Don't. Blink.

I know I'm going to die.
I'm not sure if I'm obsessed with it, or if secretly it is normal for it to be in the back (or front) of everyone's mind but nobody mentions it, so the notion stays squashed in order to go on living our day to days...
What I am surely obsessed with is protecting my daughter.  In every capacity of all spectrums.  Not much gets past me because I barely ever blink around her.

I want nothing more than for our daughter to live out her life and to love and to spread joy and help heal the cruelties and fears of the world's inhabitants. Tall order? (Warning: sidebar, pulpit rant!). It's not up to her, or 'us', or our parents or theirs...it is somewhere in between all of those and these generational intersections.  Somewhere in the 'in betweens', we all...all of us...inherited some level of complacency.  Doing things that hurt others without facing or acknowledging consequence or result...because nowadays 'Survival' is beyond survival of the fittest- it has become "he who dies with the most toys, wins"...without respect to the babies being born, as politicians grease or get greased to continue to perpetuate the catapult of industries that strip from the health of our future and feed the anti-productive industries.  How could it be humanly possible for men to be raping women, for children to be neglected, abused or murdered, or for the love of money to ensure our nation ingests food that is bad for our bodies at very least...when there is this variety of love when looking at my child-knowing that the majority of mothers and fathers on this earth share this involuntary impulse to love and protect...how could there be cruelty or suffering.

So, you're welcome. Lol... A glimpse into the very busy mind of Heather Horton-Murphy.  Michael is a Saint to make it through the days of my constant 'biting off more than I can chewitis'.  2 days ago, I managed to punch myself in the face trying to cut tree branches-chipping a tooth, got bit by poison oak cutting back bushes and then almost took my thumb off in the garbage disposal. Michael reminded me 'these things come in threes'...so I took that as some sort of relief and resolve...until...

...Yesterday, life imitated art.  'Sirens', a gut-wrenching, heart-piercing song, penned by Michael this year, literally sucks the air from my lungs every time we reach the last verse...this is where the main character of the song finds out his wife and daughter are t-boned by a Lincoln...and killed.

I saw it all, like many experience, in slow motion.  We were on our way to meet a cousin at the pool, leisurely driving down beautiful 79th/German Church Road, when upon entering the Wolf Road intersection, I watched as a speeding orange sports car, was not stopping. I locked the brakes and surrendered to the impact. Dead center for the T-bone, I saw a river of green, broken glass and white...(as Willie called them later, "covers", were the air bags). On impact, we flipped upside down and spun 360 degrees while continuing to flip landing back on our wheels on the opposite corner of the intersection miraculously not hitting any of the on coming cars, light poles while we were inches from taking outs both.

At impact, I was sure that it was over for me, but in those 7 seconds, I somehow super-rationalized that perhaps Willie would live.  But when I realized I was still alive when we landed, my terror evolved into what condition Willie was potentially in.  I carry a specific episode of the family on Oprah who lost all of their kids from a semi slamming into them from behind.. and run scenarios through my head on preventative maneuvers for the agony I feel for merely seeing a surviving parent on TV...or my friend's friend who lost their little boy being hit in a crosswalk by a cab...take me.  They say you never know what love is until you have a child and realize that -without blinking-you would hurl yourself in front of a moving train to save your child. It is factual. Take. Me. But there were no tracks to dive for now.  It was the literal moment of truth. Then I heard the screaming...blood-curdling, screaming- it was music to my ears.  I didn't blink...and then began my Emmy award winning 4 hour performance of, "this is going to be a new and very exciting adventure, Willie!"  Before I could even see her, I ripped my seatbelt off and lifted the airbags up and asked her, "was that scary, honey" as I jumped out to get her out - "yyyesssss" she said softly silencing her screams...but the door was completely plowed in, I dove back the car and pulled her out of her car seat and through the front seat agreeing with her that THAT was sooooo scary but everything is going to be alright...she didn't shed another tear.  I wouldn't let go until the paramedics pulled her from my arms to place us both in traction on gurneys...we held hands and talked about silly things laying side by side. And we heard "Sirens".

