As we’d flown through the air, they both yelled, “Mama! Mama!” But he’d fallen silent but she was coming completely undone. You would have thought that some part of her was continuing to fall into the massive darkness that remained below. As if the worst was still coming.
I used my strongest, most loving mama voice to say her name. I laid my hands on her legs and shoulder and face, “Look, I have you. Look, you’re okay,” and then on her brother, “Look, I have him… he’s okay,” and then on me, “See? Look at me. I’m okay. The car is trashed but we are safe in here. We are okay. Someone is going to come and help us get out. We are okay. Do you see? I’ve got you… it’s okay now.”
There was a man yelling down to us about help coming. I opened the door to talk to him, at least in part because I couldn’t figure out how to roll down my window. It opened up the hill and was almost too heavy for my body which I seemed to have almost no control over. Somehow, I propped it open with my left leg, which I then left there because I was too weak to do anything else. The earth poured in around us–the smells and sounds and cool, damp air of the forest we’d fallen into.
Breathe and laugh. “Man, this is sort of sketchy, sitting in the dark like this,” my son joked and I added, “Yeah, and we know there’s at least one little red fox running around.” Our laughter echoed in the darkness and then my daughter added. “I think that if I hadn’t been wearing my seatbelt, I would be dead right now… way down there.” The humbling silence fell over us and we listened to the sirens in the distance. Here they come…
Climbing out of the darkness was hard, even with help. My body was still trembling and weak, or vibrating and strong. Or maybe it was both. I went first. The man with the eyes said so. He looked like he was ready for a fight but I thought that if he could get me up that hill, I’d be glad to be there. He told me to let him hold the door so I could put both feet on the ground. I had to concentrate to find my right leg. My knee was pounding, thickening with each passing moment, but the rest of my leg was busy. My eyes followed it to the brake pedal. So much time had past, maybe seven or eight minutes since the car landed, and I was still holding the brake to the floor with every ounce of my being.
The man with the eyes saw it too. He told me it was okay… he helped me get out and pushed me up the hill. Another man explained he was taking me to an ambulance. Yes, he assured me, it was the same ambulance my children would be coming to. She came first, then him–walking and talking and perfectly sound. When my mother arrived, they brought her into the ambulance too and she looked as though we were ghosts. That made sense because I sort of felt like a ghost.
This accident happened two weeks ago. The car is destroyed but the children and I walked away. While I am profoundly grateful that we are alive, the trauma of the experience continues to make its way out of our bodies. There are so many sides to this story–beauty, terror, synchronicity, transformation, bonding, surrender–and as it unfolds within me, I will continue to share it with the knowledge that storytelling, even the really hard ones, cultivate love and healing. This is the true climbing out of the darkness.