On Friday, January 5th, 2018, my family and I were driving home from a fantastic week spent up in Whistler, B.C. We had rang in the New Year with my parents, brother, and his wife, playing in the snow, eating delicious meals, and drinking wine every night. All resolutions aside, I decided not the let the weight of the New Year sink in until after vacation. Who wants to start eating healthy and exercising when you have ample opportunities to dine out every day and an excuse to exclusively wear warm, puffy snow clothes!? It was hard to finally pack up to leave; in fact, we ended up staying one more night than we had originally planned to because it was just that much fun! My daughter, especially, was so enjoying the snow – looking at it out the window every morning, sledding each afternoon, and getting unlimited snuggles from grandma & grandpa. We were truly leaving Winter Wonderland.
It was a wet day, that Friday, and as snow turned to slush, we were on our way south. About twenty minutes into our drive, I heard a loud crash! Panic immediately set in. Did a pack of snow just hit us? Did a tree fall?? The sound of the glass shattering above me forced a shrill scream out of the depths of my belly. Was Malaya okay? Is she okay?? What just happened!?? Oh my God, oh my God!
I looked up and there was a hole the size of a basketball in the glass of our sunroof. Glass around the hole was shattering, and I was hyperventilating. My husband immediately took action and tried to calm me down because I was driving. He later told me that I was visibly shaking behind the wheel, and his main objective in the moment was to steady me so that we could continue driving safely. The road coming down from Whistler is steep and windy, and the pavement was particularly slick that afternoon, as freezing rain poured down from the sky. There was no shoulder to pull off to, so I had to keep driving. As cars whizzed past us, I remember shouting out loud, “What do we do!? What do we do!!?”
There was finally an opportunity to pull over into a truck U-turn area, so we could survey the damage. I was crying hysterically, likely still in shock, and all I wanted to do was call my mom. Of course my husband was wise, and he called my dad first, to calmly explain what had happened and to assure him first and foremost that we were okay. My parents were staying one more night in Whistler, so they were still at the lodge where we had come from. I felt like such a child again, weeping over the phone while I explained to my parents what had happened. I think I was mostly crying because I was so grateful – so grateful that my daughter wasn’t hurt and so grateful that my husband and I were okay.
We pulled all of the shattered glass from the roof (picture below…and yes, that is my daughter’s sand bucket and shovel my husband is using to scoop glass with!). The craziest part about the entire event was that my daughter was so extremely tired by the time we got her and everything else packed up into the car that she fell asleep almost immediately upon decent and slept through the entire accident, my screaming and all!! We walk on eggshells when she’s napping at home, but clearly when tired enough…
It was a thirty-minute drive to the nearest town to try to figure out how we were going to cover our roof to safely drive home. The mesh sunshade that had likely saved our lives wasn’t going to keep us dry from the pounding rain, so we drove with two umbrellas open inside of the car and over our heads while we continued down the mountain. Now that’s something I wish I would’ve taken a picture of!! I imagine it was a peculiar, even comical scene for other drivers we managed to catch the attention of.
We found a Speedy Glass shop in Squamish that was wrapping up their work for the day, but after my husband explained our situation to them, they kindly agreed to help. We took Malaya out of the car, still asleep in her car seat, and waited in their store lobby while they vacuumed up the glass remnants still on the roof, covered the gaping hole with cardboard, and sealed off the top with a special plastic film. Malaya woke up while we were waiting, but it was like she could sense that something had happened. She didn’t make a sound, not a whine or cry, and instead just stayed sitting in her car seat very observantly. Getting back in the car once we were patched up was a different story; that’s when she protested, but we were just incredibly grateful to be on our way.
Mentally and emotionally exhausted by it all, the adrenaline running through my body kept me awake for almost the entire four hours it took us to get home. I tried to remember what I was thinking about right before the accident; there was a work email I had received that had been bothering me, and I couldn’t shake it at the time. The accident had smacked it out of my mind, and the emotion previously linked to it was gone. As I tried to work out in my head what had really happened (and we think what happened was that a rock tumbled off the mountain, smashed through our sunroof, and either bounced of the shade or hit us at such an angle that it didn’t tear through), all I kept coming back to was how thankful I was that my family was safe. That’s all that mattered.
When I finally crawled in bed last night, the tears came flooding out onto my pillow. It was nothing I could really control, as I think my body finally let go of the “what-ifs.” Thinking about what could have happened to us -- a second sooner, smashing through the front of our windshield or a second later, tearing through the roof above my baby girl -- is almost too scary to imagine. So yeah, the New Year did throw a rock at me, and that rock is a metaphor to wake up to what matters the most in this life. It’s not how many likes we get on social media, how much money we currently have, or how well we manage stress from work, it’s the people we love. Our family, and our friends who are like family, and the experiences we share with one another outweigh everything else. In a single moment, everything else fell away except for the people I cared for. My career, material goods, self-doubt that often makes its way into my consciousness – none of it mattered.
So I’d like to say that 2018 started with a “bang!” but in the way of an awakening of some sort. As scary as this experience was, there’s a feeling from it that I don’t want to lose. I want to be able to hold onto that nothing else matters aura. It’s going to remind me to live in the moment, to be grateful for every simple thing, and to live life with abandon. That rock was such a powerful reminder of how small we are in such a big world. It made me ache for all of the people and families who aren’t as lucky as we are, who don’t walk away from accidents, or life for that matter, without tragedy. This is something I will never forget, and I hope it makes me a kinder, gentler, more patient person.
Happy New Year, from our family to yours. Xo