In the Blink of an Eye

In the Blink of an Eye {5 Truths From a Very Close Call}Life, for the most part, is full of the mundane, the obvious, the expected.  We go about our daily routines, get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, go to work or school, take care of the kids, make dinner, clean up, go to bed. Repeat.  It is easy to become complacent, to take it for granted, to complain about the little things without realizing what a blessing ordinary really is.

And then, in the blink of an eye, everything changes.  We are jolted out of our reverie, forced to reevaluate, well, everything, and sometimes just get down on our knees and thank God we are still alive.

Our wake up call happened Friday morning.

One minute we were driving on I-75 just, just north of Gainsville, excited to be starting what was meant to be a two-week road trip around the midwest, and laughing at the trailer full of cute little pigs we had just seen rolling down the freeway.

In the blink of an eye {5 truths from a very close call}

The next minute it was pouring down rain and we watched in horror as the car just ahead of us spun out of control, hitting two other cars.  There wasn’t time to stop.  I tried to maneuver to the side but a cement barrier prevented me from driving off the road.  There was no place to go, and no way to avoid the semi truck straight ahead.  We were going to crash.

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That split second before we hit seemed to last an eternity.  I remember thinking I guess this is itWe’re going to die nowOh please God let my babies be okay.

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My brain has blocked out the moment of impact and I can’t actually remember the airbags going off, or the Jeep hitting us from behind, or even feeling any pain.  I do remember realizing I wasn’t dead, smelling smoke, and hearing the terrifying sound of cars still crashing into each other all around us.

In the blink of an eye {5 truths from a very close call}

I heard both my girls screaming and felt relief and adrenaline pour into me.  My only concern was for my kids and getting them to safety.  I remember being confused that the car was talking to me, asking me questions, wanting to know if everyone was okay.  The Bluetooth function had automatically dialed 911.  I couldn’t answer any questions.  All I could do was scream help us, just please help us!

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Both girls were crying that their bellies hurt and immediately my mind flashed to every horror story I had ever heard of kids and seatbelt injuries and internal bleeding.  Within minutes we were all safely in the ambulance on our way to the hospital.

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As it turns out, they were fine.  Severely shaken, with some bumps & mean-looking bruises, but otherwise unaffected.  Husband and I were both diagnosed with cervical sprains–otherwise known as whiplash–but our x-rays and CT scans came out clear and in a week or so we should be good as new.

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But a miracle changes you.

I realized several important truths on Friday.

I am ready for the end

In that split-second just before impact, when I knew we were about to crash and there was nothing I could do about it, I realized I wasn’t scared.  I felt a strange sort of peace and sense of calm that could only come from knowing that my last day on this earth is only the beginning of my eternal life in Christ.

That same morning, perhaps an hour before the accident, Trouble had out of the blue started talking about God:

“Mama, God died on the cross for you and for me.”  
“Yes honey, I know.  Do you know why God did that?”
“Because he loves us SO much.”

 

We are saved by a most gracious and loving God.  When we die, we will go to heaven.  When that happens, we will rejoice.  We are SO grateful to still be here today, but we are ready to go tomorrow.

We are blessed by an amazing circle of family & friends

Less than five minutes after the crash, for some inexplicable reason, I took a picture of our car and posted it to Instagram and Facebook with a request for prayer.  At the time, scared as I was, my only thought was we need to somehow let people know what has happened and we need prayer.

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Our friends & family stepped up in a way that we couldn’t even begin to imagine, doing everything they could to help us from afar.  They helped us find our car (there were so many accidents on I-75 on Friday that the state patrol actually lost track of our car for most of the day), a place to stay (University of Florida graduation meant that every hotel in Gainesville was booked solid), a way back to Punta Gorda, and then even had dinner waiting for us when we finally made it home.  They called and texted and emailed and prayed and surrounded us with so much love we were simply overwhelmed by it all.

There are many times where I take the people in our life for granted, where I nitpick the little things that bug me and forget how fortunate we are to have so many people who truly care.  We are blessed beyond measure.  I don’t ever want to forget that.

