This year, like few others, have reminded me how fragile life is… how each day is a gift. How each moment is but one breath away from our last. That sounds morbid, in a way, but it is not morbid to me. It is grace.
February 3 I landed in emerge a second time in 2019 with heart issues. February 19 an echo-stress test revealed nothing. March 10 I was hospitalized. March 12 an angioplasty revealed a minor heart attack and Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), believed to be caused by medication. April 13 I was in a minor car crash. April 22 my doctor’s office called to say they saw a spot on my pancreas when they did a CT of my chest to check my heart. June 12 an MRI showed the spot was gone.
On August 1 I set out for Ohio to attend a conference the next day. My GPS said I would arrive in Millersburg around 9:45pm. About 20 minutes from the border, traffic came to an abrupt halt. I hit my brakes and came to a stop. I leaned my head back, and let out a big sigh.
Seconds later, the sound of metal crunching, followed by an explosion of airbags in my car – all but the passenger dash airbag… and then more metal. It all happened in split seconds. I don’t know if I passed out, or if it was shock that shut down my mind, but a moment later I saw ‘smoke’ and smelled this awful stench. I reached for the door handle, which I could not see under the airbag, and crawled out under it onto a busy four-lane highway. Barefoot. I reached back under the airbag and felt for my trusted Birkenstocks. I realized then that I had lost my glasses in the crash. I felt around the floor, and found what was left of the frame. They had shattered. My left arm stung.
A police officer was nor far behind us, and was already on scene by the time I approached the vehicle that hit me. He stopped traffic and sent us to the shoulder.
I called Tim. That’s the hardest part, I think, calling him AGAIN to say some horrible thing has happened. He has seen me through several near-death encounters, and to tell him the driver hit me (according to him) doing over 100kms an hour and the car is totalled, is not fun. I keenly felt the fact my life was in danger. Tim said he would come immediately to pick me up.
Not moments later three tow trucks arrived and removed our vehicles. The police report was done, and the tow truck driver dropped me off at Walmart. I stuffed my suitcase and belongings in a grocery cart – feeling like a true Walmart shopper – and started looking at glasses frames to pass the time.
Tim arrived and offered to take me back to the car to get the rest of our personal belongings and plates, since the write-off is inevitable, and the items have to be removed. I declined, even though it was the most practical thing to do. I wasn’t ready to see the inside of that car again.
We returned the following evening.
There is something overwhelming about seeing the inside of a vehicle, ripped apart in a split second. Bags, deployed everywhere. Debris strewn inside. Threads. Torn seats. Shattered sunglasses. Sunglasses that were on my face when the crash happened.
For a moment that mess and those airbags looked like the enemy. I felt all manner of emotions. They destroyed my car. The best car I ever had…
I thought about it then… Maybe that’s not so unlike how people feel about me exposing sexual abuse. The airbags destroyed the inside of my vehicle but, in reality, they may well have saved my life, or at the very least, saved me from more serious injury. Given that I was jarred back when I was rear-ended, then hurled forward when my car rammed the car in front of me, I should be in much worse shape. Yet, I am here, alive, with pain and stiffness in various joints, neck and shoulders, a few bruises and an 1/8th inch scrape. Not painless, but not dead.
Exposing sexual abuse is like the airbags. The purpose of exposing is to save lives. But the process of exposing is messy and feels like destruction and looks much like ‘the enemy’.
Hopefully it will save many children the horror of being sexually assaulted, and save many families the trauma of broken relationships, and spare spouses the secondary trauma of watching their partner suffer.
For today, with the freshness of the shock of the recent exposure, many are not ready to give thanks for the exposure of sexual abuse. For today, criticizing the telling of these truths is not surprising. But hopefully one day people will look back at this exposure and thank God for the airbags that have saved lives and changed the course of history, for at least a few children. I pray so.
I’m nearing 50. This is the big year. And I sure know how to celebrate big milestones, having had one of the most eventful years of my life. I have lived passionately, and continue to.
It’s been over 21 years since my first near-death encounter, and almost 13 years since the first heart attack that almost took my life. I made a commitment after that heart attack that I would do what God calls me to do. And do so ‘fearlessly’ – which does not mean without fear, but rather facing fears head on and doing what is right, no matter the cost. I do not regret that commitment.
This weekend, in the aftermath of the accident… with mild headaches on Saturday and mild stiffness… and processing the numerous crises these past few months, I commit, again to do what God calls me to do, going forward. As fearlessly as before.
And… then there’s the practical every day stuff. Like shopping for vehicles ‘before their time’. The premature end of a vehicle is inconvenient. And shopping for a replacement is a small thing, in the grand scheme of things. But a necessary one….
In the inconvenience I continue to believe that God works all things out for good. That includes heart attacks, health crises, and car crashes. Everything. And exposure of sex crimes, especially.
Nothing but death can kill me. While I am alive, I will live. And live as though each day is my last with concern only for what God requires.
~ T ~
If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate. In light of Generations Unleashed’s vehicle being totalled in a crash on August 1, 2019, and insurance not covering the full replacement, your contributions are especially needed and appreciated.
© Trudy Metzger 2019
(for survivors of Sexual Abuse in Anabaptist communities)
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
- Registration for THE GATHERING will close October 1, 2019 or when sold out.
To register: THE GATHERING: Registration
For information: THE GATHERING Information.
To register for concert only: JASON GRAY CONCERT NOVEMBER 2, 2019 LBC 7:00pm
NOTE: After August 1 concert is only included dependant on availability.