Before the police and paramedics arrived I went with Willie in arms, to face the man in the other car. I told him I'm not even sure what God is but he had better get on his knees and thank God nothing happened to my child...he was like a big sad Teddy bear and wouldn't stop apologizing...so we just hugged him.  Then we hugged the first witness to call 911 ('hug' in the arena of 'clutch-suction power hold, never-gonna-let-u-go hug') then let me call Michael from her phone (she was still trembling because we apparently just missed her while we were spinning) - a flight attendant on her way to the airport and at some point hugged both officers on the scene before we were corralled to the ambulance.  There were 5 or 6 paramedics and they all confessed eventually that they had never witnessed any two people waltzing out of a wreck like this.  They would confirm later, as well as an officer, that the fact we missed all the poles and cars was what may have saved us.

Michael met us at LaGrange hospital (absolutely superb, amazing, wonderful people) where they ran a bunch of X-rays and cleared me.  Willie suffered some abrasions around her neck and legs by the straps that saved her life in her car seat.  I had to pick out a few pieces of glass from my leg and forehead- I had bit through my tongue and my neck is stiff.  It is all a miracle.  What could possibly matter more than another day to love one another...?

Before we could leave the hospital, Michael had to go across town to get a new car seat for Willie, so we could get home.  Safely...all together.  We all slept in the same bed last night, but before Willie fell asleep in my arms, she made me promise that I would call the other driver and forgive him...so I did.  Well, sort of.  I asked his insurance agent, who called today, to tell his client that Willie and I forgive him.  And I probably only can because Willie is alive and well.  The insurance agent said he doesn't think he would be able to forgive him if he were us...my guess is this agent, 'Mike', deals with a whooooooole lot of verrrrrrrry angry adults on a daily basis.  My Willie kept me in line, though.


Today I went to retrieve items from the totaled car. The towing service was off a gravel road, off of another gravel road underneath Highway 55. I was greeted by a locked building door and not one, but two giant, unleashed, matted German Shepards that appeared from around the side of the shop- I was straight up Chevy Chase from, "Fletch". On the way there, I passed not one, but two funeral processions on Archer Ave...just blocks from one another.  I said a prayer to 'whatever God' might hear for each hearse...oddly, there appeared to be three...I didn't blink.

16 comments

  • Dave Reidy

    Dave Reidy Chicago

    Heather, Michael & Willie, I think we all know someone was looking over you and I have a gut feeling who it might have have been besides GOD. I am so happy to hear you are both doing well after such a horrific life experience. Thinking of the three of you and I am also thankful the car you were driving passed the ultimate crash test.

    Heather, Michael & Willie,

    I think we all know someone was looking over you and I have a gut feeling who it might have have been besides GOD. I am so happy to hear you are both doing well after such a horrific life experience. Thinking of the three of you and I am also thankful the car you were driving passed the ultimate crash test.

  • Susan Mason

    Susan Mason Lombard, IL

    Dear Heather, As I held my breath, my heart was pounding loudly as I read your horrifying story. I felt real fear. I realized that you, Michael and Willie feel like family to me. Your music has let me into your lives and allowed a view into your hearts. You have, and continue to, touch so many lives with your talents. I'm sure there are many, including me, who are thankful that you survived this terrible experience and can continue to share your gifts with so many who love you.

    Dear Heather, As I held my breath, my heart was pounding loudly as I read your horrifying story. I felt real fear. I realized that you, Michael and Willie feel like family to me. Your music has let me into your lives and allowed a view into your hearts. You have, and continue to, touch so many lives with your talents. I'm sure there are many, including me, who are thankful that you survived this terrible experience and can continue to share your gifts with so many who love you.

  • Laurie

    Laurie Wisconsin

    Your family doesn't just write stories and sing songs, it changes lives. Your words are gifts of your heart, and your soul. I'm so thankful that you are both safe and here to continue to teach others your loving, forgiving ways. I wish more people were as strong, caring and sharing during such a difficult time. Appreciate every moment... Don't blink... Hugs to you all!

