So Lucky – Lessons from a Car Crash

The driver pulled out without paying attention, smacking into my boys in their candy red mini. Smacking them so hard that they spun around and plowed into a parked car. Time slows down in an accident. Steve saw him coming, knew the crash was about to happen, but had no time to do anything but shout at the top of his lungs. His primal scream, more than the crash that followed, shook Jack to his core. This morning on the way to school with a quiver in his voice, he told me that he kept hearing dad scream in his head, over and over again.


Steve’s voice sounded so calm when he called me that I didn’t accept that the accident could be serious. I drove down slowly, carefully, still mentally planning dinner and tallying who had homework left to do. When I saw the flashing flashing police lights, diverting traffic, I got the chills. Whenever I pass emergency vehicles, I thank the powers that be that it’s not my family. This time it was my boys.

Jack and Steve Fishermen

At a time of crisis, just like in day to day, platitudes come out of my mouth. “Time flies.” “They get big so quickly.” They annoy me as I say them, but I say them anyway. After the crash was no different. I found myself saying over and over again, “We’re so lucky. So lucky no one was hurt. We’re so lucky.”

But the truth is that nothing felt lucky about what happened. Yes, no one was hurt, but our date night car was destroyed, towed away and most likely unsalvageable. Three weeks into Steve’s new job with a long commute, we were going to have to fork out a bunch of money on a new car, or find a used one to match whatever settlement check the insurance company issued. So yes, while we were lucky no one got hurt, the accident still felt like a huge, terrifying inconvenience.

It wasn’t until bedtime that I realized how lucky we truly were. As I reached to ruffle Jack’s hair, I felt the lump, raised and hot on the back of his head. He swore with a tired voice that his head didn’t hurt, the lump only hurt when I pressed it. After a three hour baseball game and all the emotions of the car crash, his exhaustion seemed normal. I let him go to sleep, but the feel of that lump stayed with me. It was as if under my fingers, I could feel the impact of the other car hitting them, and the force with which his unprepared body hit the head rest. All that violence and just a bump, we were indeed very lucky.

After I kissed him and tip toed downstairs, I started researching the costs of new cars. We have never leased a car, but consider doing it every time we buy. I wondered what would happen if you crashed a leased car. Turns out the financial implications of that can be brutal. If you don’t purchase gap insurance, you could be on the hook for the difference between the insurance company car valuation and the leasing company valuation. Once again, I realized how lucky we were, having no car debt to factor into the situation.

Not quite twenty-four hours after the accident, I’m uttering the platitude and actually believing it. We were the victims of a car crash yesterday, and we were so lucky. You never know when a crash could happen. Take a minute to review your insurance to make sure you’re covered adequately and know how much your car is worth. Sometimes just being prepared is enough to keep a bad situation from getting worse.


5 Responses to So Lucky – Lessons from a Car Crash

  1. I’m glad they are okay! Since becoming a mom that whole “what if?”thing pops into my head. It’s so scary and, yes, lucky, lucky, lucky.

    We just bought a new-to-us car through a local dealership. It’s four years old with not too many miles and I’m quite happy with it- also happy that we bought an extended warranty, which has covered some minor issues, like a nail that deflated a tire a couple of weeks ago.

    Buying a gently used car is another option. We’ve bought new in the past, mostly for reassurance, but as soon as you drive that puppy off the lot, it’s lost a lot of value.

    Good luck with the car search and the newish job for S!

  2. I’m always impressed with you Vanessa. Even in the pain and terror of it all, you find a way to share your learnings and encourage us all to think about how to be better. BIG relief that everyone is ok, and hoping for fast emotional and physical healing. XO!

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