It was a Saturday in February. Winter conditions were aggravated by the snow storm alert. It had been a crazy day, even before it was time to get on the road to pick up two teenage clients from their family visits and return them to their Treatment Home. I had already driven the stretch between Port Perry and Oshawa three times that day carrying adolescent passengers. I would again three more times before my day completed. As I was stood scraping the ice off my windshield, I prayed to my unseen Spirit-team to keep the boys and I safe during our travels. The road conditions were getting worse as the sun began setting and the snow increased.
Once the boys were loaded, we started back towards the Home. Both boys voiced their teasing complaints that “surely the weather was ample excuse to leave them with their families overnight”. I smiled, agreeing with them inside my head, but instead reminded them that I only follow directions, and don’t make them. It seemed to take forever to travel the stretch, and I remember wondering “why are there so many cars on the road in this weather?” I know if I hadn’t been working, I would have been inside my house under a blanket, reading a book or watching TV.
There are portions of the road that local drivers become familiar with when they drive that stretch enough times. Once you go under the bridge and up the hill, the road bends and veers downward abruptly. Even in good conditions, the two lanes which merge into one can surprise any driver. On that particular day, the lanes could not even be seen. There was too much snow, and the snow plows could not keep up. So, coming down the hill, in that space where two lanes merge into one, my car bumped into what seemed to be a bank of slush and the vehicle began to fish-tail.
I was not an experienced winter driver. Most of my adult winters were spent on Vancouver Island where snow is rare, and snow that hangs around is even rarer. The fishtailing gained momentum enough to throw us into a donut, which sent us into oncoming traffic. Time instantly became slow, as many thoughts sped through my mind. I remember the feeling of having absolutely no control over the direction the car had taken. I recall looking at the boy in my passenger seat while he held his head and screamed. I sadly thought, “we are not going to walk out of this alive” – and then we catapulted back into reality-time when I felt the blow of the oncoming SUV. The impact sent us swirling back into our own lane and once the airbags deployed, the car came to a stop.
When the police officer apeared, he asked me what happened. In shock, I simply stated “I lost control of the car”. He left to check the other vehicle involved. Meanwhile, I attended to the two boys, who needed reassuring while the paramedics checked them out.
The back of my Hatchback had been sheared off, and the tear had come dangerously close to the boy who sat in the back seat. All my belongings were sprawled along the highway; Dance shoes, yoga mat, purse, books, bags, etc. Because it was dark, some things never got retrieved, like a favourite blanket and my sparkly ballroom shoes.
I watched solemnly as my long-time car was towed away. My throat thickened, for I lovingly viewed her as my little soldier. She had done everything a car should have done in order to save us from harm. We suffered no glass wounds, no head concussions, no broken bones. She had taken the brunt of the injury. To this day, I picture my unseen spirit-team, manoeuvring my car during the slowing of time, so that the angle of the vehicle during the collision ensured our full safety. After all, the three of us walked out completely unscathed.
When the police officer returned, he handed me some paperwork which included a formal Careless Driving charge. He informed me that none of the passengers within the other vehicle were injured, but that I had incurred a lot of costly services by causing the accident. I looked around at the 2 fire trucks, police, and 2 ambulances at the scene. I was stunned, because up until that moment, my focus had been on my two youths, and their wellbeing. I hadn’t processed that fact that other people – a whole other family – could have been hurt. Even so, the label “Careless Driver” plagued my mind ruthlessly. It conjured up so much internal shame and self-loathing that I felt like hiding away and isolating myself.
Once I knew the boys were in safe hands, and I saw smiles on their faces, I hugged them goodbye. When my brother collected me and took me home, the seriousness of the situation invaded me, and I spiralled into my own post-traumatic release of emotions.
One thing I’ve learned within my lifetime is the value of time, and how using time to process events brings out many layers of wisdom. For the first number of weeks, I was caught in the story of being the victim. “How could they charge me with careless driving when the weather conditions were so awful”. I additionally shamed myself for the unmanifested potential of seriously injuring or killing two youth. I became aware of how harsh my own thoughts could be around judging myself punitively.
I noted my obsession with the words “Careless driver” and felt my ego rise up both in angst and defensiveness. I also experienced the grip of fear and anxiety as I waited for the court date regarding the Carless Driving charge. My mood remained low as I hid myself away from friends and family.
