Car crash, close calls & the fragility of life

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.

And then…

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 trust 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 while this one didn’t injure me severely, to tell him the driver hit me (according to him) doing 100km’s 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… Well, technically it was Generations Unleashed’s car, but the one I drove most.

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 severe 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 rough shape. Yet, I have relatively minor pain and stiffness in various joints, neck and shoulders, only a few bruises and an 1/8th inch scrape. Not painless, but unbelievably good.

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.

As always…

With love,
~ 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 info@generationsunleashed.com. 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

 

THE GATHERING
(for survivors of Sexual Abuse in Anabaptist communities)
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:

  1. 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.

Father’s Day Blessings, to all the Broken & Imperfect Ones

“You patiently loved me when I was difficult… You celebrated my achievements…” The card in my hand spoke all manner of nice things about fathers. I put it back, picked up the next one. “You were always there for me, loving, caring and teaching…”

Every year it was the same thing, standing in front of the card rack, trying to find a card that said, ‘In spite of everything, I love you! Happy Father’s Day’, without all the other niceties that didn’t fit. Every year the same quiet breaking of something inside and the wishing I could either experience the wonder of having that ‘Daddy’, or say it as it really was…

“Dear Dad, 

Every year when this day rolls around my heart hurts a little… because every year I am reminded of what a father-daughter relationship could be. I am sad, not only for what I lost, but what you missed out on. In fact, if I am perfectly honest, I feel more sad for you than for me… It must be lonely, surrounded by children, but with walls around your heart, that keep them out…

I know you’ve been hurt, and it is hard for you to risk relationships, hard for you to trust, even your own children. And you have hurt us–hurt me–and you find it hard to forgive yourself, or accept forgiveness, because you feel helpless to overcome the cycle of abuse. Truth is, I can’t imagine living with some of the things you have done, and I don’t know what to do with it, in our relationship…. In spite of all of this, you are my father, and I love you. There is a deep desire within me to have a relationship with you that is real; to face the brokenness of what has been, with honesty…. and that desire will never go away. Because every little girl wants to be her daddy’s princess.

Today I will settle for being your daughter, and love you and bless you, broken and imperfect, believing that one day our relationship will heal.  

With Love on Father’s Day, 
Your daughter

Dear Daddy_All I ever wanted

I never found a card that arranged those kinds of thoughts in poetic verse, or incorporated them into something ‘Father’s Day appropriate’. And I never had the courage to write these things out or even say them, other than quiet whispers, through tears, to my Heavenly Father–my ‘Papa’–when I shared those deep desires, hoping one day He would heal.

And God granted my request. Every Father’s Day I remember with deep gratitude sitting by his bedside numerous times in his last eighteen months, watching him weep, listening to a broken man speak from a place behind the walls of his heart. His grief, at who he had become and what he had done, and all he had lost because of it, along with gratefulness for mercy, poured out in those tears. And almost every year, on Father’s Day and the anniversary of dad’s passing, I think of ‘Living Years, by Mike and the Mechanics‘ and thank God we had some healing and some conversations in the living years.

Harder Family in Mexico

Granted, there was so much history that all we could really do is acknowledge it, and each deal with it in our hearts. There is no undoing it, no ‘unremembering’ or forgetting. There was only ‘remembering with grace’, and working through the trauma, one layer at a time, with the ‘knowing’ that God will redeem it, somehow. And I thank God for this redemption.

****

Today, to all you dads–the good and whole ones, and the imperfect and broken ones–your daughters and sons long for relationship. They may have tough exteriors and broken hearts, but behind those fronts is a deep longing, buried under the pain. In fact, their anger is a sure sign of a deep desire; betrayal can only happen when their should be trust, and it can only hurt when we care, or once cared. So maybe they will need space from you because you wounded them; give them permission to find that space. Maybe it will take a long time, and even the humility and patience to release them and wait until they are ready; be willing to wait. But never stop believing that they long to know you.

To all you sons and daughters who couldn’t find a card that fit, because not one touched on that deep pain… or who didn’t even bother to look for one this year, because he wouldn’t even care if you did try…. Today, I remind you that you are worth more than he did to you. You are worth being acknowledged… loved… embraced… held. You are worth being celebrated. Your Heavenly Father–your ‘Papa’–celebrates you. That’s true whether you believe in him or not. You are created in His image, to reflect His heart. He delights in you! And the joy you bring Him, causes Him to sing over you with deep affection. (Zephaniah 3:17)

To all you ‘daddies at heart’ who were never able to have children, or maybe even marry, I pray blessing over you, as you mentor and ‘father’ the orphan children in your life who need someone to listen and care.

canstockphoto27624517

And to all you daddies whose children have passed away, and the sons and daughters whose daddies have passed away, may God comfort you today. Alone or surrounded, and possibly celebrating the relationships you have, today is a reminder of a lonely ache in a place in your heart that could only ever belong to that one person. I pray that God will fill your day with kind words, hope,  and understanding friends, and much love from those around you.

To my husband, thank you for showing me what the word ‘Papa’ means, in the way you love and care for your family. Each year I am more thankful for you and the love you live in our lives. I would choose you all over again, and walk this way again, with you.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger