I've been harboring some bitter, angry feelings for a few years now. In August of 2003, I was on my way home from work and my car broke down (needed a jump start) stranding me on the shoulder of Interstate 75 in Tampa, Florida. I was working nightshift at AOL at the time (and had just started on the broadband project that day), and left work at 1am in the morning, so getting stranded on the interstate was not only aggrivating, it was particularily frightening. Fortunately, the Florida Highway Patrol was more than happy to send one of their troopers to assist me. Problem was that it would take an hour for him to get to me. So I did what I could to pass the time, and wait it out. Since it was so late at night, I didn't want to bother any of my family members (and it would take them the same time to get to me as well). I wanted to stand on my own two feet, be independant, and so I waited.
A little bit after 2am, he arrived on the scene to ask what was going on and how he could help. I explained that the car's electrical system was on the fritz and that I'd need a jumpstart so I could get the car home and figure out how I was going to fix it from there. He pulled his car around so we could jumpstart my car (94 Saturn SC2), and we began the process as I sat in the car waiting for what needed to be done. Unfortunately, on the Saturns, and well most modern cars, the battery was covered and he couldn't find it under the hood. He called me out to help him find it. I managed to find the battery, we hooked up the cables, and started the process of jumpstarting my car. While he was hooking up the cables, he asked me to keep an eye out for oncoming traffic.
I stood by the driver's door on my car so I could look out for traffic and start the car when he asked me to. I saw a set of headlights coming in our direction, the car seeming to straddle that line between the shoulder and the lane. I started running, screamed, the cop ran, and bam. The next thing I knew, I was on the passenger side of my car crawling to the passenger seat. I was in terrible pain, my legs hurt like hell. I managed to get into the passenger seat of my car with the help of the trooper. The car that had seemingly vanished. I couldn't see it. The trooper did basic vitals and stated that he was a paramedic as well as a cop and that he could stay with me or go after the woman who hit my car. I stated that I wasn't going anywhere but the person who hit me was. He stated that backup was on its way.
In the emergency room, the trooper informed me that I had been caught between the braces on the front of the cruiser and my car. Over the following weeks, I found out that from the accident, I was fortunate in no broken bones, but unfortunate with having post traumatic arthritis. Three weeks later, it turned out that I'd hit my head on the hood of my car and nobody thought to check that out. I had a grand mal seizure (they happen from time to time - stress related and currently under control via medication and lifestyle adjustments.
I finally got the information on the woman who hit me (thanks to Hillsborough county's online inquiries system). Her BAC was .281, and there were numerous felony and misdemeanor charges. It wasn't until November of 2003 that the case finally went to court. During one of the hearings, I caught her laughing at my limp (it was noticeable then) She accepted a plea bargain of two years house arrest with three years probation after that. In January 2004, she'd broken house arrest twice, and as of March 2004, she was a fugitive.
In February of 2005, she wass finally caught and brought into the custody of the state of Florida, where she will remain until sometime in 2007. Today, I received a Christmas card from her. She wrote a good amount in the card apologizing profusely, and explaining that she prays for me on a daily basis, wishing me well. I honestly don't know what to say, what to do. I've spent the last three years trying to cope with this situation, trying to handle things, despite the daily reminders (seizures, arthritis pain). I moved to Pennsylvania for a multitude of reasons, one of them being that it would be a nice change of scenery and that I wouldn't have any triggers for the flashbacks.
I want to wish her well, I want to let this go, but I thought I had, and now I have a lot of thinking to do. I used to think that this woman had ruined my life, but in some respects, the events of that night pointed me in a direction I needed to go, pointed out that I am indeed mortal, and that, well, it's not a good idea to drink and drive. I also want to be bitter, want to be angry and hateful, but that's too much energy to expend on someone who just got piss drunk and drove instead of calling a cab. I'm confused, and just don't know anymore.
It's a long long story, and I would like to apologize for the length of this post.