It took months to get the sounds out of my head. The shriek of crumpling metal and plastic combined with the windshield pixelating as we came to a jolting stop in weird slow-motion. The frontal impact was on the same side as my young daughter. The car was wrapping itself around her and then...we were alive! The winter sky was so beautiful and blue. Bones were broken but we felt no pain for hours, as our bodies fed us endorphins (natural painkillers) and we waited for the Jaws of Life. We were the third car in less than half an hour to need them.
We had been driving to my daughter's dance class. When we hit black ice I did two things wrong. I kept steering and skidding, but I downshifted and made us fishtail even more. Then I failed to just accept a lesser accident and head for a snow-drift, maybe in neutral. Now there came an oncoming, larger car...
Through the windshield maze I spoke with rescue workers. I kept a continuous soothing hand on my four and-a-half year-old. Sally was brave. The gearshift pinned and nearly wrapped around her left ankle, the roof was near her head, and the glove-box was inches away from her chest. That rescue took extra time. We had always chanted "God bless the hurting people" when we heard sirens. Now, inside the ambulance, we prayed for each other.
My pelvis and her thigh were broken, but a sudden stop will do that. The pain started hours later in the hospital. We needed the ancient comfort of massage in addition to medicine. Nurses and hands-on technicians made all the difference to our comfort. I had bargained to be with my daughter in Pediatrics so we could hold hands. The goal of continuing to work faded away into four months of painful rehab for us both.
My nervous system kept reminding me I had faced death. The would-be epitaph haunted me: "medium-good financial planner". Finance seemed so empty now. Slowly I determined to make my childhood hobby of foot reflexology and massage into a more meaningful career.
Two years later we moved to big beautiful Rochester and my goal, "to relieve pain". Gracious teachers made me do body-building. They coached me in perfect posture for bodywork, now licensed massage therapy, and gave me clients. Incredibly it's been over twenty years full-time and I still love to give deep tissue massage!
My grandmother had little healing hands and I thank her and all my teachers for this strength and purpose. The work continues to inspire, fascinate and support me. I even met my wonderful husband Julian Karr through massage and celebrated twenty years this month.
Now I drive with relaxed, amused focus. Sally and I practice "good tires, good brakes" and we avoid "road grapes" (clusters of death from tailgating cars). We count two seconds space between cars when possible and use our mirrors nicely.
I thank God for such a good outcome from such a bad wreck.