It Could Have Been Worse

birds on the roof

Last Thursday morning, Terry and I had some errands to run. We set out early, and it was a bit of a stressful morning, for one reason or another, so by the time we got back into the car and headed for home, I was just looking forward to putting the kettle on, pouring myself a giant mug of coffee, and relaxing a bit.

Terry was driving, and I’d picked up a leaflet in one of the places we’d visited, so I started flipping through it to pass the time.  I was so engrossed in this, that I didn’t even see the other car. In fact, I didn’t see anything at all. One minute I was sitting there, reading my leaflet and half-listening to the music on the car stereo, the next I was being flung forward in my seat, and then snapped back by the safety belt. There was no time to think, and yet somehow there was all the time in the world to register the look of shock on Terry’s face, hear him shout out something – I don’t remember what – and feel the sickening moment of impact as the bonnet crumpled in front of us and the thought this is it, this is how we’ll die flashed through my head.

The car came to a halt. The music played on, inappropriately loud.

Then I started screaming.

“Oh my God!” I shouted. “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” And I think I would probably have kept on shouting it – in fact, I think there’s a small part of my head which has been just repeating that phrase, over and over ever since it happened – if Terry, having established that there was nothing physically wrong with me, hadn’t interrupted my hysteria by getting out of the car.

By the time I’d calmed down enough to take a look around, the two people from the other car had, thankfully, also gotten out to inspect the damage, so I could see right away that no one was hurt. Even without looking, though, I could tell that our poor car wasn’t going to be so lucky, and as I sat there and looked at the buckled bonnet, I was all of a sudden completely blindsided by the horror of it all.

First came the ‘what ifs’. What if we’d been going faster? What if the seatbelts had failed? What if Rubin had been in the car, and had been thrown forward with the impact? And, of course, the biggie: what if we’d been hurt, or worse? What if someone else had?

The ‘what ifs’ were quickly followed by the ‘if onlies’. If only we hadn’t gone out that morning, or at that time. If only I hadn’t decided that THAT day was the only possible day to run those errands. If only I’d actually stopped and bought those flowers I’d seen in the supermarket, rather than just stopping to admire them: then we’d have been a few minutes later than we were, and we’d have driven home, drank our coffee and got on with our day, just as we always do.

But I didn’t. And so instead of that blissfully normal day, I found myself sitting by the side of the road, in our once-beautiful car, which was now completely destroyed. And as I sat there,  I discovered that my mind could just not compute this. I couldn’t fathom how something could be so perfect one second, and so utterly ruined the next. And I thought that this could have been me, or Terry, or one of the two people in the other vehicle, and I started to sob. It was a long time before I stopped.

*   *   *

The other car had just one small scratch on the bumper.

Ours is a write off.

*  *   *

Because of the holiday weekend, we had to spend the next four days waiting to find out whether it was repairable or not. In fact, we still don’t have the official verdict from the insurance company, but the garage have told us the cost of the repairs, and it’s more than the car’s worth, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out what will happen there.

Of course, it’s just a car. The main thing is that no one was hurt: I’ve been being told this all weekend, and it’s one of those things that really goes without saying (Although, seriously, if one more person tells me that “worrying won’t help!” I will scream. I don’t think anyone worries or feels bad about things because they think it will help: you just can’t help but feel bad sometimes, when something bad has happened.) It could have been worse. Cars can be replaced. No one was hurt. But honestly? I still feel absolutely wretched about it. I loved that car. I wrote before, back when we bought it, about how I tend to get emotionally attached to inanimate objects, especially cars, and although I told myself I wouldn’t do it this time, I seem to have failed in that endeavour, because I can’t even think about it without wanting to cry.

One second, everything was normal, and fine. The next second, everything was ruined.

And as bad as it was, it could have been so much worse.

bird on roof

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40 Comments

  • Claire says:

    Oh I’m so sorry to hear that. It will take a few days to get over it, but you can focus on the ‘thank goodnesses’ as well as the ‘if onlys’.

    Hope you and Terry both recover quickly.

    • Amber says:

      Thanks, Claire – I hope you’re right: at the moment I just keep going over it in my head – aargh!

      • Claire says:

        I know what you mean, I’m the queen of the over-thinkers. The world is a scary place and I’m very pleased I work from home and don’t have to go out among the Others very often!

  • Caroline says:

    First up, may I just say how terrifying that sounds, and how very relieved I am to hear that you are both ok.

    Secondly, don’t be too hard on yourself for feeling attached to your car. I think most people underestimate attachment to inanimate objects until they lose something themselves. Yes, things can be replaced and yes, it could have been a whole lot worse, but its still pretty horrible. And made more so, no doubt, by the shock of the situation. I hope you’re feeling better very soon! Cx

    • Amber says:

      Thank you so much for saying that… people keep telling me that it “doesn’t matter” and it’s not important, etc, and I know that they’re right, but I just get so attached to things, and if I lose something, or break it or whatever, I feel absolutely awful about it. I mean, I still think about the lost green dress and the jacket I left at the airport two years ago (and feel horrible when I see them in photos), and losing our beautiful car is just so much worse. Thanks for commenting, it’s much appreciated x

  • Moni says:

    Oh, Amber, please feel hugged tightly!!!
    That’s a situation I don’t want anybody to be in! Even if nobody is hurt, and you’re not attached to the things that are destroyed, it’s something one can absolutely do without.
    I hope for your sake that this will go with the least possible amount of paperwork and stress, and that you and Terry will recover soon.

