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The Day My Life Came to a Screeching Halt

Saturday, October 23, 2004: It was a normal fall day, leaves on the ground, the air was brisk, and the weather was favorable. It was the perfect day, not too hot, not too cold. It was just right. This was the type of day you would see in a movie, leaves rustling on the pavement and the kids running around outside raking piles of leaves and then jumping in them. The season is always long-awaited by us here in the South, because of the pollen-filled spring and the hot and humid summer.

This special day held one meaning, to gather our family to celebrate my cousin’s eighteenth birthday, her introduction and induction into adulthood. Although family get-togethers happened frequently, it never hindered the emotion or expectation of these events. They’re time-telling traditions, rituals, and customs. These gatherings are sacred and will be passed on for many generations to come.

I remember sleeping in that day since I had school that week before. I cherished the weekends, because they allowed for catching up on one’s rest and curing a student’s best friend, sleep deprivation. Mom came in my room and woke me up at nine. The day started off like any other with the normal morning routine that we as humans grow accustomed to, using the restroom, brushing our teeth, showering, grooming ourselves, and getting dressed. It’s one of those things in life that uses no brain power whatsoever so we never complain about them.

After getting dressed and making sure everything was squared away I was ready to go. Along with every family get-together we organize, I remember never eating breakfast beforehand, so instead I ran over a checklist of things I needed to do or had to bring. Do I have Crystal’s present? Check. Did I make her card? Check. Do I have the pineapple salad that mom made? Check. Did I bag up the two-liter bottles of drinks? Check. Do I have my brain? Check. It was time to go.  After making several trips from the house to the car to load everything up, I was ready to pull out of the driveway. My E.T.A status was 1:30 p.m.; I was en route.

1:40 p.m.: After my long-awaited arrival, I turned into the driveway at my aunt’s house. Halfway down the driveway I hear a sudden thud. First thinking I hit something, I look to the side and it’s nothing more than my cousins attacking my car. I finish parking the car and I turn off the engine. As I step out of my car that’s when all of my cousins scatter, because they know it will excuse them from unloading duty. After making several trips from my car to the deck, I eventually had the food, supplies, and presents in the right place. Slightly thereafter I head inside to see the rest of the family. I made my rounds; there were different family members in several locations around the property. Some of them were up in the game room decorating or setting up tables, some were in the kitchen cooking the side dishes, the men were outside in the gazebo grilling all the meat, the kids were all running around from one point to another, and the rest were either sitting around or getting presents together.

As the adults finished up with the food we started a game of backyard football. It was equal teams on both sides ranging from the smallest kid to the largest adult; the first one to six won. I remember it took forever; there were constant turn-over’s on the ball. While we finished up the long, drawn out football game, a couple of others brought the four-wheeler out to ride up and down the roads and around the property there at the house. Being of age and having possession of my license, I was the one who drove the kids around the yard and down the road so they could have fun. After riding the four-wheeler for a while, dinner was finally ready.

4:00 p.m.: As everyone huddled around the tables to join hands and bow our heads to pray, my uncle Kelly delivered the blessing and upon the unison “Amen,” we all dug in. We had everything: barbequed ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, barbequed chicken, regular, grilled chicken, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, potato salad, macaroni salad, chips, dips, salsa, you name it. We had all the toppings: tomato, lettuce, onions, sour kraut, slaw, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. There was wall to wall food. There was no way you were leaving that house hungry. There were always extras to take home and drinks were stocked out the yin-yang.

After we were done eating, we decided to take the four-wheeler out for its last spin before nightfall. There were several different people that wanted to ride, so we all took turns. I was the last one. As I hopped on to start it up, several of my cousins begged to ride. Fighting over who was going to ride, I calmly said, “whoever is going to ride has to go ask first.” Without thinking to look behind me to see who was on, I take off. Of age and license in hand, I took it out on the roads for a while. As I came to the end of Clearwater Lake Road, I stopped from exasperation. Coming through the dam like a bat out of hell, there is a dangerous curve with the speed limit posted at forty miles per hour. I came through the curve going forty-five, which lead to maintaining the curve on two wheels. Upon stopping I look behind me to see who was on the back and it was none other than my cousin and daredevil, Richard.

As I sat in some stranger’s driveway that day thinking about how stupid I was for taking the curve the way I did, Richard was behind me persistently saying, “let me drive, Becky, let me drive.” I knew the only way to shut him up was to let him drive, otherwise I would have never heard the end of it. Negatively persuading me, he and I switched places. Before we took off to head back to the house, I told him to take it easy through the curve, because he previously had seen how I took it on two wheels. He said ok and we were off.

