By Nancy Black
My oldest brother died Sunday night, but not before my youngest child and I were in a horrific automobile accident earlier that afternoon.
I had just left my brother’s hospice in Allen and picked my teenager up from a worship service in Plano. We headed south down 75, to 635 east. It was a gorgeous day and the roads were busy. Our two huge dogs were in the car, too.
Right about the time we passed the Greenville Ave. exit, I reached down and took the last swig from my empty soda can. The drop of liquid hit the very back of my throat, which I quickly grabbed, and, well, that’s all I remember.
Here is what my child remembers: You grabbed your throat and turned red — “like you know that girl from ‘Willie Wonka’ who turns into a blueberry? You were a strawberry.” — your tongue hung out and you hit your head on the driver’s window.
But it’s not what I did, or in this case didn’t do, when all this happened. I was completely passed out from what I now know was a vasovagal syncope.* It’s what my 15-year-old, who hasn’t even finished the written part of their driver’s education course, did.
My child grabbed the steering wheel — while still buckled into the passenger seat — pulled the wheel back to the right (because the car was heading into the median), steered us across four lanes of busy LBJ traffic — through an exit sign — and down more than 100 yards of grassy embankment before we came to an abrupt stop.
This kid managed, by the grace of God and all the Spirits of the Universe, to not hit any other cars, objects or people. We did take out that huge exit sign in the process (Exit 16), but other than that, there were no other injuries. To anyone, or anything. It can only be described as a true miracle.
I regained consciousness when the car finally stopped abruptly. Numerous other cars who had witnessed the accident stopped to help. Police, fire and AAA were called. My child and I held each other tight and cried. All I could keep saying was that I was sorry.
“Why?” they said, trying to calm me. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
Oh, but I feel like I did. I passed out going 70 miles an hour on LBJ and left my child alone to deal with the consequences. I know I didn’t mean to faint, but it still makes me feel horrible. To imagine what must have been flashing through my teenager’s mind while trying to navigate us to safety off that road gives me the shivers. What a brave, brave soul my child has!
I hereby nominate my child for any and all hero awards out there. Because if there were ever a hero in my book, it’s my amazing child. Who, obviously, is not a child anymore!
* Vasovagal syncope (vay-zoh-VAY-gul SING-kuh-pee) causes your heart rate and blood pressure to drop suddenly. That leads to reduced blood flow to your brain, causing you to briefly lose consciousness. — Mayo Clinic