I had an auto accident last evening.
My youngest son and I were on our way to babysit my grandchildren so their parents could spend a little time alone together.
I was just a few minutes from their home when a woman ran a red light. She was driving on the main thoroughfare and I was in the cross-street. She must have been doing the speed limit of that road (50+mph) and I don’t think she even saw her red light. I didn’t hear her try to brake.
Just as I entered the intersection, she was upon me. She hit my driver’s side rear and my car spun a few times, coming to stop across the highway, facing back the way I’d come. It was amazing luck (or an 8lb10ozbabyjesusmiracle) that no other cars were involved. The accident happened in super slo mo. I kept my hands on the wheel and tried to steer away from the other many cars which were stopped in the intersection.
My driver’s side air bag punched me in the head (wow). Our eyeglasses were knocked off our faces into the back of the car.
The whole thing was so oddly surreal: Inside the car, we were relatively still and through the windshield and my son’s side window, I could see the world spin by in a blur, too fast to discern images.
There was the complicated metal and glass sound of the external collision, and the explosive sound of my airbag deploying with a BANG. Inside the car, we were rag dolls with expressions of surprise and confusion.
The world became suddenly completely silent. No sound at all. Nothing.
And then there was just one sound: a far-away, high pitched tone which seemed to slowly increase in volume.
Behind and under that escalating tone, the sounds of the rest of the world emerged in bits, as if hearing it all from underwater. As that tone increased, each world-sound began to independently individuate, the way each instrument in an orchestra might join others, one by one, until there is a cacophony of sound.
Horns, voices, yelling, traffic — my child and I came back into hearing, returned to these bodies, inhabiting that moment, where damn, our heads hurt.
photo credit: LUCAS ZIMMERMAN/LUMA Visual Creations