things happen for very good intentions. As inconvenient as moments like this one are, any change to her routine that morning could have left me with the responsibility of planning her funeral rather than helping her plan for the future. A car is replaceable, a human being or beloved furry family member is not.
I’ve had similar moments myself. One day I spent an hour trying to locate one of Nikolai’s shoes before making a trip through Atlanta to spend quality time with my husband. I felt flustered after having torn the house apart only to discover it at the bottom of a toy box. When we were finally well on our way, we passed a five car pile-up in the middle of the highway. Had we left when we planned… it would have put us right in the middle of the entire thing. The accident had at least one casualty that day but because of a missing shoe, we weren’t one of them.
Life is full of stories like this one. Stories of near accidents that kept people alive, there’s also some pretty amazing books about 9-11 survivors with similar themes as well. We don’t always know when things like this will happen. Sometimes people find themselves leaving the house early because they set their alarm clock wrong and something happens within moments of them leaving the scene. I always try to remind myself of times like this when something comes along to disrupt the way I plan my day. We often have more to be thankful for than we realize.
5 thoughts on “When Bad Things Happen With Good Intentions”
oh my gosh, that’s awful! So sorry that was your day but I am so glad no one was terribly hurt! You’re right, the outcome could have been so much worse and at least you can appreciate that! I’m like you, I often think about all the times I must’ve escaped a less-than-desirable fate based on being early or late somewhere… but wondering can make us crazy sometimes.. so I just try to appreciate all the good times we are blessed with! 🙏
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Exactly!! We’re all so very lucky 🍀 🥰 and Blessed! 💪🏻
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Scary stuff. People (myself included) often take things for granted until something goes amiss. We indeed are at the mercy of random things beyond our control. We hit a spot of ice, and our car could run off the road, be tossed into the path of an oncoming vehicle, or regain control before something terrible happens. It all happens in an instant. I can’t imagine how a drunk driver lives with themself after killing an innocent person.
I once came out to a parking lot to find my first car (a pumpkin orange Chevy Nova) bashed in by a hit-and-run driver. It was very upsetting. I couldn’t believe somebody would do that and that somebody didn’t witness it. That incident stayed with me a long time, and I promised myself that I’d do the right thing if I ever ran into someone. One night about 20 years ago, I backed into someone at my gym. I had to go inside and tell the desk person. They made an announcement over the intercom, and the owner came out. He was nice about the whole thing and thankful that I was honest. He told me that he had just gotten his vehicle back from the body shop a week before because someone else had hit him. Now that’s some bad luck!
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I’m so glad that you did the honorable thing and that guy must have had a terrible day that day! I can’t imagine seeing your vehicle hit by a drunk driver and smashed in. I hope the driver who did it for help before they hurt someone. It’s amazing to me at the near misses that people escape. I think it makes us better people to realize how lucky we are to walk among the living. ❤️
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An interesting thought popped into my head, perhaps your empty car was a better alternative to a car holding a family. Perhaps the accident woke the drunk driver up and shook their lives enough to get help. Perhaps not, but you never know. It may have been wildly inconvenient and difficult for you but devastating to someone else. Sometimes I think that things like this happen for all the right reasons.
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