What The Victim Didn’t Know

Seconds after I turned left onto M-63 I heard a loud thud and caught, out of the corner of my eye, what appeared to be a flailing arm.  I stopped dead and jumped out of the Jeep to find a young woman and her bicycle down in front of me.  There was no blood…no visible damage to my vehicle.  What on earth?  I thought.

“My knee!  My knee!” she screamed.

I sat on the asphalt, legs bent under body naturally, apologizing profusely.

In between wailing the woman starred at me with contempt.  “Call 911! God what’s wrong with you?”

I pulled out my phone and attempted to dial.  But I was shaking and kept hitting the wrong keys.bike-accident

The woman whom I estimated to be around the age of my oldest child became furious with my ineptitude. “Hurry up!  Oh and lady…you are buying me a new bike!”

“Yes of course, of course. Whatever you want!”  I responded continuing to press buttons with my seeminly bloated thumbs.

Bystanders, other drivers and people from neighboring homes had begun to gather.  One yelled over that they had called for an ambulance.  While a couple were attending to the cyclist, a middle-aged man crouched down next to me.

“Are you ok?”

I shook my head from side to side.  I couldn’t speak.  In that moment I froze and I felt all of my bodily functions release.

That night I drove home alone to an empty house and holed up in our widow’s watch overlooking the big lake.  Over and over the scene played out.  I had looked both ways multiple times, but somehow the bike was right in front of me as I was pulling out.  My guess was that the woman was bearing down to climb the long hill and was not looking as she passed the side street.  I recalled how angry she seemed, furious that a motorist had been so oblivious, so blind.

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It has been more than five years since that August day I was leaving work late and hit the cyclist. While I would have like to have checked on her condition in the weeks that followed, because of her anger, all I could do was “creep” online and pray; pention for her quick recovery and hope that in the end we would not lose everything in a law suit.

And while I know a bit about her in the aftermath– that she missed work for two months but returned to competitive cycling and achieved her personal best in several local races, I have often wondered what she discovered about me beyond where I live and work. Certainly she doesn’t know that I all but stopped driving that day…hearing crashes in my head I suffered with some sort of PDSD couldn’t do it.  The mangled metal of my own childhood accident when an old man veered off and hit me as I stood straddling my bike waiting for him to pass; and the distinct thud of my victim were audible sounds that played in my head.  She didn’t know that I was clinically in shock and could not dial as she directed…completely incompacitated for a time there was nothing I could do.

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Back when I was a child facing multiple surgeries in my recovery, I felt very sorry for the man who left me with so many scars and my dead eye. And although the effects linger to this day; exasserabated by age, never once did I want him to feel shame as I knew he carried the guilt.  As long as there is hope, the potential for the offender to understand and regret the pain they have caused, we are pressed to forgive– for until we do the burden is shared.  Letting go is, in truth, the way the world works well.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “What The Victim Didn’t Know

  1. When I pulled out of a parking lot, a young man on a bike was racing down the hill and slammed into me. The police said it was his fault. His shoulder was dislocated. He was very angry at me. But he was on the sidewalk, travelling on the wrong side of the road. I’ve noticed people on bicycles are not usually careful. A lot of them don’t obey the rules of the road, which are the same for them as for a car driver. Sorry this happened to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cyclists are so very hard to see and it is hard when there is no shoulder on a two-lane highway. I respect them of course, but they can’t deny they are sometimes practically invisible. I wish certain colors, flags etc. we’re required. When our state started allowing motorcyclists to go helmet-less it freaked me out, because even if an accident is 100% their fault, I would feel horrible and suffer the trauma of their injury if I were involved. Accidents, even when is not technically injured or responsible are just traumatic by nature.

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  2. I hadn’t even had a car accident but the fear of the possibility of one kept me from getting a driver’s license until I was 32. Congrats on being able to get behind the wheel again!

    As BelleUnruh pointed out, it’s so important for cyclists to follow the rules of the road, though I’d add it’s also necessary for motorists to learn that yes, the rules for bikes are the same as for cars! I’ve had motorists yell at me for being “in the middle of the street” when I was in the bike lane, and another one yelled “Go b*tch you’re not a car!” when I stopped for a red light. Depending on who’s around, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. C’est la vie.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I actually went an entire year without driving once and I still don’t really drive very much…on average once a month when I can’t really avoid it. After the accident we went down to one car and I caught a ride with my husband at 6am to get to the office which was a little farther then. My work started at 8 so this was a big adjustment as I stayed until 5pm everyday. Luckily now I live two miles from work and a mile from a convenience store. When my husband is out of town I hoof it– even to church which is a good 4 miles. Because I only had one eye in the first place, I was always flipping my head back and forth multiple times to check for traffic and she just entered my blind spot rather suddenly. The victim never knew just how much my life changed over what happened that day. We have to share the road, but quite honestly it can be really hard to see the cyclists. I get very nervous when I see them. Please be safe 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Unfortunately if you don’t look for cyclists, then you don’t see them. I know this, because I was hit when a car pulled out in front of my bike. There was no blind spot, I wasn’t riding particularly fast, it was mid-morning, but not glaring. I saw the driver look at me, but later realized he had looked straight through me. I was lucky to get away with just grazes. Of course I was angry, but forgave the driver. When you don’t look for cyclists, you don’t see them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is true. In my case with one eye it is super hard to be constantly flipping ones head and keep track the action. This is why I rarely drive today and limit where exactly I drive. I hate to think that cyclists feel the drivers are lackadaisical or just plain negligent. I think maybe cyclists should accept the defensive riding piece and really understand the drivers out there…inexperienced, elderly, slightly impaired visually.. If all of these folks could not drive it would be quite difficult where public transit is null. I do everything I can to avoid driving (and I really do believe I am not as bad as many…) but sometimes I need to get across town to a doctor or help one of children. Please stay safe!

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  4. *HUGS*

    I was hit once, by a car, when I was riding my bicycle – I was nine, and foolishly crossed in front of him because his turn signal was on. Only the back wheel of my bike was struck, and I was near a hidden path that I used regularly, so I was able to recover and ride away without injury or damage to my bike.

    He actually came driving down the street a few minutes later, looking for me to see if I was alright – so I knew that he felt horrible about it. I never crossed in front of a car again.

    Those of us on bicycles and motorcycles always have to be a bit more aware of our surroundings, for sure….even under the best conditions. I’ve seen people on both sides be completely reckless, and I just shake my head in disbelief.

    Hitting someone can be just as traumatic as being hit…especially when you’ve been injured by being hit. I understand fully.

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  5. Thank you so much for the hugs (I need them) and the thoughtful comment! I always said if I hurt someone driving that I would quite and essentially I did. My plan for old age includes living in a small but gorgeous town with the basic amenities within walking distance. For now my kind husband is my driver (ala “Driving Ms. Stacy”). Thankfully I don’t like shopping and traveling about anyway and I’m willing to walk quite a ways!

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