Remember the advice your mom always gave you? She said to make sure you always have clean underwear in case you’re in a car accident and somebody sees it. My added advice is to make sure you are showered before a road trip. Even if you think nobody will see you. Just let your vanity be your guide and take the stupid shower!
On Thursday Gwen and her cousins, Melina and Breena, went to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to be pampered as princesses.
This is what Gwen looked like. The fairy godmother took my baby away and left this Disney Diva in her place. It took some convincing to take off the hair piece and crown and what not so Gwen could sleep that night. I decided not to bathe her since Gwen hates baths and she could get cleaned up as soon as we got home the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Who was going to see us? A handful of random strangers at maybe one rest stop on the way home? I also chose not to shower since nobody was going to see us. We were just going to drive home. Why not save some time and just go?
I had a dirty ponytail and zero makeup. I did put deodorant on. Gwen looked like her coach had turned into a pumpkin along with her fancy look. She had tons of glitter in her hair compared to her cousins and when I brushed her hair back into a ponytail on Friday huge flakes of hair product were everywhere and she still had the body sticker on her cheek. She also insisted on wearing the crown. She looked pretty crummy. But who was going to see us, right?
The drive from Disneyland to our house is long. We decided to break up the trip a little for a couple of reasons. First, Heath’s family had to leave to catch a shuttle to the airport at 5:00 pm. There was nothing to prevent us from staying at Disneyland as long as we wanted on Thursday after they left. We had paid for the full day so the plan was to stay as long as the kids could stand it. If we had a hotel to go to we could rest up and start fresh in the morning. So thanks to Priceline we booked a room at a Hilton in Glendale for $70. Score!
Friday morning came with low blood sugar. I suspended my pump and ate some fruit snacks. I figured if I was still awake at 6:00 am I would get up and shower but as my blood sugar resumed normalcy I drifted back to sleep until 7:00. Heath was dog tired and we had all day to get home so there was no sense of urgency to get up other than we just wanted to be home.
Heath got up and showered and we packed up the few things we took with us for the quick overnight stay. We loaded everyone into the van and gave all the kids water bottles and bagels for breakfast. We left sometime around 8:30 am. We drove along a little when Heath told me to start looking for McDonald’s so we could grab some breakfast to go. Not too many exits later we were getting off for breakfast. Parker was uncomfortable in his coat so we told him to take it off since we weren’t going to get out for a while. I regretted telling him to do that later when he was cold and scared. He took it off and we put our two large Diet Cokes in the van’s cup holders.
Heath got back on I-5 heading north. He finished his breakfast sandwich and was working on his hashbrowns. I had eaten about half of my breakfast sandwich and had not yet taken one sip of my Diet Coke. I remember taking a bite while a driver next to my window happened to glance over. Then I noticed a man driving a black Mustang on my right.
His car pulled up ahead of us and I noticed he had no license plates. I remember wondering if he was test driving the car or if he had just bought it. I turned my attention back to the lane we were driving in and I saw that it was filling up fast. The freeway was extra crowded at that point and our lane was slowing down. Because I am a panicky passenger I started applying my imaginary brake and thinking that Heath needed to slow down, which I could tell he was.
Suddenly black Mustang cut in front of us from the right. I was going to comment on how I couldn’t believe he managed to fit in the space that was barely big enough for his car. I was going to comment about how he must be crazy to move into a lane that was clearly stopping. But there was no time. As soon as those thoughts came they were immediately replaced with me silently screaming at Heath to hit the brakes even though I could tell he was slowing down. I knew there was no time to stop. Heath was braking hard and a split second before it happened I thought, “He’s given up. We’re just going to do this. Ok, let’s do it. There’s no time to stop.” I made my peace with it.
BAM! Seatbelts immediately tightened while air bags deployed. Diet Coke sloshed everywhere. Gwen was crying that it was scary. Heath angrily hit his hands on the steering wheel and we simultaneously said the same naughty word (sorry Dawn). Then OnStar started talking to us.
