It was dark.
It was cold.
I found myself, sitting in the rocks alongside a train that was slowly coming to a stop.
Blood on my hands, crying.
November 29, 1999
I started this Monday night by cleaning my truck out. I was going on a first date with a boy I met Downtown Appleton College Avenue. I guess I felt I might impress him with my clean vehicle...a little ironic that cleaning is one of my obsessions. Anyway, He came to my parent's house and I quickly introduced him so we could be on our way to rent a movie.
There isn't a lot I remember from this story but I will share what I do. I was driving on Hwy OO, going to make a left turn and noticed the warning lights for a train were sounding (they didn't have gates at this crossing...yet). I said to my date, "Do you see a train?" as I slowed, and he replied, "No".
So I went.
My truck was struck by a train, in my driver's side door, going 40 mph.
I still can't believe it was going 40 mph.
After the train hit my door, my truck spun around and was struck a second time on the rear passenger side.
I was ejected out of the back and was thrown onto the rocks alongside the train. The impact was so great that my tied tennis shoes were still on the gas pedal. My first date somehow ended up in the driver's area - what was left of it anyway.
Being that my parent's house is so close to the train tracks, they heard the train come to an abrupt stop (which doesn't happen unless something is wrong). My Mom called my cell phone several times and I didn't answer so she jumped in her car. She wasn't able to get near the accident because traffic was already being re-routed. She drove back home and sent my Dad out to see if he could get through on the other side of the tracks. He parked his truck and began making his way. As he jumped through the train cars, an officer stopped him just as I was being loaded into the ambulance. A man and his wife over heard him say to the officer, "That's my daughter." and offered to drive him home (and his truck). They were also kind enough to drive them to the hospital and waited there with them until the situation calmed down a bit.
When I arrived at the hospital, my brother was there at the entrance waiting for me. I can't even begin to express to you the comfort I felt looking into his eyes. I remember telling him that our Grandma Pauls got me out of the truck safe - she passed away in 1997. I am so thankful that she was put on my angel duty that night.
I left the hospital the next day. No broken bones. Alive.
I'm pretty sure that my body moved in ways that it will never move again. I basically walked away from an accident that people just don't survive with minor injuries. My two front teeth were broken in half, I had a 4 1/2" cut on my head and my entire body was bruised.
Why tell this story?
To marvel in the miracle of life. We are never guaranteed a tomorrow.
To remember why I am grateful and why I try to see the glass as half full instead of half empty.
This experience is why I put forth great effort to be the light in a dark, fallen world.
This experience is why I love and love to serve others.
This is why I am obedient to my faith. I know God has a plan and there is a great purpose for my life. God says:
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
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