Kindness is everywhere

Every single person we came into contact with on Friday was extraordinarily kind.  From the paramedics who went out of their way to make the long ambulance ride as comfortable as possible to the hospital staff who refused to separate us, even when it meant changing up their normal protocol.  There were the highway patrol officers who offered to do anything possible to help us get our stuff out of our car even though the impound lot would be closed until Monday and a hotel manager who gave us a discount on the room even though they were fully booked.  When Chuck walked to Publix from the hotel that evening to fill our prescriptions, the pharmacy tech actually took the time to drive him back herself, just so he wouldn’t have to walk the whole way back in the rain.

People can be mean and selfish and impatient and rude and it is easy to get jaded.   On Friday we saw the other side of human nature, the side that is kind, considerate, and selfless.  We were cared for in so many ways by people who owed us nothing.

Stuff is just stuff

There wasn’t a single moment during our ordeal that I felt even the smallest bit of concern over the stuff we had probably lost in the accident.  I didn’t care that our suitcases were probably destroyed or that my beloved camera had been in the trunk as well.  It simply didn’t matter.  Even when we went to the hotel and had to sleep in our clothes with no toothbrushes or even any shoes for Trouble, it didn’t matter.  We were alive.  My children were safe.  Everything else was irrelevant.

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It doesn’t matter why

It’s hard not ask what if?  What if we hadn’t made that 45 minute stop in Gainesville?  What if we hadn’t switched drivers?  What if I had stopped at that last Starbucks instead of deciding to wait until Valdosta?  What if we had gotten on the road earlier in the morning?  What if we would’ve stayed in a hotel closer to the freeway?  Would we have avoided the crash?

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But the what ifs go the other way too.  What if we would’ve been hit from the side instead of front and back?  What if we wouldn’t have had our seatbelts on?  What if we wouldn’t have slowed down as much as we did?  What if we wouldn’t have swerved to miss the first impact?   Would we be sitting here today?

The day after the accident, as the girls tried to process what had happened and as the reality sunk in, Trouble kept asking “why?”  Why didn’t that truck move out of the way, MamaWhy did we have to crashWhy was that car going so fastWhy didn’t you slow down? Why mama? Why?

We had to explain that sometimes bad things just happen, and we don’t know why.  Sometimes bad things happen and there is nothing we can do except accept it, find the good within the bad, and move on.  Yes, we crashed and we had to cancel our vacation and we won’t get to see our friends or Auntie Linda and yes, we might be a little sore for a while, but we are alive.  We walked away.

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When I look at the pictures of our car and know that my two precious girls were sitting in that glass-covered seat, the one that was actually pushed forward by the Jeep that ended up in our trunk, and yet realize they walked away without a scratch, I am completely humbled by God’s mercy.  There is not a doubt in my mind that angels were watching over us that day, and I am so thankful.  A dorky neck brace and a postponed vacation is such a small price to pay.

The why is not for us to know; all we can do is move forward.

We choose gratitude.

Thank you, dear Lord, for keeping our family safe.

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{ 34 comments… add one }

  • Lauren May 8,

    Ruth – I am SO thankful that you are okay! I cannot believe the conditions of the car and that your girls were not hurt at all! God is so good!!!! I will continue to pray for you all that the images of that day will drift into far memory.

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup May 8,

      Thank you Lauren! It was really incredible to go back and see it the next day and to know we walked away. I hope I never take this miracle for granted!

      Reply
  • Aimilee May 8,

    Wow….seeing those pictures gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes! So happy you guys are okay!

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup May 8,

      Thank you Aimilee!

      Reply
  • Nancy May 8,

    We are so happy that you are all ok. Having 3 little girls myself, I feel like I was right there with you after reading your story and seeing the pictures. I am so glad you can see the good in this and that you felt comforted in knowing that even if your lives on Earth are done, your journey to Heaven will be even better than this life. So few of us can say that we are ready to move on. You are truly blessed to have your family and your strong faith.

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup May 8,

      Thank you Nancy. I couldn’t agree more–we are truly blessed!

      Reply
  • Alisha May 8,

    It took me several minutes to get through this entire post — I had to keep stopping because I couldn’t read through the tears in my eyes! Oh Ruth….I am so sorry that you and your family had to go through all that, but what an incredible blessing that there were no serious injuries and that the only things that were lost were just “things.” As a parent, I can’t (and don’t want to) even think about the things that must have been going through your mind before/during/after the crash. I join you in praising God that you are all safe! xoxo

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup May 8,

      Thanks Alisha! xoxo

      Reply
  • Stephanie May 8,

    Tears rolling down my cheeks……. Thanking the Lord for keeping you and your family safe!

    Reply
  • Melissa N May 8,

    Wiping away tears this morning. So glad you are all safe and sound. Thank you Lord for your protection over this family! Will continue to keep you in prayers as you all heal up. God is so good!

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup May 8,

      Thank you Melissa!

      Reply
  • Sarah @ An Inviting Home May 8,

    Wow, so glad that you guys are ok!

    ~Sarah

    Reply
  • Jennifer May 8,

    God is good … all the time. All the time … God is good. Tears of gratitude for your family, and thanksgiving for those guardian angels.

    Reply
  • LeAllyson May 8,

    I am so glad to hear you are doing OK, and lifted up by your faith in God. Although, not a car accident, I suffered a fall in March. Amazing that passing out on a parking lot can change life so dramatically. I am still on leave from work, while the doctors continue to watch a brain bleed. How life can change in a moment.

    I am trusting that God has plans for me. I pray that your family is well.

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup May 8,

      Thank you for you prayers LeAllyson. I will keep you in mine as well!

      Reply
  • Anonymous May 8,

    Reading your post made me cry…I can’t imagine your emotions going through all of this. You are so right, though, that we all have to remember we are very, very blessed and the things we worry about every day generally don’t matter. I am very thankful you and your family are healthy and safe. Take care!

    Reply
  • Maura May 8,

    I am so thankful you and your family are safe!
    I was in a car accident nearly a year ago, though not quite as bad as yours (and thankfully it happened before I picked up my daughter from preschool and not after!). Like you, I had plenty of general ‘ouch’, some crazy ugly seat belt bruises, and whiplash. About the whiplash? Let me just say, I had no idea. Whiplash sounds like something that maybe people like to take advantage of, for a bigger settlement, or sympathy, or whatever. After my experience, I have a new understanding. You use your neck and shoulders for *ev-e-ry-thing*, the pain can last a very long time, it affects everything you do, and it can come and go rather inconveniently. I’m still feeling it as I type this. I do hope the doctors are right and you and your husband are all better in a week (get off all your pain meds and then give it a while before you settle, just to be sure). If that doesn’t happen, chin up, and don’t let the insurance companies push you around. You deserve to be completely better, even if it takes longer and costs more than anyone would like. You paid your car insurance all these years for this exact reason.

    Reply
  • Kristen @ Joyfullythriving May 8,

    Oh, Ruth. It is shocking to look at those pictures, and it is clear that God was protecting you all! Those lessons learned are good ones, even if it does take a tragedy to make us realize those truths.

    Reply
  • KC @ The Real Thing with the Coake Family May 8,

    I have tears in my eyes reading this. I’m so glad that you and your whole family are OK and walked away unharmed. I have tears because I am always amazed at the kindness that exists in and around us. There are so many amazing and kind people in this world, so glad you had many surrounding you on Friday.
    KC

    Reply
  • Amanda Stoker May 8,

    The Grace of God is an amazing thing and there is no doubt in my mind that His hands were holding on to you and your family that day. You are here for a reason! Praying that you all heal quickly!

    Reply
  • Traci May 8,

    Oh, my heavens! Thank you for sharing. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought about the fact that it so easily could be me in that situation. We homeschool as well, and my kids are always in tow, wherever I go. Thank you Jesus, for your protection and provision!!!

