Be­fore-bed read

Af­ter Ashley Pre­vite was in­volved in a hor­rific car ac­ci­dent with her young daugh­ter, she couldn’t stop think­ing, Ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a rea­son. But she never imag­ined that her crash would ac­tu­ally end up sav­ing a life!

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On a blus­tery af­ter­noon in Fe­bru­ary, I de­cided to leave a few hours early to pick up my 3-year-old daugh­ter from her dad’s house. The trip was 45 min­utes each way, and I didn’t want to risk the weather get­ting any worse.

The roads were slick and the vis­i­bil­ity wasn’t great, but we were toasty in the car, lis­ten­ing to mu­sic and chat­ting about her week­end. When we reached the edge of our lit­tle vil­lage, I be­gan to feel a bit tired. We were only about six miles from home, though.

The next thing I re­mem­ber was the hor­rific sound of screech­ing metal and burst­ing glass. There was an explosion of screams and con­fu­sion. And the smell of burn­ing.

Be­fore I knew what was hap­pen­ing, I was be­ing yanked out of my seat belt. “Your child. You need to get her out. The car could catch on fire. Get her out now. You need to move now!” I was fum­bling with the han­dle in shock. When I fi­nally got the door open and saw my daugh­ter’s red face twisted up in ter­ror, I snapped into re­al­ity enough to get her out of her car seat and hold her close.

“I’m okay, Mommy, I’m okay,” she re­peated through sobs, her body tense and her knuck­les dig­ging into my sweat-soaked shirt.

We were ush­ered into a van, along with the woman and her 6-year-old son who had been in the ve­hi­cle we hit. I trem­bled un­con­trol­lably as we waited for an am­bu­lance. When the of­fi­cers and EMTs ar­rived, they flooded me with ques­tions—none of which I could an­swer. I didn’t know what had hap­pened. Did I fall asleep? I had been tired. Did I slip on black ice? The roads were slick. “I don’t know” seemed to be the only thing I could muster.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, the col­li­sion was so se­vere that no­body should have sur­vived, let alone walked away.

The EMTs ex­plained that the en­tire front pas­sen­ger side of my car was gone. Since my daugh­ter was in the back on that same side, she was clos­est to the point of im­pact, yet she was com­pletely un­harmed. She didn’t even have a scratch. On the other hand, I was pretty bruised, but opted to be driven home rather than go to the ER. We’d been through enough.

About a week later, ready to get back on the road, I sched­uled a rental car ser­vice to pick us up at home. I brought my daugh­ter’s car seat out into the sun­light to ex­am­ine it for cracks or any other signs of dam­age. I tipped it over, lifted the cush­ions and went over ev­ery inch. It looked fine, so I de­cided to con­tinue us­ing it un­til I could get a new one.

The rental car com­pany was late at this point, so I made a quick call re­mind­ing them about my pickup. I wan­dered down the drive­way a bit, and when the call ended, I headed back up to where my daugh­ter was stand­ing next to her car seat.

“The en­tire front pas­sen­ger side

of my car was gone. Since my daugh­ter was in the back on that same side, she was clos­est to the point of im­pact, yet she was

com­pletely un­harmed.”

She had some­thing clenched tightly in her fist. “What do you have?” I asked. She opened her palm, re­veal­ing a smooth, pol­ished stone. When I looked closer, I re­al­ized it had a large cross etched in black in the mid­dle of its sur­face.

“Where’d you get that?” I asked. She pointed her chubby, lit­tle tod­dler finger to the car seat and said, “Right there in my seat.”

I was per­plexed. I had just ex­am­ined this seat min­utes be­fore—surely I would have seen a stone that was larger than a golf ball. Why didn’t it fall out when I turned over the seat?

So again I asked, “Se­ri­ously, honey. Where’d you get that?”

And in her small voice, she ex­plained, “God gave it to me so I won’t ever be scared in the car.

And it will pro­tect us if we get in an­other ac­ci­dent.”

We hugged for a long time, gig­gling about how lucky we were to get a rock from God. We took it with us in the rental car that day. And when we got our new car, we made a spot for it right up front un­der the dash­board con­trols.

In the mean­time, I couldn’t stop think­ing about the fam­ily we’d hit. I found the woman’s name in my ac­ci­dent report pa­per­work and hunted down her ad­dress. I wrote her and her fam­ily a card, ex­press­ing my con­fu­sion over what had hap­pened, my grat­i­tude for their lives and my strong be­lief that our paths had crossed for a rea­son. I hes­i­tated be­fore toss­ing it into the mail­box, but sent it just the same.

A year later, while pe­rus­ing my Face­book news feed, I stum­bled on a story that caught my at­ten­tion. The ar­ti­cle was about a young woman who was di­ag­nosed with lung cancer af­ter a car ac­ci­dent sent her to the hospi­tal. The ar­ti­cle said that she was driv­ing her son home from his ski les­son at a nearby moun­tain and she de­cided to take a dif­fer­ent route than usual be­cause of the snow. Then her car was hit by a white SUV driv­ing straight at her in her lane.

I blinked back burn­ing tears as I re­al­ized that white SUV was my car. I gulped and con­tin­ued to read.

The boy had a con­cus­sion and a bro­ken arm, and the mother agreed to have a scan be­cause she felt some whiplash. What hap­pened next was a shock. The scan re­vealed that the woman, who had never smoked a day in her life, had a mass on her lung— stage IIIA lung cancer. She was only 40 years old and had no symp­toms. She would not have started treat­ment at that stage if it weren’t for the ac­ci­dent. She shared the card I had sent to her with the re­porters cov­er­ing the story, in­clud­ing this sec­tion:

I believe that ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a pur­pose. I’ve yet to find out why our paths had to lit­er­ally cross the way they did, but I am con­fi­dent that it will be made ob­vi­ous in time.

—Ashley Pre­vite

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