Being the “hugger” that I am, I like to hold on to the driver. As we started to take off Richard was standing and I told him to sit down numerous times. Finally he sat down and I look down at the odometer and it read forty-eight miles per hour. As it gradually increases I start yelling, “Richard slow down!” Several times I repeated myself. Looking down at the gauge I watch the speed increase. I watch inadvertently as the numbers appeared on the gauge, fifty, fifty-three, fifty-five, fifty-seven: I could barely speak. Fed up, I yell at the top of my lungs, “Richard slow your ass down!” Starting to repeat myself again I said, “Rich—, I never remembered finishing the phrase.

Off behind me in an abyss-type black hole I hear, “Becky, wake up. Are you ok? You know I would never do anything to hurt you. Becky, wake up! Becky?” As the sound draws nearer to what finally becomes reality, all I feel is someone shaking me. Feeling like I was lost inside a vacuum, drowning in its silent echoes, I finally wake up. Visually grasping the thought of why I was on the ground, I look down to see that I lost my left shoe. Sitting straight up as if I were in a chair, I try to stand. Basking in the pain that is indescribable, I felt like everything inside of me was shrinking but on the other hand it felt as if I was about to explode.

Finally after several attempts, I could stand. Inside my head it felt like I had no brain activity, I couldn’t even hear. The constant shrinking sensation inside, I felt like I was going to die. Gaining the strength to walk, I was still upset I didn’t have my shoe. I begged, pleaded, and forced Richard to climb over the guardrail in order to retrieve it. Now that I had my shoe, I was able to focus on better things. Barely able to walk, I managed to hobble over to the four-wheeler and back it out of the railing. We attempted to ride the four-wheeler all the way back home, but the wheel was completely separate from the axle.

Focusing more on our injuries, I was trauma compared to Richard. Richard had a cut across the crease of his arm and a little bump on his head behind his ear. Looking down at my right ankle, I saw gashes. This is the leg that had gotten trapped between the four-wheeler and the guardrail. There wasn’t much other at the time that I could think of other than I had a severe headache, my entire right side was numb, and I could barely walk let alone breathe.  Feeling as if I was about to pass out, Richard and I both flagged down two men in a small boat on the lake. The road that we were on had a lake on one side and a concrete dam on the other. We asked the men did they have any cell phones on them by any chance and luckily one of them did.

Dazed and confused as to why the men never called anyone to begin with after watching and hearing us wreck, they asked for a number to someone we could get in contact with. Being our luck, the man had Nextel. The coverage out this way doesn’t make for the best of situations; it only contributes to more stress. Finally getting in touch with his boss, he tells us that he is two minutes away and that he will kindly take us back to where we need to go. After his boss arrived, a man and his daughter hopped out of the truck and Richard and I got in. Speeding seventy-five miles one way headed towards the house, we happened to pass my uncle and Richard’s dad. He was speeding about one-hundred miles per hour in the opposite direction. Richard and I kind of looked at each other and asked “how?” The man on the lake radioed his boss back and went on to say that he finally got in touch with someone at our house.

Experiencing everything happen was like watching a movie in slow motion. As we proceeded into the driveway, everyone was gathered atop of the concrete surface awaiting the arrival of someone with some kind of news. Walking down from the game room inside the garage was my mom with my baby cousin in hand. The look on her face was ghastly, matching the white t-shirt she was wearing. Bringing me to tears for the first time during the wreck, the family came to open the doors of the truck to let Richard and me out. Overwhelmed with the crowd of people only upset me more; The crowd wouldn’t let me through, first my Aunt Edna, then my Aunt Karen, then my little cousins; I was afraid I was never going to make it back to my mom. Finally with a twist of faith I did, I never felt the woman cling on to me as hard as she did that day.

Finally making it inside, my brother took turns cleaning out our wounds in the kitchen sink. With my mom right there, she lifted up my shirt to see something; I believe she saw blood on my shorts. Sure enough, when she lifted up my shirt I was scraped from my bra-line down to my hip. Still completely numb, my mom asked if I was ok. I’m not exactly sure what I said, but all I remember was looking down at my hip and seeing it. It wasn’t of normal size, I was afraid I was bleeding internally. With numbness being a sign of internal bleeding, I was scared. I remember mama taking me into my aunt’s bathroom and making me get inside the tub to rinse out the rocks and debris from the wounds on my side. My body was so tense and yet so sore. I could barely move. Lying there, I remember several people coming and going out of the bathroom. The only one of significance was Aunt Edna. She asked if I would go to the hospital and get everything checked out just to make sure. I agreed. Mom helped me up out of the bathtub, dried me off, and helped get me dressed.

