It’s that time of year again, except today’s anniversary has a special twist: it’s the exact same day as the day two drivers hit the car I was a passenger in and shoved us into the car of a third driver. It’s the exact same day I sustained a closed head injury. It’s like reliving it in real time.
Tammy DeSousa drove car #1. I remember it as red and small. Normand Landry drove car #2, the one I was in, the one that, lucky ducks that we were, got hit the most number of times. Kimberley Best drove car #3, an old one as I remember, the one that shocked me when it, from my perspective, came out of nowhere and banged into the rear of our stopped car. That memory makes my hands shake to this day. I was busy composing a scene in my head after having a near scare of almost hitting the car in front of us, Tammy’s car, as everyone ahead braked hard on the downhill of Highway 7 near Islington. There’s a sign at the top of the hill that tells drivers to SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. Well, OK, maybe it doesn’t swear at them, but the warning sign should have, the way the road was at night, at that time. Carla Marchetti drove car #4, the same kind of car I was in, a brand new one. I had just put my left hand up to cradle my neck, fearful of having had another whiplash injury, when she smacked into the back of Kimberley’s car, and he hit our rear again (and oh yes, Kimberley is a man. I know the lawyers kept exclaiming over it, but really people Kimberley is also a male name, get over it, I felt like telling the lawyers.) I went from shock to bigger shock. I don’t know how one does that. I could not believe we had been hit a second time. But my mind froze, my body froze, and then I was in an emotional storm, which when it passed was pretty much the end of my emotions for many years, except for the odd time when they’d burst out of their prison and take me for a wild ride. Anyway, either Kimberley or Carla pushed us into Tammy’s car, I don’t know which one. But I was told later, I had had three impacts to my brain.
Except for Landry, not one driver ever expressed his or her remorse for what they did to me. I understand that lawyers and insurance companies frown on apologies, bad, bad human-healing things that they are. But when the lawsuits and claims were over 8.5 years later, there was nothing stopping them. Of course, they may have forgotten all about it by then because, unlike the injured, the perpetrators and uninjured are not really involved after the deed. They show up at a legal Discovery for 45 minutes or a couple of hours and then again at trial, if there is one, and that’s pretty much it for them. Us injured, well, we endure years of crap: the numerous assessments, the mediations, the bullshit, it all goes on and on like some freaky, wicked energizer bunny. You think paying car insurance premiums is expensive and a pain; try making a claim, a legitimate well-backed claim. It’s a special kind of hell, and for us Canadians gives us a taste of what it would be like to have private health insurance instead of medicare. I value medicare more today than I did before my injury, not the health-care part, but the not-having-to-worry-about-the-finances part and some dickhead-bean-counter-determining-my-health-care part.
When I signed the settlement papers, I grumbled to my lawyer that no one had been held to account for the harm they’d caused me. He said if it makes you feel any better, they will be paying the highest insurance premiums. I doubted his certainty. I knew from another incident before this crash that the worst offenders get tossed from private insurance onto government insurance – I had no idea government had car insurance – and will suffer just from that as government, back in the 1990s anyway, had the worst claim record of any insurer. I thought that if what my lawyer had said was true and even better they were tossed to the government and had to make a claim and suffer that kind of special Hades in addition to any injuries, then maybe there was some justice. But I doubt it.
I can hear some saying to me silently, forgive them, it will make you feel better. Move on. (Gag me, I hate that phrase, it’s so full of false, reality-negating BS. One adjusts; one does not “move on.”) Well, no, forgiveness doesn’t make you feel better. All it does is allow you to live without thinking of them, being angry for the injustice, every day of your life. I forgave a long, long time ago. Anniversary days, of course, are different. But by tomorrow, I will have gotten through today…well, perhaps not, as memories of what happened on Sunday 11 years ago will probably surface. Well, OK, in a few days, I will have forgotten in the way I do and be living in the moment of the days to come, in the way that became the new me after the crash. And maybe next year, this day will be just another day.