This is Part 4 of a multi-part series. For the full story, begin with San Diego with Jet Blue
The flight from JFK to Rochester was an hour. My mother-in-law was safely back in her Coronado home after two years with us. I was looking forwardd to getting our bags, finding our new Nissan Sentra that we’d had for two weeks, and making the two hour drive home to our dogs, a drink, and a return to a quiet life.
After some searching we found the Nissan. “I love this car,” Linda said.I agreed. It was black, well-designed,and the first new car we’d ever had.
We paid our parking bill and headed out on South on 390. Linda called her sister in Coronado to let her know we’d made the 6,000 mile journey safely. She called our son, Nathan and told him we’d be home in two hours. He was ready for us to come home. He’d stayed at the house all week to take care of the gardens, clean and play with the dogs. He’d be leaving the next day for a camping trip in the Adirondacks that he’d spent two months planning with his high school friends.
It was 9 p.m.
I pictured, for the 100th time, sitting in the living room, luggage tossed in the corner, petting our dogs and sipping on a vodka and tonic.
We were both looking forward to the change of having our lives back for the first time in two years.
How does it happen? In myriad ways.
Sometimes with lightning speed.
Like headlights suddenly coming at us from a blind on ramp. My wife jumps. Our speed is 68 mph. I instinctively yank the wheel to the left to avoid the approaching car. New car. Not used to it. Turned wheel too fast and too far. I jerk the wheel to the right, then to the left.
We’re speeding to the left of the highway and hit the solid steel guardrail. The fender crumples as sparks fly. We bounce off the guardrail. I spin the wheel but it’s too late.
Everything is too late.
We’re out of control.
The Nissan fishtails across the highway. Linda screams. During this rushing millisecond I watch the guardrails rushing at us head on, knowing that I am helpless.
I don’t remember feeling fear, just utter helplessness, of fate rushing forward at what is now probably 65 miles an hour.
The crash is like an explosion, followed by the lighter sounds of glass and plastic falling all around us.
And then there is silence.