Back to the driveway once again, we were getting in the car. We took my Aunt’s car, the Monte Carlo. It’s a two door, five passenger vehicle. I remember trying to climb into the backseat. It was nothing but pure misery. We loaded up the car; it was Richard, Michelle, and me in the backseat and Edna and mom in the front. We were headed to the hospital. It was a pretty quiet ride, not much was said. The utter shock echoed in the pure silence of the car that night.

8:45 p.m.: We just arrived at the hospital. We get checked in and wait in the waiting room for what seemed like forever and a day. After many of the family members went outside to take smoke breaks, they finally called both of us back. He and I had separate rooms but right next to each other. After settling in the room I had to take my clothes off and get into the generic hospital gown. While laying there in the hospital bed, I reflected back on the previous events of that day. Thinking about going to Judgment Journey the night before and everything following it that day, it really made me think. Lying there freezing, they finally decided to take us down for x-rays and cat scans.

Upon exiting the room in the hospital bed, the nurses crash our beds together. I kindly told the woman, “We’ve already had one accident together; I guess we can just count this as two.” After taking multiple x-rays, they took us back to our rooms. Shortly thereafter, everything appeared fine. The ER doctor came in and told us that we were very lucky to survive a wreck like that without any helmets, and he put triple antibiotic ointment on my wounds and fixed me up. He didn’t do anything for my gashes on my ankle, because it was too close to the bone; it had to heal from the inside out. After he left, I got dressed and mama gathered our things. I remember walking out to the car that night, it was horrific. For every step I took I would have to stop and take a breath. It was impossible to walk and breathe at the same time. It took me twenty minutes to get from the door of the emergency room to the car itself.

We finally made it back to my aunt’s house. Before falling asleep on the couch I went up to the garage where the men had the four-wheeler at. They told me I actually saved Richard’s life. With the way Richard was leaning on the steering column, he would have flipped over the front of it into the dam if it hadn’t have been for me holding on to him. I took the blow to my hip with him and me both landing on it. Meanwhile the women cleaned everything up from the game room and the mess that the party had caused. After they were finished I remember the family sitting in the living room just goofing around and telling jokes. They did it on purpose knowing good and well it hurt me to laugh. I’m glad they did it though. It helped me gain composure and softened the awkward mood from earlier that still lingered in the air.

1:30 a.m.: Mama was ready to leave; after all, she had a pretty stressful day. After waking me up from my well deserved nap on the couch, I gathered my things, put on my shoes and was ready to leave. Dad had to drive my car home because it was past the curfew on my license. After arriving home I remember going to my room, laying on the bed, and crashing for the night. The normal night’s rest turned into all day until I woke up from the smell of mama cooking fried chicken. I remember moving that day. It wasn’t easy; I was stiff, inflexible, and in tons of pain. I remember eating, taking Tylenol, and going back to bed.

The wreck kept me in bed for four days; the Sunday following and the next three school days as well. The wreck changed not only my physical state, but it changed me as a person as well. Following the months after my wreck, I lost thirty pounds, declared my faith, and turned my life completely upside down. To this day my hip has never returned back to its original state. I sorted out problems that haunted me before, I answered questions that I normally was not able to, but most of all, I was happy to be alive.

“Don’t let one bad mishap change your overall outlook on life.” This is the motto that I swore to live my life by. Although I have vowed to live by that motto, waking up to these scars that mask my body have changed both my perspective and outlook on life. Getting a second chance at life is a rare opportunity that most people take for granted. Although I could conform and live my life like other’s do theirs, I have decided not to. I live each day to the fullest and it shows. I have pledged my life to be an example for others, and I still live my life like that to this day. I try to be a beacon to others and shine my light for them to see that there is hope when all is lost.

On the rare occurrence of my second shot in life I turned my complete life around. My life has forever been changed and rewritten according to this wreck and it has been for the best. I rebuilt everything from the ground up; I am much happier, a lot healthier, I always have a smile on my face, and I have a completely different outlook on life. In Jeremiah 29:11 it states, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” These are the guidelines as to which I live my life. I am His sheep, and His sheep I will forever be.

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5 Comments

  1. Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

  2. Thanks to you

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys.
    Really means alot!

    I hope you read more of my stuff 🙂

  4. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.


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