It was so surreal. I saw it coming. I knew it would happen. It was bizarre to remember seeing other cars on the road as if it was some dramatic foreshadowing in a movie. I stared at my half eaten sandwich and thought, “I just bolused for this and overestimated on the carbs. Should I keep eating?” I decided not to because it seemed inappropriate after a car accident plus I couldn’t find the bottom of my English muffin. I turned off the dual wave and noticed there was not a drop of Diet Coke left in the cups.
Heath got out and I answered OnStar’s questions. When they asked how many cars were involved I said, “I don’t know. I think just two.” As I said it I felt weird. He asked if there was anyone he could contact for us. I thought of Dawn but I said no and told him not to worry about calling anyone right now. Heath opened his door and told me to get out and get the kids out and stand on the left side of the road. I told OnStar we had to get out and Heath told them the first responders were there.
My door opened but it creaked and groaned just like Heath’s door had. I stepped out and had to manually open the side door because it wouldn’t open automatically. Gwen was crying that it was scary. When she saw the van she kept saying, “Van broken! Van broken! Oh no!” Parker was totally traumatized and was so worried about the logistics of everything. I was so mad. Normally I have an emotional reaction to things but for the first time in my life I knew exactly what had just happened and what it all meant and how if it didn’t cost us dearly financially it would at least be a huge waste of time as we tried to resolve it. I was completely aware that the law states that if you rear end someone you’re at fault and I was mad because it was not our fault that some guy in a new car cut us off leaving us with no time to react. I knew it all right then and I was mad.
I comforted my kids as best as possible which looking back on it makes me proud that I’m not as selfish as I thought. They were my number one priority. We walked across the road and stood with several other people. I remember looking at everyone thinking that was a lot of people for a two car accident. Then I saw a few more cars stopped in front of our van. That was the first I realized we were the last car in a five car pile up. The people were so strange to me. Nobody said a word. Everyone stared straight ahead with blank expressions. I guess I expected people to be excited and have a lot to say. Not one word other than me quietly comforting my kids.
CHP had drivers involved get their cars to the other side of the freeway. Our van was stuck to the Mustang so CHP told Heath to push the Mustang to the side. He said that was weird to have to help the guy who was the reason why were in this mess. Then we stood around while officers got information from people. Heath was visibly shaking. That really stood out to me. I was completely fine. No heart pounding or anything. He dealt with giving his statement to the police while I comforted kids. The officer told me he would come back to get my statement. He never did though. I think everyone there knew my statement when my brain shut off and I yelled at the Mustang driver. I overheard him say that we hit him. He didn’t say it in an accusatory way or anything but I lost it. Surprisingly what came out of my mouth, without me knowing what I was doing, was very tame. I said and I quote, “Dude! You cut us off! There was no time to stop! That’s why we’re halfway up your car!”
An officer held out his arms as if to keep us from hitting each other and told me to calm down. He said not to talk to the guy but to talk to the officers. I knew that. We finished up with the officers and got into a tow truck. Heath was able to disconnect from the Mustang and drive the van up onto the tow bed. Then we rode to Santa Clarita City Towing for what was promised to be a short amount of time.
Several hours later and a lot more drama we were finally on the road. See, I told you to just shower! You never know what a day has in store. Stay tuned for Chapter 3 where I do some serious company name dropping.
As a side note, Heath told his mom about the accident and we were able to talk to her while we were getting a ride in the tow truck. We decided not to tell my mom until after we got home because she would have lost her mind with worry. She was grateful for our decision. She knows how she reacts. When Heath told my mom the whole story on speaker phone later that night that was the first time I let any emotional part of it sink in. I was shaking as he told the story. All day I was stoic and just took care of kids and whatever we needed to do to get home. I never let it sink in until I had the time to later when we told my mom.
The strangest part was when Heath got a voicemail message from our Bishop soon after we got the rental truck. He said he heard we were in a car accident and wanted to make sure we were ok and help if he could. I had to laugh. I thought, my mom doesn’t even know how does the Bishop know? Dawn. Thank you by the way. Not everyone in the ward knew today but a few people mentioned it. We figured if people don’t read my blog or hear the rumors we weren’t going to say anything. Some ward members are dealing with far worse trials than a car accident we were able to walk away from.