Even so – given enough time, life always has a way of creatively sharing the larger perspective, as well as the gifts that accompany every challenging lesson. And this event was no different. I had done much exploration and reflection yet could not seem shake the idea that the charge was unjust. But things were about to change.
The week before my court date I found myself at a luncheon with an old friend. I hadn’t been with her for two year so we were catching up. By this time, my story of the accident had become so tiresome to me, that I did not want to include it within our discussion. But to my surprise, my lunch partner began describing an accident that had occurred within some bad weather conditions which involved her adult daughter. As my ears perked up, I felt my spirit-team nudge me and say “Listen carefully Laura, this is important!”
As I put my fork down to give her my full attention, she began describing her daughters accident using the exact language; the exact words which I had used to described the way that mine had unfolded many times over the months.
She shared all the same points…“There was a snow storm…The roads were covered with snow and the snow-plows could not keep up with the downfall. There was no visual access to seeing the lines on the road… Her daughter was travelling along a ramp where two lanes merged into one… Her vehicle hit a ledge of slush which fish-tailed the vehicle and sent it spiralling into oncoming traffic. I listened incredulously. Even so, her story then took a different turn.
When her vehicle spiralled into the oncoming lane, a truck collided with her vehicle and the daughter became pinned between the truck and a large pole on the highway. She had been “T-boned”. It took the paramedics 45 minutes to cut her crushed body out of her vehicle so she could be treated at ICU. She incurred significant neurological damage losing her memory of both people and language. After being medically intebated in order to open her airway, she couldn’t speak because of vocal chord damage. Two broken ribs, crushed bones in her arm, plus she endured emergency surgery to remove her spleen. Her face was unrecognizable due swelling and bruising and the doctors told her she would lose the use of one of her hands. It took her weeks to get out of ICU and into a rehabilitation program which resulted in radical changes over the next two years of her life, which included an entirely different career path and skill-set development.
I was astounded how two stories that began the exact same way had two such divergent outcomes. I had watched my friend’s face closely as she described what for any mother would be described as pure horror. And still, to my surprise, I watched myself swallow slowly, take a breath and ask her; “Did she get charged with Careless driving?” After a silent pause and a quizzical look, her response was “No”.
On my drive home after the luncheon I soberly asked myself; “ Which story would you have preferred to experience Laura?” I knew that what I carried over the past months was nothing compared to what this young daughter had endured. I realized that I was given the gift of hearing this story so that I could move-on in my life with joy and gratitude instead of obsessing about my identity-issue regarding a Careless driving charge. I marvelled at how the Divine used ALL life-experience creatively in order to cause the most self-reflection and influence. All of a sudden I could see the magic that existed in experiencing my particular ending to that story that began identically to another’s. I recognized the miracle of walking away from an accident that could have ended so many other ways. In the weeks that followed my ending, I was blessed enough to sprinkle my horrible winter with regular attendance to dance classes.
I recalled a prior mentor telling me that no matter how bad our story seemed to be, that if we found ourselves within a group situation, sharing the woes we were enduring, and then were given the choice to pick up someone else’s story on our way out, that we would invariably take up our own stories after all. This analogy correlates with my belief that we participate in creating our personal blueprints for this life, and that within them we hardwire significant events so that we have the opportunity to maximize our learning and lessons within our lifetime. Things don’t happen because one person is more loved, or more blessed, or luckier than another. Instead it’s about the intuitive knowing which reminds us that this life is a temporary reality; an existance for us to learn, complete lessons and evolve spiritually.
I now endeavour daily to recognize the miracles that occur within my life and within the lives of others. In listening to one other’s stories, we without doubt see a reflection of ourselves. This is why “story-telling” throughout the ages was such an important tradition. All stories, fables, legends, folklore and current events are relevant to us personally if we are awake and introspective enough. Thus, I have re-committed myself to remaining awake and open to the nudging of the Universe. When I find myself being lulled into forgetting – by my ego’s accusations and antics- I’ll remind myself that Ego has the belief that we have identities that are separate and alone. And without that belief, Ego’s existence is in danger of extinction. Yet, in truth, we are not separate nor alone. It only feels that way when we find ourselves disconnected from Source Energy,
Every story has numerous layers of meanings and endings. I’m now ready to accept the golden insights of my particular story and finally let it go.
Blessings to you,