On my favorite hike yesterday evening I had a soul-stopping moment.
There is a rather busy road hikers have to cross to pick up the trail again, with no light or stop sign, so cars have to stop to let pedestrians go. I had just crossed the street when I heard that all too familiar sound of crunching metal.
I whipped around expecting a fender-bender. Instead, I watched her car flip off the side of the road and disappear over the drop-off.
I sprinted back across the street, expecting her to be gone. Several people jumped out of their cars and we all joined at the side of the road.
The car was pinned against the base of a tree, which saved it from somersaulting down the cliff. Had there been a passenger with her, that person would not have made it.
Four men rushed down to the car as we called for help. We all watched in horror, expecting the very worst.
Miraculously she was conscious and crying, with no visible injuries.
We are always told that a person should not be moved until help arrives. However, when a car is cradled precariously by a tree with the possibility of plummeting into a creek way down below, that changes things.
And so the guys worked together and managed to bring her up the cliff to safety.
Good-hearted people kept running over to help. At that point there were too many cooks in the kitchen and we had to turn people away. We needed to keep traffic going so the ambulance could actually get through on the narrow, winding road.
Four of us remained with the driver until help arrived. We did what we could for her during that time.
Fortunately, one man was a physician and besides being extremely shaken up, he could tell that she was alright. Effing lucky as all get-out, but alright.
The other man called the young woman’s mother. It was heart-wrenching to watch her attempt to form a complete sentence on the phone, but you could see that just hearing her mom’s voice was the best thing for her while we waited.
The other woman I was with covered her shaking shoulders with a shawl and I gave her my bottle of water. We continued comforting her as best as we could.
Naturally, it seemed like years before the reassuring sound of sirens echoed in the distance when it had probably only been minutes.
I answered a few questions and then I began my long hike back home in a daze.
This was only my second hike since a pretty awful bicycling accident I had with Silvie a couple of weeks ago when I hit a jerk of a pothole. (Hence, the Band-Aid pic above.)
I crashed and burned on my way home from work, because I wasn’t paying attention the way I should have been. I paid for it too, with a mosaic of bruises, bumps, and scrapes all over my lower body. Crotch bruises…not fun.
I had trouble sleeping and walking for a week. Naturally, Yoga and hiking were out of the question. But I got back on Silvie the bike again two days later. Because after all of that, I was banged up but alright.
Sometimes we crash. The important thing about crashing is to learn from it, to recognize that life is precious and very, very fragile.
We live in a world of distractions that alarmingly moves faster and faster each day. Our minds are cluttered, trying to keep up with it all.
I’m not writing this to campaign against texting and driving, because duh—don’t do that.
I’m writing this to say two things…
- There is no such thing as being too present. Slow down, pay attention, and be in every moment as much as you possibly can. It may save your life.
- No matter what happens—an accident, a disaster, a crash—we are there for one another. The beauty of the human heart will always come through. And that, lovelies, is a powerful thing.