I made it to Seattle. It was a long, amazing, scary, fantastic, exhausting day. I’m almost too tired to write and in fact I can’t keep my eyes open.
First, the good. I got to see dear friends last night. The kind of people who are like family. It hit me with happiness and love. I am so grateful for people like this in my life. It was the boost I needed as I started on my way away from Tom and the girls. As a bonus, when I woke up this morning, I discovered that my blog had been named one of the Top 10 Cancer Blogs of 2016 by I Had Cancer. I missed the memo while frantically packing for Seattle yesterday and it was exciting and totally humbling to be named in that category. I love writing and the idea that other people love my writing is just about everything I could dream of. The idea that my writing took another giant upswing after that completely boggles my mind. Scary Mommy, a Facebook group with over 2,600,000 followers and a site I have followed for years, published a piece I wrote. You can find the essay here. The comments below the link blew me away.
I connected with people. They felt heard, maybe even validated.
If nothing else, some people whom I’ve never met felt less alone because of what I wrote. For me, that is everything. I feel so so fortunate to have a talent that allows me to hold a space for people to be themselves-to feel acceptance, love, and support. It is an absolutely incredible honor to be able to do that. I tear up thinking about it and again, my heart is full.
Sometimes, connecting with people, meeting them where they are and just making your presence and support known, is all we can do. I was reminded of that today when a serious accident occurred on the highway just ahead of me. A young male driver fell asleep at the wheel (presumably) with cruise control on. He was speeding and hit a vehicle in front of him sending that car into the snow covered median and causing his vehicle to veer off the road where it hit a mound of dirt and rocks and then rolled three times.
I immediately pulled over, parked my car, put on my flashers, and sprinted to his car through the snow. It was on its side with the roof facing the road. There were no sounds coming from the vehicle.
I knew this could be bad. Possibly very very bad.
Something inside me though, something that I lacked before, was completely prepared. Cancer. It is the months and months of having the wind knocked out of me, and the consistent will to get back up and take another hit that made me ready to help pry the door open on the car and start helping the driver and his passenger. I didn’t care what I was going to see, I didn’t care that it could be scary or terrible. I’ve been down that road a thousand times by now. I only knew that I needed to help. Right. Now.
Inside, we found the driver and his female passenger. She was only 19 and had been asleep when the vehicle went off the road. She was young, terrified, and in pain. She was able to climb out of the vehicle and I helped her to my car where we sat together and warmed up. In the distance, I saw another woman run across the highway. She was coming from the vehicle that had been rear-ended. I didn’t want anyone to get injured, or to further injur themselves not realizing they were pumped up on adrenaline. So I gathered her up to have her sit in my car, too.
They had both been through a terrifying experience. I do not have medical training so besides asking the reasonable assessment questions all I could do was be present with them. I held the girl’s hand and repeated to her that I was here and that I wouldn’t leave her. I reached behind me and touched the woman’s knee in the backseat- eventually holding her shaking hands in mine. We sat together for a long time. When the paramedics finally arrived, I walked with the girl to the ambulance, making sure she was heading to the same hospital her boyfriend was heading to so she would be met there by family and she wouldn’t be alone.
I then stayed with the couple from the other vehicle until their car was also declared totaled. They were on their way to Seattle, too, and wouldn’t you know I had two empty seats? We drove together the rest of the way, getting to know each other and sharing driving duties. The husband most likely saved their lives through his quick thinking and expert driving. And as I sit here and write this I am still so very grateful for their safety and for the opportunity to be with them in their time of need.
Life doesn’t give us everything we ask for. It does, however, give us incredible opportunities. The opportunity to pay forward a fraction of the love and support I have received from you all over the past year means a lot to me. I have a deep sense of service to others in light of what has been given to me. And I know I will feel that way, and seek out ways to pay it forward, for the rest of my life.
Thank you for making me a better person. And please, wear your seat belts.
Give ‘Em Hell