Even now, when I’m putting gas in my car, the smell brings back memories of that day. We woke up with a clear picture of who we were and what we wanted to achieve. But when we went to sleep that night, we knew we would never be the same again.
Just another day
The day dawned crisp and clear, like any other Las Vegas morning. As usual, our house in the suburbs was in chaos. Between preparing ourselves for work and getting our children ready for school, we hadn’t even sat down to eat breakfast as a family. It’s funny, the little things you remember.
My husband’s car was in the shop for servicing. So, we all piled into the minivan and left the house. I remember that I was angry with myself because I’d forgotten to start the dishwasher. I resolved to stop by the house once I had the car to myself and start it.
The moment that changed it all
The children were arguing in the backseat. I was irritated by the noise and turned around in the passenger seat to tell them to zip it.
The pressure of dropping everyone off on time, the dishwasher, and an argument with my husband about our annual vacation were all on my mind. Who could know that hours later a life altering event would happen?
For a long time, all I could remember was the smashing of glass and the sensation of flying. Later that day, I would wake up in the hospital, with my mother by my side.
When the memories returned
Over the next few days, the fog in my brain cleared, and I started to remember precisely what had happened. I heard my husband shouting as a truck barreled toward us on the wrong side of the road.
I could hear my children screaming and a terrible crunching sound. And then there was silence. I saw the world turning upside down as the car rolled over twice, coming to rest on its roof.
I saw my life flash before my eyes, a collage of scattered pictures. I tasted blood and fear in my mouth as I tried frantically to loosen the seatbelt so that I could check on my family. And then, I smelt gas and smoke.
All my maternal instincts kicked in. I still can’t remember how I got myself out of the car. I remember my husband’s face as he too fought his way out of the vehicle. Together, we pulled our children from the vehicle.
In the distance, I heard approaching sirens. People were coming up to us, trying to help. A man was frantically speaking to a 911 operator. Miraculously, a doctor had witnessed the accident and was examining my daughter. She was unconscious.
Then there was the turbulent ride in the ambulance, speeding the few miles to the hospital, sirens blaring. And the clatter of the gurney carrying my daughter going through the hospital entrance. And the world turning black as I finally succumbed to unconsciousness.
We were fortunate that we were able to recover from our injuries and the trauma caused by the accident. Our lawsuit was successful. The negligent driver was tried and convicted. The insurance paid for a new car. But nothing can ever erase that fateful day from our minds. It put an indelible mark on my family, and we are lucky to be alive.