A New Lease on Life | The Westboro Bus Crash

by - January 31, 2019

I don't even know how to start this post. I know why I'm writing it, and why I want to share what I went through, but I've been struggling for these past couple of weeks trying to figure out exactly how to get it out. This blog has been a passion project of mine for the past 6 years. A place I have been able to turn to when I need to express myself or pour my heart onto the keyboard. Writing has always been cathartic for me, and even more so now, so I guess the only way to start, is to start. Here we go. 

A little over two weeks ago I was in a bus crash. Not a small one that results in your commute being delayed an hour and having to switch to another bus, but the kind you think could only happen in a TV show. On Friday January 11th, I left work 10 minutes early and made a quick stop at the drugstore to pick up some face masks. A bit of a random buy, but I was on my way home to meet my best friends for a girls weekend, and I wanted to make sure we had enough supplies for our spa night. I hopped on my usual bus, route 269,  made my way to the top of the double decker and sat in my usual seat. I always sat close to the stairs because I like to be one of the first ones out the door. I put my headphones in and started listening to a podcast, eager to meet my friend at the park and ride and get our weekend started. Little did I know that not 20 minutes later my life, and the lives of over 90 people would change forever. 

I don't remember much about the moments leading up to the crash, my eyes were closed and I wasn't paying much attention to our surroundings. But I do remember hitting something, and then hearing screams. Every single moment after that however, is burned into my brain. I can remember every scream, every cry and every shaky voice. When I close my eyes I can see the faces of the people around me who were in shock and pain. I remember feeling trapped, and utterly helpless. My leg was crushed between my seat and the one in front of me, and I feared that I may lose it. My body would move involuntarily, but every time it did I'd end up hurting someone who was beside me, their leg trapped in front of my own. There were more than ten of us who were all trapped by chairs that had moved towards us in the crash. It was as if we were all sitting on on top of the other, every single one of us in pain. I grabbed my phone from my purse, thankful that even though it was smashed, it still worked. I tried both of my parents and couldn't get through to either of them. I wasn't worried at first about not surviving the crash, but in that moment not being able to get ahold of them I could only think the worst. I got so scared that I wouldn't be able to tell them that I loved them, and it was then that the severity of everything finally sunk in. Luckily I was able to get them on the phone and let them know what had happened and they told me that they were on their way. At that point the first responders had made it to us, and firefighters started working to try and rescue those of us who were stuck. I can still hear the sound of them trying to cut away at the metal frames, and them breaking glass to gain access to more passengers. If I close my eyes I can see some of their faces, all of them very brave and straight, but if you watched them long enough you could tell they knew it was bad. It took more than an hour for me to get out. By the end of it I was still in shock so the pain wasn't excruciating, but I was exhausted. All I wanted was to go to sleep. They eventually freed my leg, and pulled me over a chair and onto a backboard. More than 6 firefighters passed me through the bus, and down a ladder propped up against the front where the window used to be. As I was coming down I saw my parents through the corner of my eye and I lost it. All I wanted was my mom and dad, but the police and paramedics wouldn't let them come to me. I knew they were just doing their jobs but the last thing I wanted was to be alone in that ambulance. 

By the time we made it to the hospital, and I finally got to see my parents the shock had subsided and the emotions started flooding in. Everything I had been through, everything I had seen came to me at once. It was then I realized that my worst fear was a reality. This is the hardest thing for me to talk about, and though most of my memories of the crash may fade over time, this will never leave me. I asked my parents if anyone had died, and when they replied yes, I knew that the woman who ended up beside me was one of them. I had held her hand, tried to reassure her that help was on its way and that everything would be alright. I see her face all the time, and even though the rational part of me knows that I couldn't have done anything else to help her, part of me wishes that I would have done something. My heart is so broken for everyone that lost their lives that day, but her death in particular will remain with me forever. 

Physically I will heal. I ended up breaking my leg and needing surgery to fix it. I've now got a rod that runs from my knee to my ankle and two large nails keeping it in place. I cannot yet walk, and it will take some physiotherapy to get back to where I was. But eventually my leg should heal. Emotionally, that is a very different story. It will take much more than a few months of bed rest to make me feel even a little bit of normalcy. I've started seeing a psychologist, who I am hopeful will help me find ways to deal with my survivors guilt, the flashbacks and all of the feelings I have about what happened that day. My story, and what I went through isn't something I want to keep bottled up. I want to and need to be able to talk about it and writing it out and sharing it with you guys is exactly what I needed to do in order to start the healing process. 
I feel as if I was given another chance at life, and that may seem dramatic and cliche, but it only reconfirmed for me that we cannot take anything in this life for granted. Every day truly is a gift, and a chance to create memories with the people we love, in a life that we love. I am so incredibly blessed to have the best support system in my family and friends, without them there is no way I could get through any of this, and I will be forever grateful for that. 

Much Love Always, 
Spenser xx

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