One thing I miss about CCC is the staff. Yes, most of them are my family, but I also really miss Marilyn Mangrum and my funny girl friend, Karen Hevesy. I decided to get a little “Karen fix” the other day by going to her now retired blog, Proverbs 17:22. If you ever need a good laugh, just read through Karen’s archives. Last week, I laughed out loud as I read Gentle Sobbing, the story of our adventure to a ladies’ meeting at CLC. The whole story is absolutely true, though, as you will see the names have been changed to protect the innocent. I miss these gals!!!
I finally feel comfortable enough to write this particular post. Partially because I have faced near death, and enough time has passed to finally talk about it. The nightmares have stopped and quite frankly, the therapy has helped. And partially because the person it is about has a broken computer and won’t be able to read it for some time. By the time her computer is fixed I can be 4 states away. It started innocently enough. I was invited to another church to receive an award for a story I had submitted. By the time they got a hold of me to tell me to come, I had about an hour to decide whether I could go. I quickly called my husband, got dinner covered and started calling the other staff wives. They had already planned to go, I just had to catch a ride with them. Even today, it sounds so innocent. I guess in all the excitement, I missed the part about who was actually driving. At the time all I cared about was that the driver was not me. Heading towards D.C. in rush hour traffic was not my idea of fun. The funny thing is the story that won, was the one about me driving on the sidewalk. No one asked me to drive. I’m OK with that. I know my limitations. I am not a risk taker. I am not adventurous. I am not brave. Not even close. As I was leaving my house I grabbed a magazine that had just come in the mail. I thought it would give us something to do in the car on the way there. If traffic was moving we’d still be at least an hour in the car. I thought we could chat about all the helpful hints in the magazine. A nice lighthearted conversation . About lighthearted everyday things. I can’t read that magazine to this day. I can still see the imprint of my fingernails in the cover. The flashbacks are too frequent. And vivid. Breathe deeply, I remind myself. OK, better. I have decided to change the names of the people involved to protect the driver. She knows who she is. And so do the other 3 victims…..I mean ladies. So we get in the car. There’s the driver. Her daughter, riding shotgun. A mother and daughter riding in the middle seat, and me in the back row of the van. Completely oblivious to what was about to happen. I was all happy and excited until we’re pulling out and the daughter, we’ll call her…….Lauri….Laurin. We’ll call her Laurin, turns and says “Hey, have you ever driven with….Mari…..Marilou?” Well, no I haven’t. “You’re in for a treat.” Oh…OK. I was like the dog that doesn’t know he’s going to the vet, he’s like all excited until he turns on the street the vet is on. Hey…this isn’t the park! Things started out smoothly for about oh….2 minutes. That was about the time we hit the highway, going really fast…..and no one else was. The first slamming on the breaks, one inch from the car in front us, really sticks with you. Actually, so does the 450th time. And wakes you up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat….a year later. Fortunately the traffic stayed really slow for a long time. This allowed the driver to completely turn around and talk to me…two rows behind her. While inching along and slamming on the breaks every 3 seconds or so. I was sitting in the middle with just a lap belt on but quickly realized, this was a definite shoulder belt situation. If there had been a child’s booster seat I would have wedged my butt into it. The traffic eventually opened up a little bit. Good I thought, she’ll have to turn around and face the road. Yea, we’re gonna go with a no on that. Apparantly, our conversation was more important than you know, the personal safety of….everyone within a 25 mile radius. Traffic slowed up again. So I’m thinking, Ok, if we’re gonna hit something, and I know we are, at least it will be no faster than 10 MPH. That was when the dodging and weaving started. I am not a fan of the dodge and weave. I am a dedicated supporter of, stay in your lane regardless of who you are behind until you get to your exit. Just a note so you know where I am coming from. I also do not make left turns, without a traffic light. I will go six blocks out of my way to avoid a left turn. Ask Jim. He hates it. I always tell him, if I am driving I’m not doing any “fancy manuevers” and this includes but is not limited to, left turns and or 3 point turns and lengthy driving in reverse. You only have to hit the house so many times to give up on the old reverse manuever. They only put those things on the drivers license test to mess with you. So we’re about halfway through our trip when I realize I’m the only person not in the car with their closest living relative. The mother daughter team in front of me, Laurin and…..Maryl are actually holding hands. They’re both doing that nervous kind half-laugh/ half-cry thing. When they turned to each other and shared “I love yous” true panic set in. I looked at the driver and her daughter in the front seats. They were looking at each other deep in conversation. Yes, looking at EACH OTHER, notice anything strange about that? UH, yea, one of them was DRIVING! I to this day do not know how we got there in one piece but we did. We enjoyed the evening. You ever have something traumatic happen to you and you’ll forget for awhile, but there’s something not quite right in the back of your mind? I actually sort of forgot the trauma of the ride there for a while, until it was time to go home. As we walked to the car, a silence fell over us. Well, not the driver. She wanted to get something to eat. We decided on a drive-thru. Because she didn’t have enough to do you know, driving and talking, she wanted to throw in a cheeseburger and a shake. Can you eat a cheeseburger and drink a shake with one hand while driving with the other? No. But you can eat a cheeseburger with one hand, hold a shake with the other and drive with….your wrists. Oh, and if I wasn’t freaked out enough….she decided to take the scenic route home. At 10:00 at night. With no street lights, fog and those cute bright yellow signs with the deer leaping over your car on them, every 25 feet. Oh, and I swear this really happened. Her defroster didn’t work, so she stuck her head out the side window to see. I felt now was the time to say something. Hey,….Marylou….I’m not a great driver but don’t the yellow lines mean…stay on your own side….I don’t think we’re supposed to be crossing them…..over and over again….she couldn’t hear me. Her head was out the window. I decide to call Jim. I love my friends but at a time like this, you need family. I tried to sound upbeat but couldn’t hide the gentle sobbing from Jim. I was all business. I wanted him to know I loved him and he was the greatest husband and were the kids up? I need to tell them of my love for them……again with the gentle sobbing. Jim’s like, OK…..I’ll see you soon…bye? I had taken care of business. I squeezed the shoulders of my brave friends in front of me….and said my goodbyes….when suddenly the car stopped. I didn’t hear a loud crash and as far as I could tell..there were no flames….is it possible? Are we home….safe? Yes. It was over and we had lived to talk about it. Not frequently though. The driver? Oblivious. My driving scared you? Really? What did I do? You were afraid? Really? Yes. Really.