Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Here is what happened

I was 19 years old. It was late and cold and I was driving home on a dark mountain road. There was frost melting on my windshield. My breath hung in clouds in the air. My little Volkswagen sputtered along, picking up speed on the decline, heading toward the tight s-curve. Peter Murphy played on the tape deck. Indigo Eyes. 

The other car came around the blind corner on my side of the road, heading straight toward me, coming fast. The driver was drunk. I didn't know that yet. But she was drunk and she was coming fast and there was nowhere to turn.

I didn't have time to hit the brakes. 

My car


I first wrote about my car accident last summer (and some other stuff too), and the emotional and physical scars it left behind. My friend Travis left a comment on Facebook about my post that set a chain of events into motion that I'm going to try to describe to you in this blog.

What Travis said was this: "Wow, Kate. I didn't know about this amazing story. I never even noticed the Harry Potter scar. Thank you for sharing this with the world. That took a lot of courage in itself. Kate, The Girl Who Lived."

And I read his words, The Girl Who Lived, and my very first thought was, "Well, sort of."

Um. Sort of? That was the way I thought of the last 20 years of my life?

Your sort-of life, my brain corrected. It's only ever been sort-of, hasn't it?


  1. Wow. I'm so glad you are sharing this. While I haven't ever been in an accident of this severity, I have had driving-induced panic attacks for over a decade since witnessing someone (and nearly being hit by said person) drive off the side of a freeway. They're completely debilitating to the point where I can't drive for more than a few miles on the freeway and can't drive anywhere where I will encounter a long overpass on the way. I'm so interested to hear about your recovery.

  2. Well I remember the morning after when the news broke, how paralyzing the first days were and Then the weeks and months ahead. Of coarse something of this magnitude is never small but when it happens in a small community and everybody knows everybody it can be so public. These life/game changers are not things you move past, they are things you are always moving through.
    She lived for multiple reasons, some not even on the books yet, but one of them is so she can share her story. Go girl!

  3. Brave lady - living takes intention. I'm just learning that too. (also, ERAG = Emily Reed Allen Gelblum)

  4. I'm glad you are writing about this and hope you find it helpful. I will be following closely as you post.

  5. I'm time traveling back to that 19 year old Kate to tell her that even though we won't meet for many years, I'm so grateful that she survived. May this important writing be a door to reclaiming any parts of you that needed to go inward to be safe.

  6. Your courage to heal is nothing short of phenomenal. Keep on keeping on woman!

  7. I went back and read your post from last year. What has always stayed with me from when you tell the story of your accident is that they asked you if you'd had anything to drink. And you said Yes. (a beat) Hot Chocolate. That one phrase captures your innocence for me. And marks the beginning of the loss of your innocence. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Every time I think that you could have died, that any of those pieces of metal could have gone just a bit deeper and truly ended you, I am overcome with tremendous sadness. I am so honored to know you, and so so happy you lived, even if it means you had to wait until now to come back to life.

  8. I remember that night Kate. You had been at my house eating pizza with Chris. Art called me from the fire station and told me you had been in an accident. I remember Chris was home on leave and didn't want to go back to his base until you were alright. Can't believe it's been that long ago. And now you're a mommy. God is good.

  9. @Dreams and False Alarms
    Thank you, Sarah. I can't believe you remember that detail! I think of that often-- what a different world I was coming from, eh? This therapy won't get me back THERE, but then again, I prefer beer these days, anyway. ;>

  10. @Tania, CharlotteDesmond, Emily, Travis, Julie, Amy, and Judy: Thank you so much for your comments! It is so meaningful to hear from each of you. I'll be posting more soon.

    I am also experimenting with Blogger's HTML to allow me to reply to your comments. You guys are my guinea pigs! This isn't what I was hoping for, but it's a start...

  11. Oh, my God. Kate. I am so sorry this happened to you. Go, you, for taking your life *back*. Take it. It's yours. You deserve it.

    This sentence gutted me: "It's only ever been sort-of, hasn't it?" That says so much.

    My only "real" aunt (I have an adopted aunt) was killed by a drunk driver when she was about 19. I never knew her. She is the Girl Who Died. As hard as life is, I am glad you were the other girl.