    Your family doesn't just write stories and sing songs, it changes lives. Your words are gifts of your heart, and your soul. I'm so thankful that you are both safe and here to continue to teach others your loving, forgiving ways. I wish more people were as strong, caring and sharing during such a difficult time. Appreciate every moment... Don't blink... Hugs to you all!

  • Vicki Dunn

    Vicki Dunn Verona, WI

    Dearest Heather, I am all teared up reading this. So very thankful you and Willie are alright.I so understand the drive to protect your children boarders almost on paranoia. Tons of love to all of you!

    Dearest Heather,
    I am all teared up reading this. So very thankful you and Willie are alright.I so understand the drive to protect your children boarders almost on paranoia. Tons of love to all of you!

  • Ray Robinson

    Ray Robinson Lexington, KY

    Heather, wow! As Susan said earlier, my heart was pounding as I read this as well! I am so glad you both are ok!! I especially love Willie's heart and compassion for this other person...a lesson for all of us right there. Heather, Michael and Willie...I wouldn't feel right not sharing what was on my heart after reading this. You see, I do believe in miracles...miracles from God. I could rattle on of my own experience but what comes to mind is a story from John 9. Jesus heals a blind man...but unique to this story is that the blind man didn't ask for it. Jesus performed the miracle not knowing what would come of it...but in hopes that, as He says, "so the power of God would be seen in him." Another neat aspect of the story in John 9 is that it took time before the man, healed directly by Jesus, came to know who He really is. Anyways, I can't help feel myself, a connection to your story. You may not see it now, but over time, you may piece this story together as a miracle from Him. In my household, we will pray you do. Regardless, we will be thankful for your safety...and as you said, another day you have to love one another! :)

    Heather, wow! As Susan said earlier, my heart was pounding as I read this as well! I am so glad you both are ok!! I especially love Willie's heart and compassion for this other person...a lesson for all of us right there.

    Heather, Michael and Willie...I wouldn't feel right not sharing what was on my heart after reading this. You see, I do believe in miracles...miracles from God. I could rattle on of my own experience but what comes to mind is a story from John 9. Jesus heals a blind man...but unique to this story is that the blind man didn't ask for it. Jesus performed the miracle not knowing what would come of it...but in hopes that, as He says, "so the power of God would be seen in him." Another neat aspect of the story in John 9 is that it took time before the man, healed directly by Jesus, came to know who He really is. Anyways, I can't help feel myself, a connection to your story. You may not see it now, but over time, you may piece this story together as a miracle from Him. In my household, we will pray you do. Regardless, we will be thankful for your safety...and as you said, another day you have to love one another! smile

  • laura

    laura como, italy

    forgiveness is related with love. and it's the best thing for a human being. the thing that makes a human being more than he (or she) is. quite a god, actually. I'm glad you're safe.

    forgiveness is related with love. and it's the best thing for a human being. the thing that makes a human being more than he (or she) is. quite a god, actually. I'm glad you're safe.

  • Jennifer Marchesi

    Jennifer Marchesi Nashville, Tn

    Tears streamed down my face reading this. Your story does comfort me ,in a strange way, as I am having my own daily panic attacks about sending my 18 year old baby out into the world to a new life in college. No longer to be able to see him every morning and make sure he's home at night. I understand the love of a child & knowing that doing anything possible to keep them safe to have another day...I am so happy yall are doing okay.

    Tears streamed down my face reading this. Your story does comfort me ,in a strange way, as I am having my own daily panic attacks about sending my 18 year old baby out into the world to a new life in college. No longer to be able to see him every morning and make sure he's home at night. I understand the love of a child & knowing that doing anything possible to keep them safe to have another day...I am so happy yall are doing okay.

  • Kevin

    Kevin

    Thank you for sharing. You have to believe that you were being watched over and protected for a reason. Be very happy.

    Thank you for sharing. You have to believe that you were being watched over and protected for a reason. Be very happy.

  • Becky

    Becky Madison

    Good lord, I have tears in my eyes. What a harrowing tale. You are a generous, kind soul and the universe has acknowledged that. I'm so glad you are both safe. Take good care of yourself and your family. Much love.

