Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Me, Mama, Car, Down" (Hudson's 4 word version of our accident)

So the scariest thing that I have experienced so far in my life? Realizing that the car has stopped flipping, that we've landed upside down on the roof of the car, and wondering what I'll see when I turn around to face my son, who is hanging upside down in his carseat.

Where do I start with this post?

I decided to come to Montreal for the weekend, to attend a Sunday Holiday Brunch with some of my oldest friends. I drove down on Saturday (just me and Hudson) and spent the night with my parents (who wanted to see Hudson). On Sunday morning, I realized that the roads were too snowy to drive safely, so I reluctantly cancelled my plans of going to the brunch which was in another area of the city. Instead we hung out with my family at my parent's place. It was peaceful and nice.

By Monday after lunch, the roads had been cleared, it had stopped snowing, and we were ready to drive back to Ottawa. Hudson repeatedly told me he did not want to go home. 50 times, saying that he wanted to stay at Ham and Haj's house, and for Dad and Oof (Bosco) to come here and join us. Despite his protests, I got him dressed, packed up the car, and took off.

I never once felt intimidated by the conditions of the roads. The highway looked perfectly safe. I never once thought that I was in any danger. I kept driving, while Hudson slept soundly in the back. As we got further from the city of Montreal, the roads got a little more snowy in spots, but still looked mostly clear. I had my Starbucks Gingerbread latte, the radio was playing Christmas carols, I thought of some last minute gifts to buy, and was basically looking forward to getting home to see Rob and Bosco.

The highway had a natural curve, a bend in the road, and so I steered to the right to follow it. Only the car didn't turn kept going straight. I was on ice going 100 km's an hour. I realized what was happening, and tried to correct the car with the steering wheel. I was sliding, out of control, and in a matter of seconds realized that we were spinning into a ditch. I saw, heard, and felt the car roll over. And over. And over. Until we stopped flipping. And it was still. And we were upside down. I didn't see my life flashing before my eyes. All I could think of was "Oh my God, what's happened to my son".

I turned to face him. And saw his eyes, big big big and scared scared scared. I asked him if he had any ouches, any boo-boos. And he told me no, but kept calling my name to come get him. I turned off the car, unclipped my seatbelt, and went to get him out of his carseat. The windows were ALL covered in snow, so I couldn't get my bearings of what position we were in. I held Hudson in my arms, trying to get the doors open and they wouldn't budge. That is the only few seconds where I felt like I might start to panic. I tried the other doors and couldn't get them open either. It was then, that I saw some people clearing the snow from the windows and calling to us, asking if we were okay. I called back that we were. They kept telling me to unlock the doors, and I kept calling back that they were unlocked (a little more panic set in). Finally they managed to open a door, and I told them to take Hudson. As I was passing the strangers my son, I heard a woman say that another car had just slid off the highway at the same corner as I did, and was also in the ditch a few feet away from us. We had to hurry and get out of the car. I climbed out, to have the stranger woman hug me tight, saying she couldn't believe I wasn't hurt. I was so grateful for her hug. And it's weird because I usually don't forget a face, but I can't for the life of me remember what any of those 3 strangers who rescued us out of our car look like. I must have been in shock.

A big 18 wheeler had witnessed the accident, and had pulled over, offering us to wait for the police in the warmth of his truck instead of outside in the minus 25 degree cold. I took him up on his offer, and cuddled Hudson in the warm truck, while singing Pink Floyd and Guns N Roses in his ear (the bands that were on the radio station...97.7 CHOM, so stereotypical of what I would peg a truck driver to listen to!). I was nauseous, petrified, confused, and overwhelmed with what had just happened, but the last thing I wanted to do was scare Hudson more than he already was. So I lightheartedly kept saying things like "Hudson, Mama's car is upside down!" and "Hudson look at the ambulance and firetrucks lights". He is an amazing kid. He was so patient while we waited close to 40 minutes in the truck for the police to arrive. He was so patient as he was poked and prodded by the paramedics (who said that they know that particular bend in the highway as it is always a spot for accidents). He was so patient as we left the truck and got into the back of the police car. And then when we got into the tow-truck. And again when we got dropped off at the garage where our car got towed to. And again when we took a cab to the closest Tim Horton's to wait almost 2 hours for my mother to come pick us up. I swore that day that I would never call him "difficult" again.

I felt every single emotion a person could possibly feel that day, and the days that followed. Thankful, scared, angry, sad. I finally let myself cry when I saw my mom walk into the coffee shop. Then again when I first talked to Rob and recounted the story. I cried when I found out how much the towing of the car cost ($375 plus $30 for every day our car was on their lot). But now, I'm done crying. I'm trying to just be grateful that Hudson and I are okay. We have Not. One. Scratch.

Hudson makes a sad face when he says the words "Me, Mama, Car, Down". And says that he was "Bravff" (Brave). He really was. I was too. My point of this whole post??? Hug the people you love at every chance you get.


Chantal said...

Hey Joyce! I am in tears here cuz that is the most frightening story I've ever read from a friend. And I'm really thankful you're both alive! Someone up there was looking out for you, wow.

It's nice to know there are wonderful people out there who stopped to see if you were ok.

Hugs to you and Hudson! And yes, I'm going to hold on tight to my own...

Sonia said...

James told me about the accident and I am so glad to hear both of you are alright.

Your story also brought tears to my eyes. I can't believe how many times you rolled over and that both of you are unharmed. That truly is a miracle. Also, the kindness of's so nice to hear there are still lots of good people out there that will stop to help someone in need.

Thank you for putting what is important into perspective. I will definitely be hugging and saying, "I love you" more often to my kids and family.


Audrey said...

I am so thankful that you and Hudson are safe. I can't even imagine how scary the whole accident must have been. Lots of Love, Audrey

Angella said...

Oh, Joyce. I am bawling.

I am so glad that the two of you are unharmed.


Shannon said...

Reading this brought tears to my eyes as well. I cannot even imagine how you felt when you stopped flipping and wondered how Hudson was doing! What a strong Mama you are! And Hudson is definitely a courageous boy, keeping Mama company until Halmonie came.

I am so glad that you guys are ok. That is such an incredible miracle that you guys came away without a scratch. You have an amazing guardian angel!!!

Kaili said...

Tears are streaming down my face. how scary! Holy!
Kids are amazing! Isn't it amazing how you switch into protective Mama mode when something crazy happens that involves your child!
You ARE brave! And a GREAT Mama! I would have balled when I saw my Mom too!

I am SO glad you are okay!

joyce said...

Hey I forgot to mention that I was actually contemplating taking a picture of the car upside down (while we were waiting inside the truck) to post on my blog! I decided against it because I thought the "visual" would scar my weak-stomached sister (Audrey) and mother!

Anonymous said...

Happy new year !!!
Hudson, Rob and Joyce

All the best


Anonymous said...

I'm sooo glad you had the the strength and love of both family AND strangers to hold you through this. I'm so thank-full you're both OK.

I'm sending you a virtual "wrap my arms around both of you" hug! (and Rob as well)!, I know how traumatizing it was for him too.