The One Left Behind
by Becca Cross
(Boise, ID, USA)
This will be the first time I have ever written out what happened that night. I feel like I've told the story so many times that i'm disconnected from it, sort of numb about it. Though writing it out is different. I guess harder.
There's something eery about how the day that changed your life is so much like every other day. Mine was Thanksgiving 2010. The early evening started with funny moments spent with my family and the thanksgiving works. The next day I was planning on working a double for black friday, so I didn't have much planned for my night but staying in with a few close friends. I left my dad's house later that evening and went to pick up a close friend (Dani) in town from salt lake. We headed back to my house where we were met later by another close friend (Jamie). Since i had to work the next morning and Dani was leaving back to salt lake in the morning the last thing we wanted to do that night was go out for a few drinks. However, Jamie, who happens to be very convincing whined her way into getting us to go downtown with her. We made it there, had a few drinks, definitely one too many. Most of that night was a blur, just a few snapshots that were more like dreams than reality. I woke up in the ICU three days later. The first thing i did was motion to my mom for a pen so that i could write- i was unable to talk with the tubes in my mouth. "What happened?"
My mother responded to me "you don't remember?" I had been conscious for the car accident and the few days following, however my mind had failed to let me retain any of that information. "You were in a car accident"
"Where's jamie??" My mother looked down and pushed the words out "She didn't make it"
"Where's Dani??" "I'm sorry honey, she didn't make it either"
It was like a crushing pain, I cried, and i wanted to break down but my body hurt so bad that i couldn't allow myself to shake with the emotion that i felt, so i laid stiff and wept softly. The next thing i thought about was my own injuries...was i going to be OK? My mother went on to tell me that we were in seattle--flown from our boise home-- to have an aortic stent placed in my heart where it had torn from impact. I had a plate put into the left lower half of my leg, and into my right arm. My right leg suffered from a compound fracture where my leg had completely snapped in half and tore through the skin. This particular break had to have a rod inserted inside of the bone. I suffered from 5 cracked ribs, a collapsed lung, minor liver damage, and fractures in my spine. I stayed in the hospital for a total of 18 days. When i think of it all now, it was such a blur of emotions and so much pain-physically and mentally. I was the only one left and i had lost two friends- no two people i'd ever loved more.
The police naturally investigated the accident due to the death of the people involved. Through the months i would hear tidbits of information that involved what happened that night, and about 6 weeks ago the police report was finished, and i got to read the details of that night.
Around 2:00 AM we had left the downtown area with Jamie driving, me in the passenger seat and Dani in the seat directly behind
Jamie. We were about 10 minutes away from my house traveling in the left westbound lane going approx. 48 miles an hour in a Kia Optima. Within seconds a Lincoln Towncar traveling in the eastbound lane going approx. 77 miles an hour (45 being the posted speed limit) crossed the center turning lane and hit our vehicle head on with more of the impact concentrated on the drivers side. Witnesses said there was not enough time for us to react and that we had no time to even break. It was like hitting a brick wall at 125 miles an hour. The impact alone made the car lift seven feet off the ground. The engine of the vehicles were basically sitting in the laps of both drivers. Jamie was wearing her seatbelt, and Dani and myself had not been wearing ours. They found Dani in the floorboards in the backseat, and they believe that since i wasn't wearing my seatbelt, that the airbags kept me in my seat and saved my life. The person who had hit us had a BAC of 2.84, and had just left the gas station where the attendant had tried to get him to stay and not drive but could not hold him against his will. He let him go but called him in, and the police received the call just minutes before he hit us. Jamie had been drinking that night as well. Her BAC was 1.54. The whole accident was a very public experience and there was many stories that were written following up, including one about how jamie had been drinking as well. I ended up reading the article online and reading the comments people had written "Well at least they hit eachother!" "Thank god it wasn't someone who didn't deserve it!" Just horrible things.
I don't blame the guy that hit us (who also died) he had numerous conflicts with the law including 2 DUIs and he had just received his license a week ago and he was driving drunk again. I blame the system- I think it failed him. He should have been better monitored and at least of had a breathalizer in his vehicle.
Jamie and Dani died instantly. Ironically both of their aortas had torn as well, and for some reason I'm still here. Left very alone. And missing them every day. Along with my emotional pain, I also deal with the physical pain as well. The trauma from my right leg caused nerve and tendon damage. I am unable to bend the lower half of my foot and toes and will probably never be able to wear a pair of heels again-which really is the least of my problems, but still one of those little things you take for granted. I have constant chronic pain in my knee where the rod was inserted, at the break site, popping of my ankle, pressure on the joints that can no longer bend, hypersensitivity, numbing/needling pain, electric shocks of pain, there is never a moment where i am pain free. It's been almost four months and i wonder if i'll ever get to run again or walk down the stairs without having to do one foot at a time. It's a tough start for my 22 year old self. I wonder every day of my life why I'm still here. Why I couldn't have just gone with them, to be pain free. Free from the pain of losing them, free from the chronic pain. The hardest part is that everyone around you feels so lucky to have you, and so lucky that you are here. Yet, I just feel like the one that was left behind.