Dear Middle-Aged Male Motorist-Turned-Accident-Victim,
This morning, as we headed south on the same highway at the same ungodly hour, long before I would have normally been awake, you changed my life.
I watched my rear-view and side mirror in absolute shock as your car veered off the road and then flipped side-over-side in the ditch more times than I could count. I could not believe the velocity at which your car catapulted through the air, stirring up dirt, grass, smoke, and pieces of itself.
I placed the most terrifying 911 call I have ever made in my life, never before having had to explain to an operator how I thought I had seen a fatal accident. The handful of other drivers around you on the road at the time had an immediate decision to make: keep driving or stop and try to help. Because you were behind me on the highway, and because the operator assured me there was nothing I could do for you, and because I was on my way to what was – at the time – a very important meeting, I kept driving. I had placed the emergency call, and that was all I could do for you.
As I drove away and tried to concentrate on getting safely to my own destination, I shook and sobbed at the thought of how fast your day – and maybe your life – turned upside down.
I cried when I read in the local paper that another driver had cut you off, causing you to swerve into the ditch, and how he then fled the scene. I remembered that I had seen him stop at first, get out of his vehicle, and survey the damage. What he saw must have scared him beyond reason, because he apparently got back in his vehicle and took off shortly after I drove away.
I cried again when I was able to tell my husband the good news, that you had survived without serious injury. I don’t know how you survived. I am so glad you did. It was the best news I had received in a long time. You must, at the very least, have a sore neck and a new outlook on life.
I’ll probably never know your name, where you live, or your family. But I will remember that I saw your car become a cage that both threatened and saved your life. I will remember the feeling of thinking I had seen another person die. I will remember that life can be taken away in an instant, when you least expect it. I will remember you.