I was the sole witness of this three car accident. I pulled over immediately, terrified of what I would see in that white car. I walked to the window, glanced in, and saw a young woman lying in a position that made it very clear to me that she had died on impact. I knew immediately that there was nothing that I could do for her. I called 911 and began recounting the events over the phone to the dispatcher. Simultaneously, I heard wailing across the street coming from a young girl in a plaid skirt. She was a student at the High School I was on my way to. I ran across the street, threw my arms around her, and allowed her to surrender to my embrace. While sobbing, she pointed to the driver of the Range Rover, another young girl in the same plaid skirt, another student of the High School that I was teaching at.
The dispatcher continued to ask me questions that I felt were not nearly as significant as attending to the needs of these two young students, so I very directly communicated, "Mam, there has been an accident involving three vehicles. I am in this location. I believe a woman has died here. I need police and medical support immediately." I then hung up on the dispatcher.
I asked the driver of the CRV to sit on the curb, while I checked on the girl sitting in the Range Rover that had collided against the sedan. She was frozen in the front seat, paralyzed, she had no idea what to do. "Sweetheart, are you OK?" I asked in the most gentle voice I could muster while I myself was still in shock. She nodded slowly, but said nothing. Quickly, the police and an ambulance arrived on the scene. As expected, the woman in the sedan was pronounced dead. They asked me what I saw. I did my best to recount my story.
This day is burned in my memory. Not just because I saw a woman die, but because it was also the day that I chose to live. At the time, I was very seriously considering ending my life. The depression, fatigue, and health problems from childhood sexual abuse were unmanageable. My job asked too much of me while I was trying to heal. I had very little community support at the time. I felt hopeless and alone. I was ready to give up.
The young woman who died that day was 26 years old: the exact same age that I was at the time. When I saw her lying across the passenger seat, I suddenly understood in a mere moment that life was precious and worth holding onto. I didn't know why it was so precious, but that moment ignited in me a curiosity that motivated me to choose life.
I remember feeling extremely uneasy about the fact that I had just had experienced such a revelatory, salvific moment while observing someone else's death. I felt guilty that my life had changed in such a positive way by being involved in such a negative incident. I called an old friend and asked him how to deal with these feelings. He responded perfectly, "Annie, I don't believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that nothing needs to go to waste." I understood then that the young woman's life was not wasted in that accident, but shared with mine. Her spirit became bound to my spirit. The hope that I experienced in observing her death, empowered me to choose life.
Today, almost five years later, at 31-years-old, I find myself in a similar conundrum: I have spent the last ten years of my life managing chaos, trying to support myself while recovering, and attempting to effectively nourish and communicate to others while still being in shock. Through it though, I have discovered a great amount of meaning, immeasurable beauty, unconditional love, and unfailing support. I, again, am the sole witness to this story and am trying my best to recount it.
Yet in the process I still feel the same uneasiness that I felt that day after the accident: my life now reflects the revelatory and salvific truth that life and love are stronger than death and abuse; but it took a lot of suffering, a lot of loss, and a lot of metaphorical deaths, to get to where I am now. I don't believe that I was abused for a reason, but I do believe that those years need not go to waste. I know now that I need to let the part of my life so devoted to both survival and recovery die, so that I can finally live the life that I have always deserved: a life where I truly understand not just that it is precious, but also why it is so. And as I let it die, I am reminded of the spirit of this young woman in that white sedan, and am confident that like her's, my spirit will not be wasted. Instead, it will be bound to all those who have suffered from similar experiences. My hope now is that the spirit that helped me to survive and recover from sexual trauma will encourage those who want to give up on life, to choose it.
1. Rupi Quotation
3. Bible Quotation
Blog name: Blue&Lavender
Blog URL: www.bluandlav.com
Bio: Anne Lauren is a word weaver, a woman warrior, and a wisdom wayfinder. She authors the blog, Blue&Lavender, which speaks of her experience recovering from sexual abuse and seeks to educate and inspire others to do so. Check it out at: www.bluandlav.com. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium @BlueandLavender.