So Sunday night after Barberville and then a bonfire, I was driving home from the Browers on 17-92, sipping coffee, thankful for the wonderful day....and I missed my turn going east. "No problem" I thought, since I knew I could take another road going east in just a little bit....well that turn came up and I was three lanes away in traffic...."Ok, a little bit of a problem now..." I said to myself, but then I knew if I went straight south that I would hit SR46 at some point, so I kept driving. After all, I know lots of friends that drive 17-92 to Barberville all the time.
I inherited my Dad's sense of direction, I knew I was driving parallel to I-95, it was dark, I was tired, and honestly, a little stop and go traffic sounded a whole lot safer than zooming down I-95, and before that...taking some road that I wasn't sure would take me there. So I sipped my coffee, listened to NPR, and kept driving in the dark. It was a nice drive, it just took longer.
So eventually I hit Sanford, and then SR46 (the road home). And then I prepared myself for a long, boring drive home on 46. Well....it was mostly boring... until I hit the deer. Then it got insanely not boring for awhile.
I had called my parents on my cell phone, (I had it on speaker, don't worry), and was excitedly telling them about Gabe's proposal to Abi and how the day was, etc. If y'all don't know SR46, it is a 2lane road through wetlands and country. Once you get on it, there is no way to get off it, not the stretch I was on, anyway.
So I was chattering away, traffic was light, and all of a sudden, a full size doe runs in front of my car. Now keep in mind that I was going 62 in a 55mph zone, and slamming on my brakes would have done nothing. That deer was literally in front of my car for a full 2 seconds. It is God's providential hand that somehow froze my car and slowed it down to keep from hitting it right away.
I gasped out, "OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH, I HAVE TO GO, MOM, I HAVE TO GO!!", and slapped shut my cell phone. My only thought was to not have any noise or distraction just then...I swerved slightly left and slightly right, trying any way I could to hit as little as possible, but having no time at all to do anything but react to the situation. My cell phone had not shut off, and Mom was asking what was going on, so I yell "I hit a deer! I have to go!" and just hung up.
I could see every detail of that deer, as it loped in front of my car. From left to right, and just as I thought I'd avoided it, I clipped the back end of it with my right bumper. THUD. I cringed, expecting the car to swerve or something to break and cause a crash....nothing did. I shut off the AC, the quiet music, and listened to my car as I drove to make sure nothing was wrong with the engine, the car, etc...nothing was dragging or cutting. And I heard the beautiful sound of silence.
I took a very deep breath, and then another, and then another, and I thanked God from the very depths of my heart for His loving protection over me. My mind was screaming along at a rapid pace, and I drove along through the night, going back through what just happened and how I reacted, and trying to calm down my heart. :) And then I called my Mom back, and the first thing she says is "Dad says don't go near the deer!", and I say "Thanks, Dad" in a sarcastic tone, because I assumed he was joking. You know, as if "You aren't supposed to hit the deer, you are just supposed to look at them, etc...", but as silence fell on the other end, I realized he meant "Don't go up to the injured deer and touch it..." (which I already knew since I was a kid....everyone knows don't get close to injured animals), to which I replied with a laugh "Mom, no. I'm still driving. My car is okay. I didn't stop.". And then I told them the story, told them I loved them, and hung up the phone. And thanked God all the way home, all the rest of the night, all yesterday, all today, all tonight....
When I got to Miss Judy's to pick up Lucy Mae, I examined my bumper in the house floodlights...the parking light on the right side was shattered, along with the bulb. I was amazed there was so little damage. It is amazing how I always thought I would feel badly hitting something, but I don't. When it comes down to life and death and it is you or the deer; I'm so glad I'm alive. Hitting a deer can be fatal.
To put it into perspective, I've pulled up some points about how it could have gone very wrong, very quickly:
1. There was no one in the other lane at the time, or close behind me or in front of me. If someone in the other lane would have hit the deer, that car would likely have hit me, and we'd both be in bad shape, or vice versa if I had hit it, and then hit another car.
2. The deer crossed the road from left to right. If it had run from right to left, I would have hit it full on, with no reaction time.
3. SR46 is a 2 lane highway, with 6 foot ditches on the sides and woods. There is no pull off shoulder or anything. If I had hit the deer full on, I either would have gone into another car, or into a ditch.
(oh and those ditches are filled with water and are really really hard for anyone to rescue you out of)
4. If I had needed help, an ambulance would have been at least 20 minutes or more away from where I was at that time.
5. I was thankful I was driving my car and not my Mom's SUV. My car has a low bumper (it's a lower car, more sporty), and even though I hit the deer hard, I hit it low. If I had hit it with my Mom's higher grail, I would have gotten the full body impact.
6. Even with my low bumper, I'm so thankful I didn't hit it when it was centered in front of my car, if I had, it could have flipped up onto my windshield, and I would probably be in the hospital, or heaven, depending.
7. I'm grateful nothing was damaged that prevented me from getting home. Having to stop on 46 (remember, no shoulders and only ditches) and needing to call help would have been awful and long.
8. Last but not least, apparently when you hit a deer, our insurance pays for all the damages!
(I mean, all of my car's damages, not the deer's. Sorry, deer.)
When I got home, I realized there were scratches on the bumper and blood (of course) and the shattered light, but all else was sound, and after a hit like that, I was just so thankful the car was fine and I was home.
It was a scary thing, but God kept me so calm (like he has in every accident I've ever been in), and so at peace. I felt so incredibly loved and cared for and protected that night. What a kind Heavenly Father we have. I certainly do not realize enough or appreciate enough how much God is protecting me until I am in a dangerous situation, and realize how much He gives me grace.
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place,
no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone."
~ Psalm 91: 1-2, 9-12 ~
It could have been so, so, so much worse that night, and I'm SO thankful to the Lord that it wasn't.
God is so overwhelmingly kind, and I knew it full well that night.
With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~
P.S. Barberville Jamboree photos will be up sometime next week! YAY!