    • Amber says:

      Thanks, Moni, those hugs are really needed today! I think the waiting is making it a whole lot worse – it happened on Thursday morning, but because of the bank holiday we still haven’t heard anything from the insurance company, and I always think waiting is the worse thing. Here’s hoping we hear from them tomorrow and it all goes smoothly after that.

  • Panthera says:

    God, that sounds so scary! I’m so glad you’re okay! :(

    I get emotionally attached to objects too, especially things I have around me and use often, like my pc or ipad. It’s not comparable at all to a car crash of course, but I get that wretched, sad, almost panicked response when my pc breaks down, so I totally feel where you’re coming from.

    I really hope everything works out, and that the new car will help somewhat with the loss.

  • Glad everyone is ok Amber x

  • Brian via Facebook says:

    Yeah, me too, glad all are ok. It will take time to feel comfortable on the roads again, but it will happen. And use this as a lesson in life’s fragility and love people and things even more.

  • Roisin says:

    Oh Amber, that sounds so horrible and frightening. I can’t drive, and part of the reason is that I crashed my dad’s car when I was 19 and learning – I drove it into a hedge. The car was fine and so were we, but I crossed the road in the process and if anything had been coming it could have been a lot worse. My daddy always says that if I had got straight back into the driver’s seat I would have forgotten all about it, but I’m not so sure. I’m sure I will learn to drive one day, but that was a horrible experience I’m in no rush to repeat.

    I also empathise on becoming attached to inanimate objects. I have as many pictures on my phone of my Bagpuss hot water bottle cover as most people have of their pets or children! Isn’t that silly, but he has a face so really seems like a person. I’m the same with kitchenware and my clothes. So, you’re not over-reacting at all, you’re in shock and you’re grieving a little for your car. I think that’s pretty normal. I hope you’re both okay and am sending lots and lots of hugs your way xxx

    • Amber says:

      I’m sometimes amazed that people drive at all – I had a very minor bump back in December (these past few months haven’t been good for us and cars) and even that really shook my confidence: and I was a nervous driver anyway! Things like this are completely terrifying, though, when you start to think about what could have happened: I mean, we were going slow at the time, so it wasn’t a huge crash or anything, and it was still enough to wreck our car – really made me paranoid about all of the other things that could happen.

      I’m really glad it’s not just me that has the attachment to inanimate objects. I couldn’t even look at it afterwards, it just upset me so much :(

  • yikes!!! ur poor car. i’m glad everyone is ok and that rubin wasn’t in the car!!

  • Suya says:

    Oh, I am so sorry for you… Cars can really feel like best friends we rely on everyday, but sadly it takes losing them to actually realize how much they’ve grown on us, I think. But the good part is that they can be replaced eventually, unlike people… Maybe you deserve to buy some super cute shoes as an emotional consolation!

  • Stephanie says:

    Glad you are okay physically… No one can discount the emotional ramifications of a car accident or the feeling of lack of control. My friend’s daughter was in a car wreck last year, that she was mildly hurt in, but was definitely one of those “what ifs”, they could have been dramatically hurt. The car was totaled. I took them a while to feel “safe” again.

  • Hayley says:

    *So* glad to hear that you and Terry are safe (and that the Rubinman wasn’t in the car!).

  • Ewen via Facebook says:

    Sounds like you guys have had a fright. Thinking about you both – don’t be afraid to give us a shout if there’s anything we can do to help. E x

  • Nina says:

    Oh dear! That’s horrible! I’m very glad you two didn’t get hurt. Did you check with a doctor because of the whiplash? When I had my accident (almost four years ago), my neck and all the surrounding muscles were sore for days. On what kind of road did it happen? In the city? Mine was on a motorway and to the day, I am a very anxious passenger and driver, especially on said motorways (it doesn’t help that in Germany there are many sections without any speed limit at all). I hope your car was well-insured – mine only had third-party liability, so that accident did not only burn into my mind, but also burnt a big, big hole into my bank account. I don’t know if you’ve read my blog post from back then, but our dog was in the car when the accident happened, fortunately he was in the open trunk, but oh boy, he was a nervous wreck afterwards, just like me. Anyways, I really hope you’ll be doing better soon, you’ve got my heartfelt sympathy!

  • Alexandra via Facebook says:

    I’m so sorry to hear all this but very glad both of you are well. x

  • Fi says:

    So sorry to hear about your car. But I’m glad you and Terry are both OK. *HUGS*
    As you know from my blog a couple of months ago I had an accident too and it does shake you up. Once you get a new car sorted out you will be able to move forward (literally and figuratively!).
    xx

  • Wow. I’m glad you and Terry escaped (physically if not emotionally) unscathed. Scary stuff.