    Good lord, I have tears in my eyes. What a harrowing tale. You are a generous, kind soul and the universe has acknowledged that. I'm so glad you are both safe. Take good care of yourself and your family. Much love.

  • rachel

    rachel italy

    amazing. absolutely amazing. i'm so glad that neither of you were badly hurt or worse. your words are so insightful... that is one lucky bad driver. hugs.

    amazing. absolutely amazing. i'm so glad that neither of you were badly hurt or worse. your words are so insightful... that is one lucky bad driver. hugs.

  • heather

    heather chicago

    hey everyone...thank you for all of your thoughts and compassion and empathy. We can't believe the restoration of faith in humanity receiving the written reactions to what happened to us. I guess we are all truly, inherently selfless to the core-it's just the every day minutia that clutters our sights...perhaps a survival defense mechanism...either way...it is pretty priceless to share the eye opening with friends near and far, who also have people they love more than life, itself...

    hey everyone...thank you for all of your thoughts and compassion and empathy. We can't believe the restoration of faith in humanity receiving the written reactions to what happened to us. I guess we are all truly, inherently selfless to the core-it's just the every day minutia that clutters our sights...perhaps a survival defense mechanism...either way...it is pretty priceless to share the eye opening with friends near and far, who also have people they love more than life, itself...

  • Marissa J

    Marissa J Augusta GA

    Heather, you will live and relive this sentinel event over and again. Each time. Each time, you will be amazed and in awe of how--in the blink of your eye--your perspective of life took on a life of its' own. As a Mom, I sincerely respect your fierce lioness protectiveness for Willie. As a trauma nurse, my mantra is "we are guaranteed this minute". As hospice nurse to my Mother dying from acute myeloid leukemia, I cannot tell you what "God" or His Angels look like.... But I was with my 100% lucid Mom when Angels came to wait with her....and saw her face & countenance shine in their presence. No, I couldn't see them but I could see them through her. We have God. And we have Angels. We have more than an Earthly death. Peace & Blessings. Long live precious Willie. She is so beautiful.

    Heather, you will live and relive this sentinel event over and again. Each time. Each time, you will be amazed and in awe of how--in the blink of your eye--your perspective of life took on a life of its' own. As a Mom, I sincerely respect your fierce lioness protectiveness for Willie. As a trauma nurse, my mantra is "we are guaranteed this minute". As hospice nurse to my Mother dying from acute myeloid leukemia, I cannot tell you what "God" or His Angels look like.... But I was with my 100% lucid Mom when Angels came to wait with her....and saw her face & countenance shine in their presence. No, I couldn't see them but I could see them through her. We have God. And we have Angels. We have more than an Earthly death. Peace & Blessings. Long live precious Willie. She is so beautiful.

  • Greg

    Greg Skokie, Il

    Reading this...seeing it on facebook...hearing it from a dear friend...seeing the images and grasping the moment you shared as a family makes ones heart ache...Thankfully you are all safe...

    Reading this...seeing it on facebook...hearing it from a dear friend...seeing the images and grasping the moment you shared as a family makes ones heart ache...Thankfully you are all safe...

  • Catherine Plunkett

    Catherine Plunkett

    My hands are shaking & I am thanking God right now. Love to you all.

    My hands are shaking & I am thanking God right now. Love to you all.

  • FRAN MILDICE

    FRAN MILDICE Plainfield I

    THANKS FOR SHARING. God loves us so much and we learn from the young ones...strength,love and compassion. Thanks to Joe n Di for introducing your music to me. Keep it up!

    THANKS FOR SHARING. God loves us so much and we learn from the young ones...strength,love and compassion. Thanks to Joe n Di for introducing your music to me. Keep it up!

  • Joni Hillyer Leer

    Joni Hillyer Leer WI

    The 10 year old girl I remember has grown up to become a beautiful phenomenal woman. I'm not surprised that Willie is so wonderful, because look at who she has raising her!

    The 10 year old girl I remember has grown up to become a beautiful phenomenal woman. I'm not surprised that Willie is so wonderful, because look at who she has raising her!

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