Thursday, February 18, 2010

Still Healing Broken Places

THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK PROPOSAL "Choosing to Grow-Through Marriage"

We bought a fixer-upper and my husband spent most days renovating, telecommuting for his “real” job and going to hockey practices and games. I tried to get used to the grey skies, to life with a two-year-old and a newborn, and to living in a place where I didn’t have a network of friends. My husband was happier and happier every day… and I was not. I was hormonal, sleep-deprived, lonely, frustrated and increasingly anxious. I realize all of what I felt through hindsight observation, but I really was unaware of what was happening to me at the time.

By middle of the hockey season, things were getting better for all of us. I had met some really great people and Haley was not nearly the needy newborn. Nate was coming through his terrible twos and the renovations were getting done. Then our experiment was brought to a screeching halt. It was made clear to my husband that the company ran better with him in Colorado and the request was made that we move back full-time. We were in our house only 5-months and then we had to turn around and head back. We had our moments of anger and frustration about this new reality, but our plans had revolved around his “real” job and we weren’t ready to risk that for our family of four. Hockey wasn’t going to be able to foot the bill, so we put the house up for sale, loaded up the cars, and started back.

I’m sure both my husband and I struggled separately with the emotions we held because of the forced change of plans, but we really didn’t talk as much about it as we did about other things. We simply resigned ourselves to yet another reality and we got so caught up in the details of the move back that we didn’t have time to grasp what we were feeling about it. That drive back was hard for a number of reasons, but most pointedly was the fact that I rolled my car just outside of Des Moines, IA.

It was really icy because a wet snow storm had just blown through and the temperatures dropped quickly just after. We were caravanning, and for a while I had both the kids in my car. We stopped for dinner in Des Moines, and the decision was made to move Nate to his dad’s truck so that he could watch a movie. Seven-month old Haley was going to go to sleep and I had planned to listen to a book on tape. So with Pudge in the lead on I-80, I followed behind with my car in cruise control and Haley quickly dozed off in the seat directly behind me. I could tell that the roads were starting to get slick so I tapped the brakes to disable the cruise and slowed just a little. We started up a slight incline and the back of Pudge’s truck did a fishtail. As I accelerated to make the hill, in that same spot, I felt the ice take control of the back wheels of my car and then as I started into a 360-degree spin toward the shoulder I realized there was nothing I could do.

I hit the grass just off the right shoulder with my back wheels first, but I was coming in sideways. Everything caught once I was off the ice, and I saw the ground come up to meet the windshield. The windshield shattered and the crunch of the frame of the car was instantaneous and terrifying. We rolled once and landed at the bottom of a hill, perpendicular to the highway, on the wheels, and with the engine still running. I couldn’t see the highway where my husband had been, and I didn’t know that he had seen my lights disappear off the shoulder in his rearview mirror. I reached for my cell phone, and simultaneously heard Haley crying in the back. I was relieved to hear her before I even had a moment to wonder about her. I jumped out of the car, phone in hand, oblivious to the freezing temperatures. I threw open Haley’s door and after merely glancing at the crushed and mangled side where Nate had been sitting, I snatched Haley out of her seat and pulled her tight to me. I stared in shock at the tv/vcr that had flown from the back of the car and had landed in the seat next to Haley’s backward-facing car seat.

I think I was trying to dial my husband when I realized that someone was yelling at me from the road. A car had pulled over and asked to help. Dazed by what was happening, I muttered something incoherent and then saw the reverse lights of my husband’s truck. He was backing up on the shoulder and I didn’t need the help of the person who had stopped. Everything was happening in exaggerated slow motion during the crash and I let down my guard a little when I saw Pudge. Before I knew it, he was ushering me through the grass to the warmth of his truck.

He put me in the driver’s seat, handed me his cell phone and said, “Tell them where we are and that you just had an accident.” He then ran back to the car to get some of our things out.

Haley was loaded in next to Nate, who thankfully had no clue what was going on, and I heard a woman talking to me saying, very matter-of-factly, “Ma’am, now where are you?”

Literally, I was between mile-markers on the side of a dark highway and I squinted to see the De Soto sign several hundreds of feet in front of me. But figuratively, I was at a major turning point in my life…I just didn’t know it yet.