Thursday, April 22, 2010

So, honey...the car caught on fire...

Driving to see my parents today- the car started to act really weird.  I surprisingly kept my cool--and turned on the hazards, while it slowed....I thought, maybe it was running out of gas, which seemed weird since it hadn't beeped at me, and it was at 1/4 of a tank last I looked.   And then , it revved and tried to speed itself up...I remember the gas pedal pushing itself all the way to the floor, on it's own...which made me think maybe the Cruise Control was going crazy.  I looked for the nearest exit- 1 mile.  There was no way I was going to make it so I pulled to the side of the highway.  We are talking BUSY, busy, BUSY highway. 

I saw smoke coming from the hood--and then waited for a quick break in 70mph traffic to sneak out of my car and lift the hood.  Not sure what I was going to do with it lifted--but I thought I'd better take a look.  So, after figuring out how to actually lift the hood--I looked and saw nothing, really -just some smoke.  So, I thought--overheated.

I went to the passengers side door, to lean in and check on the kids and have a seat--when I saw smoke rolling into the cabin from the low dash area.  This was not good.  I quickly, got out, and opened the kids door nearest the field -- and got them unbuckled and out of the car.  I stood them far away.  I walked towards the car- seeing a small flame underneath the car on the asphalt.  I grabbed what I saw in the passengers seat (my overnight bag, Alexis' overnight bag, my purse, pictures we brought for grandma and pretzels.)  I wasn't thinking about what I was grabbing--I was just grabbing what I saw-- and quickly.  If I had been thinking, I wouldve grabbed chargers, gps, tvs and Jaxen's bags.  But, instead the pretzels were there and I took them ? 

I don't remember shutting the doors to the car--but apparently I did.  At this point, I am not sure what would have been better , opened or shut.  I walked the kids as far away as we could in brush.  I thought, if the car went into flames, the hay wouldn't be far behind. 

I didn't hesitate even for a second as I called 911, to tell them that my car was about to go up in flames.  Instead my trusty mobile phone decided to ask me 3 times, if I was sure I wanted to enter into emergency mode...yes, yes, yes.  I talked to the dispatcher, and shockingly could tell her my exact location.  (I never pay attention to these things) - She already knew I had 2 kids w/ me, so another passeryby must have called it in. 

I hung up with them, in time to see a truck pull over with a man and a wife about my parents age.  They were the sweetest souls in the world, helping in any possible way.  They told us about their grandkids and he collected all the photos that were now flying around the field for grandma.  When the police officers got there, the man filled them in, and helped me to carry the kids thru the brush to get to the officer's vehicles.  The woman carried our bags- I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for those travellers to have stopped on their route from TX to Illinois.  I may have gotten a wild hair to open up the car, and get Jaxen's bag which he was asking about...the man had warned me that if I opened the doors w/ that much heat and smoke inside--it would blow up.   But, I wouldn't have known that--I may have thought the opposite.

The firefighters came w/ 3 trucks and took care of the car-investigating the cause.  Electric.  They called the towing company for me, and then the officers waited for my mom to come and pick us up.  While I took pictures of the car and thanked the men who helped me-- Alexis and Jaxen got a little hands-on lesson with the police officers and their paperwork. 

I look back and wonder how I worked so quickly, and w/o any hesitation to get us to safety-- and how I kept my cool thru all of the chaos- and I don't see the Sarah I expected to see.  You see, I am the girl who frantically freaks out at a car issue.  Stuck in the middle of an intersection--oh my gosh....I thought I would be that same girl, because:

No one told me what to look for in a car that is going to blow up.
No one told me how to handle two curious children on a busy highway, while trying to stay far away from the car.
No one told me their son might want his Buzz Lightyear bag, after I have forgotten it-and the fire has begun.
No one told me that it can get so hot in the car from just smoke that it can start to melt things.
No one told me not to fill up with gasoline that morning--but by not doing so--weakened the fire- because of lack of accelerant. ( Thank you gas station by my house, that was too busy for me to bother stopping in)

But, also:
No one told me I was going to be strong enough, when it mattered.
No one told me I was going to be calm and peaceful thru the storm.
No one told me I would have someone holding my hand thru  this obstacle, as I held on tightly to the 2 things that mattered the most to me in this world.  (Thank you sweet angels, from Texas for stopping on your trip cross country to stand with a scared girl and her 2 babies, because you saw your own daughter and grandkids standing there)
No one told me even Starbucks and new heels would take the trauma of the event away. 

I appreciate every single person who worked hard on keeping me and my children safe today- I cannot thank you enough!  For those of you who said a prayer of concern or gratitude--thank you.  For all of you-- may you never have to pull out your children from a car that is going up in flames--and if you do, may you be led by whatever led me today, making my actions possible in the midst of chaos.

Life goes down to many twists and turns-- just yesterday I was giggling under a pink umbrella, walking down the street- today, it could have been much worse-but, I got lucky and  I  was a hero to my children.  ( I use that word with great hesitation, because I don't like to call myself that...but I cannot think of another word) and whatever/whomever gave me that strength -- THANK YOU!

ps. if part of this doesn't make sense-- I apologize- I took ambien before writing the hopes for a peaceful night of sleep.


Jeff said...

Sarah.. I have to say, that this brought tears to my eyes as I was reading it..I really was feeling for you, and tried to put myself in your position, and how i'd feel if that had been me out there. I do believe someone was definietly watching over you today, and I am so thankful for that! You are such a good friend and you hate to see your friends going through something as scary as that. I am soo grateful you 3 are safe.. Love you! Wendy

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how much strength a person has in times of adversity. You are a strong person Sarah and in the last year I also have learned that I can do things I never thought I could. God Bless you all and may our gaurdian angels always be with us!!...Love, Doris

Deb said...

I am so glad we could send up prayers for your safety! Thanks to Jan and Faye for eating kids meals at the resturant, little things but necessary so I could leave asap! Love you always...Mom