On Wednesdays Benno goes to swimming lessons and we go to town for the weekly shop – animal feed, essentials and fruit for the 3 foot fruit bat! Normally we are running late, but last week we were even early, despite Tinkerbell having escaped from her starvation paddock and spending time putting her back where she belonged.
We have two new Swedish wwoofers and they were in the car with Ben and I too. We were all set for our big sojourn in the city. A little sleepy but fine. About 25klms after we got off the dirt and onto the highway there was a bang and that unmistakeable noise of a flat tire. The car swerved violently and skidded and I managed to steer it down in the grass gutter and along the side of the rock wall for about 20 metres before the car was spat out onto the highway and the impetus flipped it onto the passenger side. We traversed the highway on our side for approximately 50 metres at a 45 degree angle and ended up trapped by the guard rail on the opposite side of the road.
Ben was crying and saying ‘I don’t like it, I don’t like it, make it stop’. I kept repeating like a mantra ‘It’s OK, it’s OK, we’ll be ok’. Like a prayer.
I turned the car off and turned around to look at him and talk to him and try and reassure him. We were all suspended by our seatbelts. I spotted the sunroof, so trepidatiously I turned the car back on and flipped the switch which slid the sunroof all the way back. A man was there and he reached in and got Ben out. Next was Lovisa in the front passenger seat. Then Elin in the back. Finally me. With my right foot glued to the brake and hands clenched on the steering wheel, it took a minute to work out how to extricate myself without falling on my head.
Everyone was fine. The girls and Ben were crying and I immediately started removing everything from the car. I don’t know why except that I always seem to need to be doing especially when my heart is racing and adrenalin coursing through my system. I think I thought that the police would be there immediately and we would be taken away, or the car would explode or something. I may not have a TV but clearly in my life I have seen too many movies who paint a very different picture of reality!
I still feel guilty that I didn’t just grab onto Ben and hold him until we had to be prised apart. The tyre was still intact, no blowout, but the tread had sheared off the tyre just like a retread. It wasn’t a retread though, I’ve never put retreads on any car I’ve owned.
We were so lucky. Lucky that nothing was coming the other way. Lucky we didn’t have someone up our arse. Lucky that the guard rail, which only started 3 metres before, was there to save us. Lucky that there were people to help us. Lucky that people stopped to slow down traffic and keep us safe as we sat on the side of the road for an hour waiting for the police and a lift away from the scene. Lucky that neither of the passenger windows or the windscreen smashed. Lucky that the car was so strong and didn’t crush or crumple. Lucky that we had the sunscreen so we could get out so easily. Lucky, so lucky to be alive.
There was another story on the road that day and thanks to any number of angels looking out for us, and protecting us, and our lives were saved.
Suddenly everything and everyone is beautiful and I realise just how precious this life, this body, is. And I can’t even express the fear and horror of what could have happened to Ben.
Suffice it to say that I am changed by that split second on the road that day. By what might have been. By what is. I was derailed and I am picking myself up, dusting myself off, saying a sad goodbye to my beautiful car and my previous way of being and walking into my future with a different attitude. Living in the present. Phew!