I survived a pedestrian near-death hit-and-run. On March 9, 2018, Shabbat, 7:25 pm, at the corner of Livonia and Pickford, in the Pico-Robertson area of Los Angeles. I took one step off the curb. A driver of an SUV ran the stop sign, made a hard left, and physically struck me, throwing me almost three houses down the block and left me gushing blood in the middle of the street. The paramedics didn't think I'd live. I've had a miraculous - but not magical - physical recovery:
There are so many details, but the only one that matters to me is: I lived.
I didn't realize how much I wanted to live. And now I do. I'm so grateful to have a second chance at life, and I need to make my life worthy of this second chance. I'm so grateful I can love my children, here on earth, everyday. While I believe God saved my life, I also believe God made this happen (and by the way, that doesn't make the driver less responsible). I've heard many times - from many sources from Oprah to great rabbis - that first God sends you a whisper. And then a little tug. And then... you get it. So what message wasn't I hearing that I needed to be smacked upside down by an SUV? Honestly, I don't know. But this has been a major life reboot.
While it's true that I never would have chosen this - and I would't wish getting physically hit by a car on anybody, a very unexpected thing has happened: I feel like a shell I didn't even know I had has been cracked open. I feel more like myself than I ever have.
So many blessings have come out of this - but here're two that I think you'll especially appreciate. First, I never felt so loved I'm my life. The outpouring of love and concern has been overwhelming. It rained soup for weeks. I couldn't chew for months, and people - close friends and people I hardly knew - just showed up with soup. And the tefillah/prayers - I know I'm alive on the wings of the prayers of hundreds of people - many I don't even know - and I'm eternally grateful. Thank you.
And second, I learned how to take care of myself. As women, especially, we rarely put ourselves first. I had no choice in learning this lesson. I had absolutely no physical ability or inner resources to do anything for anybody. I think I'd always been a good listener, but I couldn't even be that anymore. Sometimes when friends would be telling me something on the phone, suddenly it would feel like my head was going to explode. And abruptly, I'd say, "Sorry! gotta go." It was almost a year before I could say, "I think I can start being a friend again."
And there they were. In the electrical aisle of the 99 cent store. Hanging on the wall. It's true they are florescent. But that's not what captured my attention. It was a feeling. Kinda like that whisper I might have missed earlier. I just knew I had to buy them. All of them.
So that's how it started.
I remember the first time I walked into shul wearing one and everyone stared. It was kinda embarrassing - I don't really like standing out like that. But I definitely felt another one of those whispers. Just get over yourself and keep going... One step at a time.
Keep listening to that whisper.
I need you to know this: people thought I was ridiculous. And embarrassing. Seriously. Even friends who saw me near-death, still wouldn't wear any kind of reflective gear. I'd say, "How much closer to me being dead would you have had to see me, for you to get it???"
I started just passing them out on Shabbat, on Friday nights at shul.
At first, I mostly got a shake of the head or a "thanks but no thanks" answer.
At first I think many thought my increasing seriousness about safety - and my willingness to butt in and try to get people who were walking down the middle of the streets on Shabbat (especially in dark clothes) or just go up to random people anywhere, pull over in my car and inflict a safety vest, was a reaction to PTSD and this too would pass.
I think at first people just didn't get how dangerous our neighborhood has become.
I think many people thought - and still think - that if they were me somehow they would have gotten out of the way fast enough.
i think there's a cognitive dissonance - we don't want to believe we're vulnerable.