  • I’m sorry that this happened to you, but I do know how it feels to be even irrationally attached to inanimate objects. Even ones that are not as big as a car hold something for me, and I’m kindof glad other people feel that way too. Best wishes to all of you.

  • EagleVision1999 says:

    Hmm, how did it happen at all? Does it affect your insurance? I hope you’ll find a nice replacement car fast! Stuff like that is always shocking at first, but It’ll be allright eventually.

    I’m a relatively insecure Driver myself, but that’s because I haven’t had much experience driving yet. My driver licence is two years old but I don’t have a car so the only I drive a car is when I go somewhere with my parents. They always urge me to drive then.I’ve scratched the door of a gateway once and it was temporarely jammed but it didn’t turn out to be problematic on the long run. It was a shock though.

  • That sounds dreadful. Glad that you and Terry are ok, and that you can manage to see the bright side.

    Still pretty scary though.

  • Mel says:

    Amber and Terry,

    So glad you’re ok! Heart breaking and painful at the same time! Take it easy and rest for a while for your mind to recover.

  • Call me M says:

    This sounds really scary. I’m so sorry to hear about your accident. I can understand how you must be feeling. Thank God you’re all okay. That’s the most important thing.
    And I can relate to what you’re saying, because I always get emotionally attached with everything. And I know you would have been much better if your car hadn’t been wrecked in the accident, but it’s not as important as your lives. So I’m glad you’re ok.

  • Sandy says:

    Glad to hear you’re both ok. Doesn’t everyone get attached to “things”?? Perfectly normal in my book, probably why I have a house full to bursting with “stuff”.

    Hope you manage to get everything sorted as painlessly as possible.

  • Tracey says:

    If this was Terry’s car then I am very very sad on your behalf. I would be gutted about it too. But I am glad that neither of you were hurt.

  • Katie says:

    I’m glad you’re both OK. The attachments we form to cars is strange, isn’t it? I wasn’t all that fond of ours to start with, but now I love it and I am hoping that the alarming sounds it’s been making of late aren’t a sign of something bad. So I can definitely appreciate how bereft you’re feeling.

    Hopefully, your new car will be shiny and wonderful and will take you on many new adventures. :)

  • KON says:

    Your car is now on car-island and is happily bumping over fields of flowers with all his car friends….well, at least this is a comforting imagination…

    Glad your all well, I can imagine your shock – it’s so nasty being confronted with ones own vulnerability.

    PS: Get Rubin a dog-seatbelt, driving with him will be much safer.

  • Doretta via Facebook says:

    Glad you and Terry are OK. And I understand your feelings about the car. Perhaps, when you’re ready, a rememberance ceremony? It may sound silly to others, but for those of us who bond with objects it can help to grieve.

  • Nicki says:

    Bless you & Terry! I went through something similar in august last year where we lost our beloved Corsa in a car accident. I also felt bad for the car as it had only done 36k miles – such a short life – we should have taken it out more and given it more life experience! As you can see I definitely know where you’re coming from. Even days like now I’ll just remember “it’s gone!, it’s just gone!”.

    I dont know the details of your accident but what made ours worse was someone had just decided to drive across our lane while we were clearly in the way, there was nothing we could have done differently, we were just driving to work as we always did.

    Hope you & Terry take care, it will take a while to get over the car (think you go through the grieving process myself) and I you hope dont get any nasty flashblacks of the accident which my other half suffered quite badly with.

    Not sure if this would help and you may already know, but probably one of the reasons you all went unscathed is because your car took all the force and crumpled. Otherwise you all might have been a lot worse, so think of that when you remember your lovely car and how it sacrificed itself so you could all live on.

    xx

    p.s. Sorry if this is all too cheesy for you, just thought my experience may help you through yours :)

  • Amanda via Facebook says:

    Glad you and Terry are ok, sounds really scary. Sorry to hear about your car, I become attached to objects too, can’t help it either! x

  • Arlene says:

    I clearly missed all this. So soooooo sorry this happened to you guys. I really can sympathise with the loss of the car. However it is true, the car can be replaced, lives can’t. Feel actual bokey sick just thinking if Rubin had been in the car :( xxxx

  • Kym says:

    That’s awful, thank goodness you’re both okay!

  • Hazel says:

    That’s terrible so glad you’re both ok.
    It is terrifying and it will take a few days to get over, just try to stay positive (easier said than done)

  • Nina says:

    My friend was killed in a car accident recently. He was in his thirties and now he’s gone – so I genuinely think you should thank your lucky stars, rather than focusing on the negatives.
    I say this as a person who gets attached to inanimate objects too, so I can understand why you feel sad and that it’s a massive hassle etc. But you are alive, Terry is alive and in the grand scheme of things that really should be all that matters.
    I’m watching my friend’s girlfriend of 10 years try to piece her shattered life back together and she’s genuinely got something to feel sorry about.

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