May is undoubtably filled with many hard anniversaries for my life. Scattered throughout the 365 short days that compress to what seems like a long year, are beautiful yet difficult dates of remembrance due to loss and life challenges. For those grieving, there are incomplete emotions intertwined with specific dates and I believe this will always occur to a certain degree. For me, May is difficult because of Mother’s Day, Mikey’s birthday, Carlleena’s accident date, parallel universe entry date and birthday…and my breast cancer diagnosis date. It is a tough month emotionally but I am honored to embrace the sometimes difficult benefits of loving so deeply and growing more resilient. Although it is a heavily memory triggered month, it serves as a reminder at how precious and short life truly is and the benefits of having loved so much
On this day 4 years ago, Carlleena was in a hit and run car accident that could have and probably should have ended her life on this day. God decided that she needed a little more time on earth with us, so she hung on for 19 more days before her passing. I remember the phone call…her voice on the other line was strong yet scared. She said that she had been in a really bad accident and she was stuck in the car. She couldn’t get out and the guy that hit her ran. I asked where she was and told her that i loved her and I was on my way. That is one drive that I don’t recall. I don’t know how fast I was going, I remember my heart feeling as though it was in a tight hold by something I couldn’t see. I called Uncle Kevin because I knew chances of him being close by were great, and he was. He was actually home that day. I called her when I was about 5 minutes from the accident scene and what I heard on the other end was unidentifiable communication. She was speaking but it was garbled and seemed of another language. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying because she was getting ready to pass out. I hung up the phone and was enraged at the thought that those sounds could be the last words I would hear from her. I remember beating on the steering wheel because I knew it could take it and it would feel nothing like I did at that moment. I screamed. What exactly, I don’t know but it seemed needed so I followed through. I prayed and cried intently along that drive. I didn’t want that to be embedded in my memory as the last words. And thankfully they are not, but they are still a memory.
As I drove up to the accident scene the ambulance was pulling off. I followed and all I could see was the rear of her car, I never saw the front end damage. I know she had her bike on the rack on her roof and both the bike and roof rack were thrown off during impact. That day she was taking her bike to the shop and going to deliver a painting “Have U.N.E more Pull” to the Mint Museum Uptown where it was going to be displayed for an art show. Regardless, neither item made it to its destination. The painting is on my living room wall with minor damage and the bike hangs in my garage with damage marked in blue painter’s tape.
That night we got home from the hospital and as I was getting Carlleena settled in for what rest she could capture, she wanted to tell me about the accident. She believed it was supposed to happen. I am normally a believer of similar sorts, that everything happens for a reason, but this I wasn’t agreeing with. I listened to her story and understood how she believed it was supposed to happen but I didn’t understand the reason at that moment. I since have learned that when bad things happen to good people, the reason may not always be for us. The reason may be for someone that we have never met. The reason may be for the guy that hit her and then fled the scene on foot. They later found him via helicopter. Carlleena originally thought that he ran because the car was on fire. It wasn’t until he stopped and turned around after his initial take off and locked eyes with her that she realized he was fleeing the scene. I met him 7 months later as I spoke to him in court. After the hearing, his very pregnant girlfriend was outside and we locked eyes. I could tell that she had already been crying and I wasn’t sure what the reason, but in my mind, I felt the emotions falling off of her from the thought that I lost someone important, her seeing him knowing he would be there for a while longer and her flowing off of the gut wrenching emotions I just expressed behind those doors. As I began to walk toward her, I remember her looking down at the floor as if she wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I walked to her and hugged her and she cried. I had tears in my eyes. She said she was so sorry. I looked at her and said God Bless her and her baby and I walked away.
A few days after the accident I had to go to the junk yard and obtain the personal items from Carlleena’s car. When I walked up and the man told me that was her car, I hardly recognized it. I guess walking through viewing all the other cars that had damage and my mind wandering to the condition of it’s owner had me in a fog. I do not see how she made it out. The jaws of life had to be used to get her out. As I walked to the rear of the car to get the license plate off, tears streamed down my face and I began to sob. I remember the gentleman who walked me through the yard looking over at me with grief in his eyes and I looked to him and said you must see this quite a bit. He said yes ma’am I do. I drive past the accident scene often, as it is 3.5 miles from my house, so it is kind of hard to avoid it. But I’m not someone that likes to avoid the difficult stuff. The first couple of years I would stop at the accident scene and place roses from my rose bush and have a few moments, but the nice people like to stop and ask if I need help with my car lol…politely interrupting my moments. Those roses are in my house instead of on the side of the road today. I am thankful to have had 19 more days witnessing her strength and creating more memories.