Friday, February 3, 2012

Two Years Ago Today

I told myself I wouldn’t post about it this year, but it was a night that changed mine and my daughters’ lives forever. How do I not acknowledge it somehow? Some may think I’m giving it power over me, but I feel as though every time I talk about it, that power weakens and makes me a stronger person.

Two years ago today a man committed suicide by walking into the path of our car.

It was a little after 8 p.m., my daughters and I had just left a shopping center we rarely went to because it was a bit of a drive. Shortly after getting on to Highway 101, I had settled into the far-left lane, Dawn sitting in the passenger seat to my right, Valerie in the back seat directly behind me. Traffic was light, it was very dark, no lights shine on that particular stretch of highway. In a flash, I saw the man as he stepped across the line from the middle lane into mine. There was nothing I could do, all at once I heard myself make a noise (of disbelief, a person!), slammed on my brakes, held tight to the steering wheel and turned my face toward my side window and away from the windshield’s glass and dirt from the highway that hit us full on as this person made impact and then tumbled along the length of our car.

I managed to get my window down so I could see where I was going and pull the car over to the median. We didn’t spin out. We didn’t flip. We were alive! Dawn and I were spitting out shattered glass and dirt, and I kept screaming, “I hit a person! I hit a person!” and Dawn kept looking at me like she wasn’t hearing me (later she said her brain told her it was a tree or a pole or something). We couldn’t wrap our brains around what happened. I wouldn’t let anyone leave the car because I’d heard of people getting hit by passing cars. Or maybe I was frozen with fear, I don’t know, but when we saw headlights pull over behind us, we finally crawled out of the car, all of us covered with tiny shards of glass (weeks later we were still finding it in our skin).

Valerie, my brave Valerie, told us to stay where we were and walked back toward the headlights of the CHP, the man’s body silhouetted on the ground in front of them. We watched as she spoke with the officer, watched as he bent down to check the still figure on the ground. When she walked back to us and told us the man was dead I felt like I had lost my mind, the grief was so all encompassing. It was a night that never ended.

When I would hear about people having some type of catastrophic experience I’d think, oh, man, how awful, those poor people and then go on with my life. But now I look at them in a whole new way, I know the terror, fear, grief doesn’t stop when the incident is over. We have yet to find the right counselor(s) to help us work through this properly. It’s better, but we’ve all been left with PTSD and still struggle with what happened. The nightmares are less frequent, but I still have them, and sometimes I can’t get it together enough to get dressed, cook dinner, clean house, let alone go anywhere. I especially don’t like to drive, but I do it because it’s such an integral part of my independence.

But the thing that makes me feel the saddest is how it took away the innocence of my daughters, that joy that is innate in all of us before something tarnishes us. We are working to bring some of that joy back into all of our lives. We are broken, but who isn’t to some degree? We will be okay.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9

Killing yourself may end your pain, but it only creates more for those left behind. If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please, seek help, 1-800-SUICIDE, that’s 1-800-784-2433.


  1. that was so moving dorothy. i hope you can get over this and not let one person take control of your life like this. i cant imagine what you went through but i hope you find someone to talk to. love nancy

  2. Dorothy: Dad had said something to me about you having an accident. It sure sounds like a very trumatic event. I know you are still recovering and probaly will, especially on the "anniversary" of such an event. Thank GOD bad memories usually fade away and the good remain. I try to keep you supplied with humor when I get it.

    Ernie (Gus)


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