April 2018

Thursday, June 9, 2011

There are Angels Everywhere

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.

Paul Simon, “59th Bridge Street Song”
Angels were with me again last week when I was in a bad car accident, but I seem only to have some bruises and sore spots—no broken bones or blood.
I was driving my little Honda Civic Hybrid when a large white SUV broad-sided me, carrying my car 110 feet, breaking a lot of glass and knocking the driver’s side doors in a foot or so. Once I stopped moving, I looked out of what used to be my window to see my first angel on the sidewalk, an ordinary-looking man waiting for the bus (I assume, as he was at a bus stop), and pointing to his phone to indicate that he was calling 9-1-1.
Then another angel, this one dressed as an African-American woman in her fifties, walked up to my “window,” and told me that she hadn’t seen the accident but that she had parked her car up ahead, and she would stay with me until the emergency vehicles got there. She asked if I was okay, and she told me that she also had called 9-1-1. When I heard the first siren, she told me, “That one’s going to another emergency, but yours will be here soon.”
I looked around to see the SUV that had hit me. Though it’s front was bashed in, the passenger area looked untouched. A young man in his twenties or thirties came over to see if I was okay. Maybe that was the driver. I don’t know. I told him I was okay and he walked away. I didn’t see him again. When we heard another siren and saw a fire truck coming, she said, “This one’s yours.” Then there were a lot of flashing lights and firemen and EMTs, and I didn’t see her again. Maybe she flew off, or more likely, she got back in her car and drove away, perhaps having no idea how comforting she had been.
Fireman—more angels--introduced themselves, and asked if I was alright. “Yes, I’m fine, but I can’t get out of the car.” One introduced himself as Mitchell and said that they would get me out, but that they would have to use a saw to cut off the top of the car. I must have looked surprised because he explained, “It’s totaled anyway.” The fireman put a blanket over my head to protect me from the glass, and I listened to them cut the car’s metal and saw light through the blanket as they lifted the roof off.
Behind me, one fireman put a collar around my neck just in case, and then they pulled the seat back down, lifted the blanket from my face, and cut off my seatbelt and my (new!) rain jacket. They slid a board under my back (another precaution), and lifted me from the car and into an ambulance. Four men fussed over me, two of them trying to get blood from my dainty veins, on the seven minute drive to the regional trauma center.
Once at the hospital, I was whisked into the emergency room and attended to by a flurry of medical angels. One very kind nurse angel named Catherine asked me, “Are you okay?” Polite like a good Southern girl, I replied, “I’m good. How are you?” She laughed and said that I was her favorite patient for the day. I love being the favorite.  Pretty quickly, this flock of doctors and nurses cut my clothes from me (my favorite new sweater!), decided I was okay and flew to their next patient.  The one person who remained, a social worker, asked me if she could do anything, “Could you call my partner, and please tell her I’m okay.” She did.
Firemen, EMTs, and trauma docs and nurses kept telling me that I had used one of my lives. Ann pointed out that I had already lost a couple. I was x-rayed and scanned. “There are no broken bones, but you must really have to go to the bathroom.” I did, but I wasn’t allowed to sit up until all of the tests were done. The next twelve hours went quickly for me as my adrenaline settled down and the nurse administered morphine for pain. Since I really was okay, I was not a priority, and Ann and I and our friend Ellen, another angel, just sat there for a very long time.
Ellen sat with me while Ann went to get dinner around 8:30 p.m. Ellen encouraged me to cry, and with her encouragement and the morphine, I finally did. Ellen went home to sleep, and Ann and I listened to the announcement of incoming traumas, short radio announcements that indicated that lots of someones’ lives were changing that night. Some came by ambulance and others by helicopter. I had some applesauce (the best applesauce ever!) around 11 p.m.  as we listened to the announcements and to the stories unfolding around us. (There were three other beds in this room, all surrounded by curtains, so we couldn’t see, but we couldn’t help but overhear the story’s of one motorcyclist, one bicyclist who was “t-boned” by a car, one helmetless bicyclist doing drugs who had hit a curb, one softball player, one burn victim and one man who had had a stroke.)

An EMT said to the man who had had stroke (he was conscious now), “Are these your legs or did you bring a chicken in here?” Presumably, they had gotten to know one another on the ride in. I laughed heartily, and so did Ann, as she said, “That’s rude!” A nurse said to the man with burns, “I’m gonna turn you over and look at your bee-hind because that’s the most interesting part.” I think his burns were worst on his bee-hind. The softball player who had leapt a fence to retrieve her new softball, asked, “Is it typical not to be able to pee?” (The answer is yes.) We  heard, “What’s your name? What year is it? Who’s the president of the United States? Who’s the president of Libya?” I had to pause on that last one.
In my mind, I catalogued the things I had lost in the accident: my car, my brown corduroy pants, my dark green turtleneck, my new sweater, the earrings from Palm Springs, my glasses (where did they go? They had flown from my head.), my new green Gortex raincoat, a pair of Smartwool (they’re the best) socks, keys to the schools where I work, my prism sunglasses, my Adele cd and my Bruce Cockburn cd, my uggs, the Storm season ticket-holder license plate holder, and the garage door opener.

Then I catalogued what I had saved: my underwear and bra, my watch, my book bag, and my life.

I feel lucky.


  1. Mary
    So glad you okay and have so many angels. Not bad for a heathen. :) But I am really sorry about your losing the new Adele CD--you can borrow mine any time--and the raincoat that you recently announced to me you would have for many years. I guess it is a good lesson about not getting too attached to things and being very appreciative of life!!

  2. Mary,
    How terrifying, we are all so fortunate to have angels in our lives...and do our best to be one to others.
    I also have dainty veins--another Edwards trait.
    So glad you are ok and that you have Ann and your wonderful group of friends out there with you.
    Love to you.

  3. Mary,
    I am also glad to know that your angels are hard at work. You inspire me to be an angel to others, as well. Love you! Cathy

  4. Hello Miss Mary,

    This is Kristin C., a student of yours back during your student teaching of sophomore year English at IHS. We ran into each other last at the 2008 caucus but only got to chat briefly. And then I ran into Ann the other day (probably a couple months ago or so), and she let me know you were blogging. Hope it's OK that I'm following along here. As I told Ann, you were one of my very favorite teachers--you were such a crucial encouraging presence in my time at IHS!

    I'm glad you're OK after the car accident!


  5. Oh Mary...surviving such an accident is a miracle. I read recently that what makes something a miracle is gratitude (lots of it). I am grateful for your angels, your stor(ies), and your life. And this great reminder that each of us has angels and miracles in our lives all the time.


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