The accident was a major turning point in my life. It brought my family and community closer together through prayer, and it reorganized my priorities. It is an experience that I am reminded of each day as I notice my slight scar above my left eye or my larger scars that stretch across my stomach and back. News of my recovery continued to appear in the papers and on television up until a year after the incident and sometimes the kids I went to school with would lightly tease me for being the reason our open campus lunch policy became closed. Throughout my high school career, my track coach referred to me as his “miracle girl.”
It was a cool, late February afternoon and I had a date for lunch. Since I was only a freshman and wasn’t able to drive yet, going off campus for lunch was a big deal especially since Chris, the guy picking me up, was nineteen years old compared to my fifteen. I wasn’t supposed to be dating him, which was my parents’ response to the age difference, but that only heightened my excitement. Dressed casually in new Levi’s and a blue flannel shirt, I waited on the cement steps surrounded by my friends who would “ooh” and “ah” when “prince charming” picked me up. Soon the pale yellow Chevy Chevette pulled up to the curb and I bounded down the steps. Chris opened my door and I slid myself into the seat while nonchalantly waving goodbye to my friends. Chris asked if they would like to join us but I quickly murmured “how ‘bout next time,” not knowing that there wouldn’t be one.
Ten minutes later we were in the classy Carles Jr. drive-through waiting for our bacon double cheeseburgers and chocolate milkshakes and talking about nothing in particular. I straightened in my seat and listened to him with delighted interest as I noticed several upper-class girls glance our way, look Chris over carefully, and finish with a nod of approval. They were seeing Chris for the first time and it reminded me how appealing he really was. Five foot ten with wavy chocolate brown hair and dark brown eyes, he possessed that teddy bear quality which made you want to run up to him on impulse, give him a hug, and never let go. He was the guy who bought cars for fifty dollars, painted them camouflage-style and then went out to the desert with my sister’s boyfriend to play “Dukes of Hazard” until the car would no longer run. He was the one who always teased me and once brought me Coronas as a contribution to my studying Spanish. Although the girls could see his physical aspects, they missed his playful zest in life.
After receiving our orders, we headed across the street so Chris could take money out of the bank where his mother worked. I agreed to his plan of picking up some beers and then heading over to the park for a short picnic, so he ran into a nearby drug store and made the necessary purchases. With Chris’s strong love of beer, it was ironic that it was the last thing he ever bought. As we headed towards the park, which was located directly across the street from my school, we comfortably chatted while he skillfully maneuvered the car around the curves. Suddenly a red convertible Mustang was aimed straight for us and before I could scream out Chris’s name, it crossed over the double lines and hit us head-on.
Reality seemed to blur and I was unable to move. Could this really be happening to us? What would my parents do when they found out I was dating Chris? It was then that I realized I had many small objects loose in my mouth. At the time I thought I had knocked out all of my teeth, but I learned later that my mouth had been full of glass. The first people that arrived on the scene said I struggled to reach over and help Chris but it is something that is blocked from my memory. If I could remember it, it would be nightmarish because the steering wheel crushed his chest and most of the engine was on his lap. I heard voices as several people pulled my door open and lifted me out. They made me lie down on the pavement, put one jacket under my head and one over me, and continuously talked to me in order to keep me from going unconscious.
Minutes later sirens were blaring in the distance. Once the paramedics arrived, they assigned priority care numbers and took charge of the whole scene. I overheard myself being ranked third while Chris was first. A guy in the other car was second because he had gone into shock although he really only suffered facial cuts. When the paramedics reached me and asked where I hurt I replied, “my left arm,” but it was really my whole left side that hurt. Also, I was having difficulty in both seeing and breathing. They carefully slid a board under me, lifted me onto the stretcher, and wheeled it over to the ambulance. A man yelled, “We’ll have to pry him out,” and with a sinking feeling I knew he was talking about Chris. As the ambulance doors clicked shut I was desperately praying for God to keep me breathing and please, oh, please help Chris.
During the five miles to the hospital, I felt every bump or curve in the road and sharp pains shot through my body. As I was wheeled down the long, sterile hospital corridor I watched each bright light pass and soon found myself on a cold, metal table with even brighter lights glaring down on me. The shadowy figure standing above me began asking “yes” or “no” questions and I would blink an answer since I was unable to respond verbally due to the effects of some form of anesthesia. Slowly, so slowly consciousness faded as they began to piece me back together again.
The next ten days were critical as I had strange dreams while on Morphine in the intensive care unit. I underwent a total of three surgeries before the doctors stopped my internal bleeding. The congregations of two churches earnestly prayed that God would spare my life and heal my body. Despite only being given a 0.5 percent chance of survival, God ignored the odds and honored the prayers of many. James 5:15 says, “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.” God forgave my rebelliousness displayed in dating Chris against my parents’ wishes. God healed my broken shoulder, deep facial wounds, and massive chest and abdominal injuries. Today, I live spleen-less and have two metal clamps which hold together my left lung. I am completely healed. I am a walking, talking “miracle girl.”