Collision With Life

By Nancy Eder, a member of Get Your WordsWorth

I’m alive. We’re alive. I scream in disbelief at the gigantic grasshopper which has filled my field of vision with the realization that it is actually a monstrous yellow farm tractor towering and closing in. Impossible as this all seems, this enormous vehicle has come
from nowhere to consume us. There is no heading it off though Ellen is screaming to Wally, “ what are you doing?”, as if to prevent the inevitable crash. We are going to die. It is clear. But the jolt of the impact flings me forward in my seat and the seatbelt boomerangs back as we collide. The front of the rented four door black Mercedes sedan in which we are riding is now inches from the front window crushed like an enormous black beetle.
It is the middle of the afternoon on a two-lane country road outside of the city of Figueres in Spain. The sun is high above us brightly shining painting the sky with a brilliant blue brush. Not a cloud on the horizon. The fields of mown spring wheat lay quietly in the open fields. Like lumps of clay in the distance the farmed acreage is just awakening to spring. A bit of the black shiny skin of the car paint barely touches the cracked windshield. Dangling and swinging in the breeze near the strip of paint, the silver emblem of Mercedes proclaims its sovereignty over the disaster. And we are alive. It’s a miracle.

I am strapped in with my seat belt in the back seat behind the driver. My brother-in-law, Wally, is in the driver’s seat. My sister Ellen is moaning in the passenger seat saying that she is dead. But in fact we were are all strapped in and alive; no blood has been spilled. No bones seem to be broken, but we are all in some degree of pain.

We are all alive, but Ellen is saying she is dead.

We are not dying, and yet the vision right before the impact of the crash said that this was the end of our lives. There was no avoiding it. Wally had been following a group of four drivers ahead of him who had each passed the tractor. It was Wally’s turn to pass. He increased his speed and in matter of a couple of seconds, the farmer without signaling or looking, turned his wheel and swerved left heading into his field. Wally tried to avoid him, but the tractor was upon us. He swerved hitting the bulk of the tractor with his front end and the tractor careened to the right. With tail in the air the tractor is now headfirst on the side of the road nose in a ditch. The farmer has been injured, but at this point we are unaware of his injuries.

How will we be able to do the catering of the wedding in three weeks? Is this chest pain a heart attack, or is it just pain from the seatbelt? Wally is quiet. He at least seems to be uninjured. After a short while he opens his car door checking to see that we are alright though my sister and I feel unable to move from the pain. How could this have happened on such a beautiful day in the country? There are no answers. It happened. Accidents happen.
I’ve only just met and fallen in love with a wonderful man. Today as luck and circumstance would have it is the birthday of my second son, Michael. I can’t die on the day that he is celebrating his birth. But I’m told that cars were accumulating on the road, the ambulances have been called for and they should be here soon.

Soon the empty road is filled with cars coming from both directions. Uniformed men and women jump out of trucks and come over to ask if we need assistance. The first to arrive on the scene are the firemen. . . .followed quickly by the police. In Spanish, a bit
of Catalan, some French and English, they all piece together that everyone is ok with the exception of the farmer who is standing outside holding his bleeding head in a colorful cloth. He is dazed and while Wally goes over to speak to him, the man doesn’t respond.

Ellen and I realize that we are both having the same chest pain which offers a bit of consolation that we are not having heart attacks. The seat belts that saved us are also the source of the pain….giving new meaning to the feeling that you’ve been hit by a truck.

The care we received in the brand new hospital in Figueres was exceptional. X-ray machines, clean spacious hallways, bright, competent medical people made us feel we were in an exceptionally topknotch facility After several hours of tests and exams, we were deemed sufficiently alright to leave without being admitted to the hospital. After Wally got a new car for us to return for the long drive to France, we finally arrived home ten hours later.

Where is Lee? He’s 4000 miles away asleep in New York and unaware that our lives together had just been narrowly saved. In fact, the strong bond we had created in a short three months had almost been severed completely and forever. I was certain that I missed his presence and comfort. How important we had become to one another was accentuated by feelings of loss, relief, pain and reassurance. A pot of emotion flooded into the car with the realization that we would live. Life would be renewed and the glorious happiness which engulfed us until this point would resume. But with a new awareness and greater appreciation.

Life is short when one is seventy-two. . . shorter than longer. It would not have been very considerate to have died on my son’s birthday. It would not have been decent to have died having just met a wonderful partner. It would have been over for me, but it would have left a lot of lifelong wreckage in the wake of the accident. But we are alive and loving it.

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2 thoughts on “Collision With Life

  1. peggy strait says:

    Dear Nancy,
    Wow! What a story! I love the way you related the events blow by blow – urgent, breathless. By age 70+ we are all survivors in one way or another, right?
    Waiting for your next story.

    • Nancy Eder says:

      Peggy, thanks for reading my essay and your comments. I must say that I lived it ‘blow by blow’ for several months after the accident. So, as a piece of writing, it came easily because I was experiencing the accident over and over. It was very therapeutic to be able to write about it.


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