I had bought my wedding dress. I had called and reserved the church and was planning a bridesmaids gathering to officially ask the 6 most important girls in my life to stand with me and help me on my big day. I had met and reserved our photographer. I was incredibly excited and Clay and I were in full “wedding mode”! On this particular January Friday in 2007, I was headed home to a bridal fair with my mom in Cleveland….
I wasn’t excited about the drive home but was hoping to meet some potential vendors for our October wedding. I packed my clothes, kissed Clay goodbye and loaded Chester into my 1991 silver Camry. I had made this drive a million times.
I was running on fumes. I needed a break. I was working full time, working on my Master’s Degree and trying to plan a wedding. I was exhausted. Interesting how prayers are answered and fate deals your cards…
On this date, I am unbelievably grateful:
- that my parents were at home and awake
- that the wreck happened in close proximity to a great hospital
- that no one was killed
- that I was hit head-on by a drunk driver, and not an elderly couple or a family with young children
- that I drove a tank! My 91 Camry stood its ground as his 06 hit me head-on at 65 MPH
- for Hamilton Co. EMT – particularly a young girl named Emily, who kept me calm
- for Erlanger Hospital, its staff and specialists – Dr. Smith, though brutal, never let up.
- for The River Emergency Animal Clinic – this clinic, a few miles from Erlanger, is staffed with incredibly compassionate people; they helped calm Chester’s fears, control his internal bleeding and treat his punctured kidneys.
- for Chattanooga Police Department and Chattanooga Fire Department – an officer (whose name I never learned), held Chester until my parents could reach him while I was loaded into the ambulance. Poor guy even held on after Chester bit him!
- for the (uninjured!) people he hit before me. I know this sounds crazy, but without those fender benders on the slower side roads, there is really no telling how fast he could have been going. They helped slow him down. They also called the police and sent them flying after him…in my direction!
- for my parents – I don’t even know where to begin. One or both of them stayed with me every second of every day for 11 days. The other would visit Chester and report on his progress. They held my hand, brushed my teeth and even bathed me as I lay helpless in the hospital. I am blessed with the most amazing parents and am so thankful I am able to hug, kiss, talk to and tell them how much I love them.
- for my sister, in-laws and other family members – their visits, encouragement, prayers and gifts were so uplifting. They traveled from Atlanta, Athens, Birmingham, Knoxville and Cookeville to be with me. I am so lucky to have amazing family!
- for Andrew Disbrow – he drove from Knoxville to Cookeville to pick up my sister, before she even knew about the wreck. He knew she needed him and I needed her. He drove her from Cookeville to Chattanooga, fearful of her driving after such a shock. He will always be a special part of our family.
- for our friends – Wendy was at the hospital, I’m certain, when the visitor’s doors opened! I think I woke up the next morning and she was already there! Anna, Leslie, Ann and Mollie drove from all over the state to visit, offering prayers, encouragement and thoughtful gifts! Clay’s friends were great about calling and offering their prayers and support. I was so lucky to have such fantastic people around me!
- for Broad Street United Methodist Church – Rev. Ferguson and his staff visited me at Erlanger and offered his support, council and strength to my family and me. Clay and I were honored to have him marry us in his church.
- for my office – My boss was so understanding. I’m lucky to be a state employee. Sure, I’m not paid the best, but other perks often make up for the pay! I was not docked any sick time or vacation time, and was given all the time I needed. Peggy Smith, a victim/witness coordinator in our office, did a bit of detective work and was able to get all the important information from CPD and contacted the Hamilton Co. DA’s office before I was out of the hospital! The guys I worked with in court called and sent flowers. Sheila, who had not been with us very long, really suffered, did the work of two people and held down the fort while I recovered.
- for my sorority and Clay’s fraternity – my sisters (alumni) joined together and made a beautiful care package filled with yummy treats, food and flowers. Clay’s fraternity brothers sent beautiful white roses that made me cry.
- for Clay – wow. What a prince! He held my hand, kissed away my tears and rarely left my side. He sacrificed grades in his Master’s program and was penalized for missing classes, and he still never left! His strength encouraged me, his love calmed me and his tenderness relieved me. Although I knew without a doubt that he was my soulmate, this event simply reconfirmed and strengthened our bond.
This date always brings tears. I’m not sure if I didn’t realized how lucky I am or if I just have more to be thankful for these days, but for whatever reason, this year has been harder than past. Either way, I’m incredibly grateful.
Ironically, we have decided to plan weddings and events although our planning was so tainted and set back! Thanks everyone for letting me ramble; it was very therapeutic!