“There’s been an accident. Mum and Dad were on their way to our place when they got hit by another car near the Addison Creek bridge. Dad phoned us to let us know and he seemed OK. Shaken but OK. Mum is still in the car though. Ambulances have been called. Dad’s not sure exactly what happened. Brad is on the way to the scene now.”
“It’s me again. Brad is there now. Mum and Dad’s car has been spun completely around. It’s in the middle of the road, facing back to the city. The traffic is banked up … way down the road.
“The police haven’t turned up yet. The ambulances are still on their way. Luckily there was a doctor – and three nurses – in the first few cars to stop. Talk about lucky. They’re looking after Mum.
“Umm, I don’t know how to say this … It looks like the other driver might have died. Brad says a black tarp has been put over the front of the car…
“I’ll call you when we find out more.”
“Me again. The SES have got Mum out. She’s in a lot of pain. Blood everywhere, apparently. Brad couldn’t really look. He’s not good with that stuff.
“Mum and Dad are in ambulances heading back to the city. We’re not sure which hospital – or whether they’ll go to the same hospital. Brad’s going to come back here and I will go into town.
“Oh, and they’re saying the other driver is OK. He was wandering about in the paddock where his car ended up. Someone said he clipped another car first. They reckon he was airborne when he hit Mum and Dad. They’re lucky to be alive. Very.
“I’ll call you when I know which hospital they’re going to.”
This is a fictionalised version of events that occurred in my family a little over a week ago. Because I don’t always trust my memory, because details are still somewhat sketchy, because I didn’t attend the scene and because there may be criminal charges involved, I’ve chosen to change names, locations and omit details. It’s a short story now but not entirely removed from my understanding of the truth.
To those of you who have been asking after my parents, thank you. They are both home from hospital. Dad’s OK. Mum has a cracked sternum, five broken ribs, a punctured lung and stitches in her hand where she tried to fend off the approaching vehicle. She’s still very sore but glad to be home.
It’s not all that many years since a head-on accident at high speed would almost certainly have been fatal. This lucky escape is a reminder that you never know when your most recent conversation with someone will be your last. That you should listen to loved ones, enjoy shared moments and not leave things unsaid.
Because centimetres and seconds shape our lives.