    Reply
  • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom May 8,

    Oh my goodness, I found myself crying while reading this. I am so thankful for God’s protection over you and your family. So glad you are all well.

    Sending you much love, support, prayers, and hugs… lots of hugs.
    xoxo

    Reply
  • Jenica May 8,

    What a miracle! And some people still say there is no God.

    Reply
  • Danielle May 8,

    Oh my goodness, Ruth, I’m so relieved you’re all okay, especially your cute little ones! Your story is just so moving, my hubby is looking at my teary eyes like I’m crazy. I guess it’s a mother thing? Anywho, bless all involved, and again, so glad you’re all alright!

    Reply
  • Pam May 9,

    So glad that everyone is safe. What a blessing! Keep sharing HIS word.

    Reply
  • Karen May 9,

    Joyous that your precious family was protected! God is so good! I would love to know what car that you were driving ~ that protected you so well. A Volkswagen maybe? I am big on car safety. Blessings!!!

    Reply
  • Sharon @ Life After Empty Nest May 9,

    Oh Ruth, Thank God you and your girls are okay! What a horrific accident! Your post about it however, is uplifting, reminding us of so many truths we set aside in the busy hustle, bustle of life! Thank you for the reminder!
    My husband (a Lieutenant for Jacksonville Fire and Rescue) deals with these types of emergencies and frankly I don’t know how he does it. He says adrenalin takes over and all you want to do is help….I know cases with children really touch his heart. I thank God for giving certain people the strength and courage to help others in times like these!
    Praying and Thinking about you and your family! Take Care!
    xoxo

    Reply
  • Marisa May 9,

    Ruth,
    Thank you for sharing your heart and emotion through this post. I can’t even imagine how overwhelming the whole accident and recovery has been for you and your family. I will keep your family in my prayers that there will be no lasting physical and emotional effects of such a scary incident!

    Reply
  • Hannah @Supermommy!...Or Not May 10,

    I’m so thankful that you and your family are okay. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been for you all, but I had tears in my eyes reading about it.

    Reply
  • Claire @ A Little Claireification May 12,

    So very thankful that you and your Hubs and your precious girls are safe. Such an amazing post and I’m amazed you could recap it so soon.
    I was in a horrible head-on accident in KY my sophomore year in college. I remember every second leading up to the impact like it was yesterday and just after impact I remember looking into my rearview mirror in my then flipped Blazer and saying over and over “I’m still alive.” God is so good.
    I hope you had beautiful Mother’s Day today.
    xoxo, Claire

    Reply
  • Diana @ moms Livng Leaner May 13,

    Oh my. I missed this post. So glad to hear you and your family are okay

    Reply
  • Evangeline May 16,

    Just read this. Thank you! What a good reminder that our God is Sovereign and his angels protect us. Blesses be His Name! Thank you for encouraging my faith and reminding me to keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

    Reply
  • Kristine May 17,

    Wow, this post gave me chills. I am sooo glad that you are all okay! Unbelievable!

    Reply
  • Andrea May 18,

    You truly had angels flanking that car. <3 Wow oh wow! I walked away from a 2 seater sports car vs Semi, we were clipped on the driver side because the semi was speeding and lane traveled in our lane and pushed down the freeway by the semi on the front, then got stuck on his driver side wheel ( my then fiance was driving) It changes you. It makes you realize that life is too short and embrace the ones you love. So many things could have happened in a split second to change the outcome. The state patrol who arrived on scene- by looking at our car he was amazed we weren't seriously hurt (oh we were bruised and really sore the next day). The good Samaritan that stopped with us (he was behind us and saw everything) let us use his phone (we had both forgotten our cells at home) and stayed with us until my FIL could pick us up. One the anger subsided… I knew I had been blessed and given a second chance. I quit my job (long commute) and found one closer to home that was meant to be and the timing was because of the wreck.
    Blessings to you and your family and this post just reminded me how blessed we are. I wish you a speedy and spotless recovery.

    Reply

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