A little over two months ago, our lives changed forever. Terror and fear like I’ve never known and no movie or show or story ever could have prepared me for it. When you see these things play out in films you think gosh that is just SO scary…but then you just move along. We’re all sitting on sidelines watching others go through things, occasionally we get bumped into the game and shaken up ourselves but on Monday, March 13… we were sent head on into the game with only one second to react and soak in what was about to happen.

What was about to happen…..that right there. That’s the hardest part for me because I saw it coming. I remember every single moment, smell, sound. The sounds are the worst. I remember the matte gray sky I truly loathe now because it reminds me of how it looked before the rain started and when I think of rain I think of missing one of my Vans and running through glass screaming for help down the road. REALLY screaming, too. Not “hey, can someone help us?” But like “SOMEONE HELP OUR FAMILY NOW!!! PLEASE! HELP!!!” as loud as my cheerleader voice could take it. Demanding someone be there for us and not asking at all. Yelling at that poor sweet lady who let us sit in her car while I was in and out of being awake holding Autumn praying I didn’t drop her while we waited to be put into the ambulance.

I just remember airbag powder and gray. SO much gray. Dark gray, light gray in the air through the busted windshield with the airbags filling up the window making everything so dark. The terror I felt seeing the red car rush so fast without stopping from the left side, and I knew what was about to happen. It was too late to slam, we were in the rain and almost in the intersection. I knew it. And a part of me for a split second said that I was going to lose my family and our lives would be done. This is it. Time to be with Jesus. No time to process anything at all.

Looking at Mike was something that I can’t get out of my head, still. I’ve never seen my husband in shock before and he was just staring at me screaming the worst noise. His head was hit so hard he had a concussion that took the memory of five minutes before the accident all the way to waking up in the hospital. I can’t imagine how he felt waking up in a hospital and wondering where his wife and children were and if they were even alive. Nightmares all around for all of us…but his face. That noise. I hate that I can’t let that slip from my head. In all honesty..and I know this is graphic, I thought because he was rotated and facing me that he had either been impaled or had broken his neck. I had to tell him over and over “BABY, THE GIRLS, WE HAVE GET THE GIRLS” and he finally snapped out of it and helped…but the thought crossed my mind that I was going to have to leave him. Making a decision like that no matter how necessary in the moment still carries guilt afterward. Does he remember any of it? No. Not at all. One thing he remembers out of nowhere that is truly haunting is another person in a car howling for help. I remember that too and remember we had to cover up that noise by talking to Cammy a little louder because it scared her.

Turning around after impact was the worst of all. When we were hit, my face bones were crushed (I will always know that noise) and I had to pull it painfully out of the airbag and I said Jesus Christ when I turn around tell me I won’t see something horrible and that those babies will be okay. Please God LET THEM BE SAFE. I can die tonight but don’t let them. Please, let me pull them out of this car in case it catches on fire and let my girls get through this. And then, I heard it. Crying. I’ve never been so happy to hear crying except the day they were born and how ironic is that? It felt like the moment they were born when you sigh a big breathe of relief because you know although they’re scared, or mad…they are okay. I loved hearing those cries that night, and my heart hurt later remembering how sad they were.

When I climbed to the back of our beloved Toyota Sienna I miss so dearly while we wait for our new one to be delivered, Cammy asked repeatedly…”Mommy were we in an accident? Are we okay? You’re bleeding are you okay?” I did the hardest thing in the moment. I smiled and said “baby girl we’re okay! Look! See? Let’s get out of here, let’s go get help! You’re so brave!” Inside I was a mess, I was terrified. But instincts took over in a way I have never known that night. I act instinctually often with the girls but damn, this was an ENTIRELY different world. A therapist I saw shortly after the accident said because of past trauma and growing up with the unpredictability and consistent stress of an alcoholic parent, my brain has learned to slow things down (like slowing down a camera shutter to let more light in) and pay EXTRA attention in chaotic situations for survival. This is why I remember so much and additionally was able to physically move in ways I shouldn’t have been able to in order to save my girls from the car.

