Every time I start writing about the accident I begin to cry. I haven’t found a way yet to capture these moments without sounding horrendously cheesy. I keep going back to the image of when I was crouched in the bathtub as he washed my hair. I fell into a fit of sobs because a shampoo bottle dropped from the shelf into the tub. He soaked his clothing to hold me.
I keep trying to tell myself to get over it but every time I get into a car I start to panic. Most people I know have been in accidents, but none of the young ones have watched a car come at them head on. Watched and panicked and known what was going to happen. The sight alone filled my entire body with adrenaline, caused every muscle to clench and the release. The after-effects of fight-or-flight syndrome left me unable to move for days.
I was driving him home the other night and feeling comfortable for the first time. Then someone in the oncoming lane took a left-hand turn, and I panicked. When other people are driving I find myself bracing my hands again the door handle, wanting to yell every time they swerve. My friends drive like madmen and I’ve lost the naive sense of humor to tolerate it. Even when they don’t, I panic. So when my hands jut out in front of me to stop some imagined impact, I rely on my habit of talking with my hands and pretend the motion was intentional. I smile, and I laugh, and I try to calm my breathing.
The car accident changed a lot of my view of life, and I wouldn’t say for the better. I keep telling myself to let it go. But I’ve learned that nothing is ever so simple.