One big crashing sound, the front of a truck beside me, broken glass in my lap, a big metal vee coming in over my lap, I remember thinking I am glad I am not fat or I would be cut in half. I knew what this was all about. There was never a moment that I didn’t know. I got hit by a truck. Seriously. I got hit by a truck. And, I survived to talk about it. Those few moments changed my life forever. It taught me the power of love.
You may think that I am going to tell you there was a lot of pain. There was. You may think that I am going to rail against the unfairness of it. I will not. You may wait for a wave of angry words. There won’t be any.
The power of love
What I am going to tell you is that the power of love and goodness from strangers changed my life that day. It’s not that I meant to focus on it. It is something that happened automatically. I don’t know why. Here is what I do know. I saw a young man sobbing and crying out,
“I am so sorry I did this to you.”
A big burly EMT came into my front seat with me and held me in a loving embrace. He stroked my arm and said,
“You’ll be ok, baby girl. You’ll be ok.”
He held me as they put a big plastic sheet over us so that the Jaws of Life could give me a chance to live by pulling me out of the crushed metal.
I remember a policeman asking me who he could go and get for me. He took my purse, got in his car, and brought my neighbor.
My neighbor crawled into the car with me, kissed my cheek, and told me that she would take care of things. She said she would take care of my little dog, Jackpot. She said not to worry and I didn’t.
Just like that, these things happened. Just like that. I felt the goodness and love of other human beings over and over in those few minutes. I focused on it and I kept thinking about how lucky I was.
Today, I am lucky and I am loved.
I am lucky that I can feel that love and accept it. And, lucky that I know what it means. It helped keep me alive during those moments. And still to this day, it keeps me going.
I was able to feel the power of the human spirit when I was weak and could no longer feel the strength of my own spirit.
Modern medicine is a powerful thing in our world. We are living longer than ever before. And if we pay attention and take care of our bodies, we have a chance to combine it with a healthy lifestyle.
We have more advantages than our ancestors. We are a rushed and busy society and sometimes forget that there are other things that make us unique. It is the power of others and how they affect us and strengthen us if we understand and embrace them.
People will come forward during tragedy or sorrow and offer themselves. They love and they give. They remember that they are human. And, they want to tell you that they know that you are human, too. They also want to let you know that they love you.
Friends are wonderful at giving, but a great many strangers will step forward seeking no reward or remembrance. They do it just to give something of themselves to strengthen you in your weakness. It happened to me.
Before the accident I was different
Before this accident, I would have told you that I would have refused help. I would have said I was ok. But, this was serious and I was too weak to refuse help.
Instead, I opened my heart and my mind and accepted every single ray of light that shined on me that day. I believe that it helped to save my life.
After I got to the trauma center, they worked on me for four hours. Calls started coming in and word spread. Two people that I love waited for me in the waiting room.
My condition was listed as critical. Friends were told that I might not make it. I remember very little of it. But what I faintly do remember is loving hands, kind words, and encouragement.
My body was treated with respect. I was treated as if I were still there and conscious. I was barely conscious. But I focused on the goodness and not the terrible. I remember faintly thinking how lucky I was.
After it became apparent that I would live, help started pouring in. People came to me just to bring me a chapstick that I wanted. Or a candy bar.
I remember getting calls although I was just barely conscious when I took them – I remember being loved. It wasn’t love like the feeling of a feather fan. Rather, it was strength and power from others formed into the words of love and admiration. It was as if they were saying,
“Take this. I am stronger now. Take this. I love you.”
I let the words and the light pour into me
Amazingly, my own strength returned more quickly than anyone expected. There was very little the doctors could do for me because of the kinds of injuries I had. They would either heal or they would not. I had eight breaks in my ribs, a broken clavicle, a mild concussion, a collapsed lung, and a pelvis broken in four places. Within a few days, I sat up.
There were constant calls and visits with constant good wishes. There were also many tears. People willing to turn their lives upside down for me, strengthened me.
My brother shut down his life and flew to me within hours. He showed no intention of leaving. I kept thinking, “all this for ME?” I was shocked. The pain lessened. I healed at a rapid pace. The doctors scratched their heads.
My little dog brought happiness
I focused on my dog. I want to raise this little guy and see him into old age. When things got rough, I saw him in my mind’s eye.
Later, he was allowed in when I was in rehab. He brought happiness to a lot of defeated people as he came through the public areas into my room each day.
I thought how lucky I was to be able to bring joy to all these sad people. And, how lucky I was to have a little dog like this.
I felt love from every direction. Surprisingly, I got stronger faster than expected and I was not depressed.
The first week, I walked with a walker. The doctors scratched their heads. I am still broken but I am stronger and I never give up.
Accepting love changed me forever
Being able to accept the outpouring of love and affection when I was injured changed me forever. It wasn’t the accident that changed me. It was seeing what the power of love can do when it is needed. And, also finding out how easily people will give it to you. I didn’t know. Or, I didn’t notice before.
Love isn’t everything. It is not a miracle drug. It is not always clear what it is. But, there are plenty of studies that indicate that if you are injured and you focus on what is being given to you by others, your chances of survival are better. You will heal faster. Your attitude will be better. I am living proof of that.
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First posted October 28, 2012, this story is being republished on 12/21/17 and again on 5/20/20 in order to share its message about the power of love with all of our readers, new and old, all around the world. Please share it widely.
Vicki Howell is a 65-year-old retired flight attendant. She makes funny videos to entertain her friends and to enter contests. She was named, “VideoVicki,” by the members of The View when she appeared as a guest. She lives her life with gusto and is glad to be alive. She doesn’t mind that you know her age. She is proud of it. She likes to think that she has an attitude.