When the adrenaline wore off in the hospital, I got REALLY sick. Like how I was pregnant with Autumn during our ER visits, so sick I couldn’t think or see straight. I still remember a lot but we’re STILL unsure of who reset my nose, LOL! My nose was VERY clearly deviated, I remember the EMS guy telling me “oh, they will be able to fix that don’t worry!” and all I’m thinking is that I better not be the one paying for my own nose job, lol!

Three days after the accident is when the pain was the absolute worst. The nurses told me… this is gonna be really rough in the next couple of days. They were right, I could hardly get out of bed. Mike had to help me shower (not in the fun way, lol) and poor Ellie taking baths with her burns…it was just so painful. I went through a little depressing state the week after where I wasn’t sure if we were really alive…I was suffering so deeply in my heart not understanding how we could have lived through that and not wanting to accept that I really was alive when other people don’t make it through more minor crashes, as weird as it sounds. I was so thankful, but I was at my darkest hour.

I didn’t show it because I didn’t want my girls to pick up on it, but eventually Cammy did start telling me it hurt her heart to keep seeing my super bruised face with every color from black to purple to a really yucky green…so painfully I applied foundation to my broken face and showed her “the real Mommy” again and she was happier. It was worth the pain of putting on makeup for that. We all needed a little extra joy in our lives… and we were so grateful to get visits from good hearted friends and have some pick-me-up surprises come in the mail, too! Every time a package came the girls jumped ALL over it and it was so cute… it was like a little highlight of the day every single time.

Driving is hard now, I can’t pretend I’m not absolutely terrified when the sun sets and we hit the road traveling. Even more so when it rains at night during trips, which ironically has happened over and over this season for us and it’s been SO emotionally draining. We’ve almost been hit a couple of times since and we are VERY cautious and stay back to ourselves but people just… don’t care. They don’t. They don’t pay attention. They weave in and out of lanes and they pull out in front of people and they slam on their brakes causing others to do the same and put everyone at risk.

If you’re proud to be a “crazy driver” — I recommend that you stop that nonsense right now. I will say I am definitely a more efficient driver and I will go at least 5 over the speed limit and I definitely don’t piddle around but I am also very safe. I’m aware of surroundings, I look AHEAD and I anticipate. I watch how people are braking ahead, who looks like they’re flying in and out of lanes and who we need to stay away from. But please — don’t fly up to stop signs. Don’t try to make the yellow light from really far away. WEAR YOUR SEATBELT! Get off your phones. Stop driving distracted. Here are some things we shared recently in hopes of helping others in a tough accident situation. Think about how you would feel if you got a call from someone you loved more than anything and found out someone was being reckless and hurt them when it could have all been avoided. Accidents happen, but most of them are preventable.

We are doing better now, we really are. Aside from some ongoing medical issues we’re trying to figure out – we will recover but our hearts carry this burden and pray you NEVER have to experience it. Thanks to every single person who has been there for us! It has been a key part of us getting through!! 🙂

Posted by:amandahedgepeth

<p>Hey there! We’re a husband and wife team who has the honor to document inspiring wedding days for the most cheerful couples around. We have three daughters lovingly referred to as the mermaid mafia and we love nothing more than salty beach days, laughing as much as possible and living the simple, good life.</p>

One thought on “Driving | Life By The Sea

  1. Amanda,
    I truly can’t put into words of how beautifully and eloquently written this post was despite the pain behind it all. It was inspiring to me to watch how you and your family overcame this struggle and how you all embrace one another with love. In all honestly it’s exactly what I hope and pray I have for my family of my own one day. Continue to be brave, to continue to see endless possibilities in seaglass, and continue being an amazing mermaid mama, they wouldn’t be able to swim through the toughest of tides without you.

Leave a Reply