Monday, February 25, 2013


**** First of all, no one that reads this is allowed to show my mom.  I made it so she (and  my dad) can't see it on Facebook.  She's in Florida, and it was work for my dad to get her to go.  She's always worried that bad things will happen while she is gone, and she won't be around to help.  She doesn't need to read this while she's there, okay?  She knows we were in an accident, but she doesn't need details or pictures.  If you promise, imagine signing your name on the  line and read on. :)


I don’t usually write this kind of thing on Facebook (or a blog).  In some ways, this feels like writing about a death in the family or about some big ol’argument Keith and I were in.  Like Facebook isn’t the place to share, and yet…

You've read about Soren’s "non-itchy butt" and Zeke’s latest costume, because those things are what make me laugh.  Those things are what make me smile when life is stupid.

Those are some of the things that make me be glad to be alive.

But this day; today’s moments, made me happy to be alive too. 

Not because it was so funny or fun, but because it was one more time when I walked away glad that I (and my family) were alive today.

I pray a prayer with Soren every night (yes, it’s a different prayer than the one I do with Eyann, because Soren likes to have “his own” prayer), and it says, at the end, “Thank you for today, and we thank you for the day we’ll get to live tomorrow”. 

I guess we assume we’ll get to live tomorrow, and usually we do, but some day, that tomorrow will get cut short.  Today’s events helped me to be thankful that today wasn’t the day that got cut short.
This is going to be kind of long, because I want you to be able to see, if you can, what it felt like, and I guess I need a lot of words to do that... 

We were on the expressway, going about 70 mph, when Keith put on his brakes. 

The right lane, the one we were in, was backed-up and going about 35 mph.   We slowed and got in line with the rest of the right-lane traffic.    

I remember Keith being surprised by the sudden slow-down while I, a habit after quick stops, looked in the rearview mirror to see a black SUV speeding towards us. 

Then we were in the Gravitron…

that carnival ride that pins you against the wall with its fast spinning motion.

and I remember wishing it would stop so I could see what was happening. 

It did stop, eventually, and I quickly looked over at Keith. 

And Keith wasn’t looking back.  Actually, he wasn’t responding at all.  He was sitting in his seat, eyes open, but not moving or talking.  Not blinking or answering when I called his name.  I didn’t want to scream it, because I didn’t want to upset the kids.

I wondered how I would tell the kids, (later, of course) that their dad had died.

I crawled back to check on the kids.  They were quiet, their heads probably still spinning; telling me about this leg that hurt or this part of their back was sore. 

I checked on Keith again, getting in his face and calling his name a little more loudly. 


As I sat there, trying to think of what to do next, Soren started crying…

“Mom, I can’t move my legs!” 

Expecting the worst, I looked back to see his and Eyann’s legs had been pinned between the seats, which had all been shoved forward on impact. 

I couldn’t get them out. 

I checked on Keith again, calling his name, my face in his….then finally….

“What??!!” (like I had rudely interrupted his sleep). 

I had time, now, to notice the pieces of glass and chunks of van that were shattered all over the floor and seats.  Papers, books, water bottles, all of the contents of my purse, and the kids’ DVDs were strewn all over the place.  Basil was frantically collecting the Harry Potter book that his Papa reads to them every night. 

A women came to the door, to ask how she could help.  (I love her, and I wish I knew who she was so I could thank her).  She helped me pull my seat upright again, (it had been shoved flat back upon impact), and we loosened the little kids’ feet.  I shoved Soren out of the only door that was not smashed shut, and this lady held him while I tried to talk to Keith. 

Keith was still in and out of consciousness. 

When he was awake, he’d ask the same two questions: “What happened?” and “Was it my fault?”  (He said later he felt bad that he wasn’t asking about the kids, but at the time, he didn’t know he had any kids!  He didn’t know that it was his wife that kept insisting he answer her questions.) 

And so it was, for the next however-long (accident time must be screwed up, because what felt like five minutes was around an hour), Keith asked, over and over again, “What happened?” and “Was it my fault?”

In between answering his questions, (and wondering how I was going to take care of him for the rest of his life, plus all five kids), I held onto Eyann and Soren (who had asked to be put back in the van with his family), and waited for the ambulance to come. 

Three ambulances. 

Four kids (not Soren) and Keith all strapped to boards and raced to the hospital. 

And this is where the story gets shorter, because while we got whacked from behind full-force by an SUV and then thrown into traffic and whacked again on Keith’s side, I walked into the hospital on my own, and my kids were all released less than an hour after we arrived.  Not a single scratch or bruise to be found.  On anyone.

Keith asked, for another five hours or so, if he had kids and what their names were, if he had a wife, what happened and was it his fault, where was he and who the hell were all of these people staring at him :) , what happened (another 50 times), and what month and year it was.  (That last question apparently, was one that a nurse had asked him in her evaluation, and he tried “cheating” by asking me.)  :)

Keith’s CT-scans finally came back normal, he eventually figured out who his family was, and he even greeted Eyann in Chinese.  I was glad I wasn’t going to have to change his diapers in the very-near future. 

All of us, minus our mangled van, were declared healthy enough to go home. 

We went to see the van the next day, and it was worse than I remembered (and worse than these pictures can visually describe).  Keith’s seat was ripped out of its frame.  Soren and Eyann’s (middle) seat was bent.  The trunk was gone, pushed clear up to the rear seat.  The rear seat was lop-sided and bent; shoved flat up to the seat in front of it.  I kept mentally measuring how many inches were in between the sharp pieces of the very-crushed van and our kids’ fragile heads.  I took note of the three broken back windows and the fact that not a single kid had even shed a drop of blood.  I noticed the metal that was peeled back around the tires and the dent along most of the left side.

And that feeling I get when Soren tells me he likes my “wrinkly tummy”?
                             Or when my boys pretend they are Super Ninjas while "stealthing" around the house?      
          Or when Eyann and Sep try to make cookies together and make a giant mess?
Or when Keith sits on the couch, every single night, with our kids to read them Harry Potter?

Well, I kinda got that same crazy feeling while looking at that van.   Like, “Hey God?  I’m glad you gave me these people.  And thanks for today.  And thanks if we get to live tomorrow.”  

How the heck did all of those windows (under the blue) shatter everywhere inside the van but not at all cut our kids?? 

That's our trunk, pushed all the way up to the rear seats.  

  These seats were pushed all the way to the next row of seats, leaving no room for legs at all.  Good thing my kids are skinny??

An SUV (and all of that sharp stuff) was inches away from our kids' heads

Keith's seat was broken right off the base

1 comment:

  1. Oh Karla. How incredibly scary! I'm so impressed with your quick thinking and ability to stay calm! I would have totally written Andrew off as dead/disabled, too, and tried to figure out how I was going to care for him and our kids.