I have written so many thank you notes this past month, letters on cards or decorative paper. It has been an important part of my healing process. If you can't escape your emotions, shower them on other people, I say! Of course, if I could I would line everyone up in a room, friend, family, stranger, and pass down the line shaking hands, embracing, clapping people on the back and handing them chocolate pumpkins or turkeys (I don't believe in hearts) for their extreme kindness after the automobile accident. Thank you notes are the next best thing, certainly, and last somewhat longer than candy.
During my convalescence I have also been reading a book my friend Holly gave me for a b-day gift, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It is a charming and thought-provoking book full of fictional letters between characters whose lives were altered by the circumstances of WWII. If you are feeling slightly ill-used by life, it will remind you of the horror that others have had to muster through. It will also make you laugh. Inspired as I am by it, I'm writing you a digital letter in this strange new era when the USPS is going bankrupt. Humor me in honor of a bygone era of more meaningful communication.
Anywhere in the world (though most likely in the US, Russia, UK or Ukraine)
Dear Kind Reader,
I am finally stabilizing emotionally. Whew! When I came home from the hospital and was blindsided by my emotions, I wondered why I felt so turbulent when other people go through much worse. Now, however, as I knock on wood to remain steady, I reflect that a month is not so long to be emotionally out of whack after a traumatic event - not that I wish to go back to those strange feelings! I have spoken to people lately about everything and have not broken down in sobs. My friends have said I seem my old self, and I feel it. You can't imagine how relieved I am! I couldn't see the end of that tunnel, what with my eyes being all swollen from weeping.
Nevertheless, I am sadder now. I find it hard to contend with the fact that I was involved in an accident where someone died. I wanted that man to have a wake-up call, a second chance. I think everyone has wondered at those emotions. The man made his decision and could have hurt my children when he ran that red light on a suspended license. I am supremely thankful I hesitated on the green so that he hit just where he did. I'm also grateful that I forgave him quickly in the hospital before I knew he had died. It gave me peace. A friend told me not to be surprised if the anger comes later, but I sincerely hope it doesn't. Heaven knows I don't need the force of anger behind my confusion, sadness and new fears.
I have some guilt that I didn't do more for my children in those first several minutes after the collision, guilt that I didn't try to reach them despite my collapsed lung and broken ribs.That is what my recent nightmares are about, though thankfully I haven't had one in a few nights. In them I fail my youngest children in some serious way. That's why they terrify me. When the collision happened I was stunned and in pain, and I could hear Danny and Ella, hear what was behind their strong cries (or so I comfort myself). If they had been silent, I would have forced that lung to expand and called for them to tell me they were okay. Instead, they were calling for me to tell them that I was, and I tried to tell them...
The what-ifs are like a handicap in my driving now. I see a big truck, and I think, What if that had hit us? It wouldn't have been just me. I've had people tell me, "The What-ifs didn't happen. Let it go. Don't even think about it." But I think the real danger of what-ifs isn't, What if that had happened? but, What if that does happen? That is why you can't entertain them. The world has to be faced and bravely, with faith.
At any rate, the lack of anger or resentment - toward man or God - has been one blessing. I don't ask why it happened. Stuff happens; time and chance find us. I felt I lived a sort of charmed life before this, but I also felt my metal had never been tested - that I had not been challenged as others have been. As strange as it may sound, I felt my time had come for a little misery. I will be more empathetic now and stronger, I hope. And good will come from this. Many have told me this, and I believe it. God and I will work together to bring the good.
Danny and Ella do talk about the crash, about safety glass, about red lights, but I think I should stop talking about it in front of them. Danny thinks a "soccer ball" hit mama. Matthew tried to tell him differently at first, but I want to let him think that. If I keep going over it with other people he'll catch on, and I don't want him to be afraid in the car. They have both done so well processing it, and it's really in large part due to the firemen, their papa, and our friends. I'll tell you more about the amazing kindness of our friends another time.
I'm back to feeling more like a writer. Discouragement is the death of all ambition, so I hope it doesn't find me again anytime soon.
I hope all is well with you. Don't forget to write back soon! Thank you for letting me get this out.
PS Danny will not allow me to drive with the windows down in the van. Maybe it's because Papa told him about safety glass after the accident, or maybe it's because after the collision his window and my own were gone.