Amanda Blackman’s Dark Place
The truth of “seeing”
Nobody ever sees a car crash. You hear the impact. Or you see the source of it after turning to react to that sound.
So when I say I ‘witnessed’ a fatal car accident, I feel like a fraud. I didn’t see the head on collision that happened in front of my home. But somehow the accident affected me in a way I thought only possible when someone fully witnesses it.
It was a night out with friends. When we got home, my friend and I were chatting as I opened the window to get some fresh air. As I turned my back to the window, I heard the loudest sound I’ve ever heard.
Metal on metal. In the street, there are two cars, still sliding from the impact. The fronts are crushed in, and smoke is rising from both. Immediately, my friend and I run outside, her on the phone with 911.
We’re running to the intersection, and then, I hear one thing that will follow me to the grave. I hear cries for help coming from one of the cars. Screaming and screaming. I thought I knew what a terrified voice sounded like before, but boy was I wrong.
I don’t know how long we stood there, watching bodies being pulled out of metal. It could have been 30 minutes or three hours. We talked to police, as it was a fatal hit and run, and two minors were in the backseat of the abandoned car. It was their screams I heard.
But I didn’t see the crash. So why did I refuse to drive for weeks? Why did it give me a fear of driving that lasts to this day? Why was I experiencing the worst anxiety of my life, and why was my husband telling me, “Maybe you should talk to someone”? I didn’t see it, so I don’t deserve to feel like this.
But I have to tell myself, “Nobody sees it. They only hear it. And react.” That means that other people feel how I feel. My turning, running, and hearing impacted my view of life. Every morning when I look out of my bedroom window, I see the intersection and think of them and relive the fear. I’m still living it. And that’s enough to make the trauma I feel valid, even though I don’t think it should be.