I stood in front of the mirror that morning getting ready for my flight and going over all 10 billion last minute things in my head, praying to a god I stopped believing in that he would keep Jesse sober while I was gone or at least not let him drive with the kids in the van this time, and I looked straight into the mirror and saw a girl I didn’t know anymore shine through from behind my eyes. And in a flash the glimpse of who I was and might still be was gone again. That girl would play a wondrous game of hide and seek with me for years to come. But that specific morning with my bags packed and my mind set on the chore ahead of me I knew deep down inside of me that something was changing. It wasn’t a change for a good or a bad, it was a finality and closure on my life as his wife, that life. That feeling was similar to the one I woke with in February of 1995 when I found myself unable to move and feeling a searing of dark aching pain like I had never experienced before. My face was wet from something dripping slowly on my face and it was dark, so dark and cold around me. I could not make sense of what was happening or where I was and tried to grapple with whatever moments I could recall from the last memory I could form.
I could taste salt and smell a putrid burning smoke. In the distance I heard a scream, a faint gripping wail and as I tried to keep my eyes open and assess why I couldn’t swipe at whatever was pouring harder and colder on my face I had a flash. We were speeding down the Woodsboro road and laughing and yelling about a wallet. I had my boyfriend’s hand in mine as was enjoying the nervous butterflies in my tummy as we drove faster towards the second party I was ever attending on the first and only day I ever hooked school. The liquor bottles clinked in the back seat from our earlier underage purchase, one of which was a little emptier than the other since my boyfriend decided to partake a little early. It wasn’t the booze in his system that are to blame for his “failure to negotiate a turn”, as the Frederick News Post put it all those years ago, but none-the-less, we missed that right turn and soared left into the air clipping off the top of a telephone poll and hit and rolled several times before landing upside down in against a tree in someone’s back yard.
The incessant wet across my face was the rain beating on my face between the torn metal of the car. The searing cry I heard faintly was my own growing louder as I came into consciousness. I was trapped, my arms bound to my side by the seat I was twisted and wedged between. My head and torso twisted up and under the passenger seat dash and my legs and hips lay twisted and trapped in the opposite direction across the back seat. I could feel my toes I told myself, I could move them side my shoes so I knew I was not paralyzed. I rapidly tried to mentally touch every part of my body…fingers…wiggle…check…eyes…blink….check… heart…beating…racing…check… mouth…hurt to move….but I was screaming….so check that too.
I passed in and out for a while but one of the times I woke, at least I believe I was awake, I saw a face staring back at me in the dark. Even in my given circumstance I knew that wasn’t making much sense but I went ahead and talked to that person and listened to what they said. As we talked I felt a calm come over me, a knowing from inside a core piece of myself that I would be ok but that it wasn’t ever going to be the same for me. It wasn’t my time to die that day rather it was my rebirth and a time for me to learn how to crawl, walk, and run in yet another part of my life, much the same way it was that morning that I was getting ready to board a plane in Albuquerque and head to back to BWI in Maryland after 5 children and 8 years. I let the calm come over me and rise up from within me again, the same way I had back in that twisted and totaled mustang. This morning I took a very deep breath and the next step that would lead me back into the arms of that sarcastic blond boy from high school that was opening up his home to me as nothing more than a friend… or so we thought.