Today marks two years.

Two years ago, I was involved in a major car accident. It was life altering for me. The other driver hit our suburban head-on. She didn’t survive the crash. Her two grandchildren in the car with her that day left with a lifetime of emotional distress, my mom couldn’t walk at all and I was fine, at least on the surface.

My mom stayed in the hospital for two weeks before being transferred to a rehabilitation center for another month. Those first two months, I hardly saw her. I couldn’t bring myself to see what had happened to my mom, all because I wanted to move some furniture that day. I felt guilty, for taking her mobility and for taking the life of another person. It has taken me two years, lots of guilt and months of therapy to realize there was nothing I could have done differently that day. We were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even if I had persuaded her to help me that day, it still was an uncontrollable event.

In the past two years, I have suffered chronic knee, back and shoulder pain because of the impact. I have trouble concentrating and remembering due to a concussion from hitting the steering wheel. I have anxiety anytime another car gets too close or traffic suddenly stops.


It’s been two years, but I still have problems.

I spent today spending money. I went to my classes, sat through a CEO presentation for my internship, and then decided to stop by the mall. I received a settlement check from that accident just a few days ago. I have so far used it to pay off my college credit cards, a few remaining doctor’s bills and tuition fees from this semester at school. Today, I spent some on me. I bought a new iPad, went to the eye doctor for eye glasses and bought new makeup.  Things I wanted and things I really needed. I really debated the iPad at first, but I love it (I’m actually typing on it now!). It will be great for the rest of the semester, for work notes and for my travels. I’m happy with my decision.

But I do feel guilty. I think I kept wandering the mall today because I was both excited and sad. I was celebrating another year of recovery while doing my best to keep from crying over a lost life and a rough two years.

Walking around the mall with my mom tonight (who has to have surgery on her knee tomorrow, actually) was a perfect way to spend this “crashiversary”. I was spending time with the woman I was scared to death of losing – first to an accident and then to me pushing her away.

I can’t explain how I feel about everything, especially everything involving that accident. After it happened, I completely shut down. I shut everyone out and became so dispassionate about everything.  It had taken me two years to break through and finally see the happy-go-lucky, carefree girl I used to be shining through again. I’ve missed her, the person I was before that joy stealing day.

Looking back, I can’t help but be a little bit thankful. Thankful to a God who saves and heals and teaches. Thankful for the ability to walk and run and dance. Thankful to amazing friends and family who never gave up on me, even when i was so close to giving up on myself.

I value life so differently now. I look at it from a completely different perspective and I know what it is like to be truly blessed. Life is to be lived and loved and enjoyed. Always remember that.




My name is Anna Schiele, and last October I was involved in an
accident caused by a driver who had been drinking. The man stopped in
the middle of the intersection, and another car swerved over the
double yellow line to avoid hitting him, only to lose control in the
lane my mother and I were driving in. This accident took the life of
that woman, while causing mental, physical and emotional damage to my
mom, myself and the two children who were in the car with their
grandmother that day.

After nearly ten months of hurting and healing, there still is not a
day that goes by that leaves me unaffected by that accident in one way
or another.

-An excerpt from an email written to MADD
July 22, 2011

A year ago today, I experienced what would be one of the most life changing events I ever hope to encounter. It is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

But through the hardship and the pain, that accident has helped to mold me into the person I am today. It had taught me more about myself than I ever wished to know. It has shown me the value of a person, the true worth of a good friend and who really stands by your side when your world is falling down around you.

It has taken twelve months, physical therapy and personal counseling to heal just the surface effects from that terrible accident. There are still times at the end of the day when my knees pulsate with pain and I just sit down and cry. There are moments when a car comes just a tad too close to the yellow line and my chest tightens. There are some words that I can’t utter, or times when I just can’t focus. There are time when I’m driving and I picture “what-if” scenerios when are car is coming from the other way. I can’t help it. It’s terrifying, but I’m overcoming it.

This year has been the biggest trial of my life. Not just for me, but for my family as well. My mom is such a symbol of strength. She is one of the most determined, positive people I know and I hope to be half of the person she is one some day. Her determination to walk away from that wheelchair when she so quickly could have chosen not to is such an inspiration, and I love her more everyday for the role model that she is to so many people.

Before the accident, I was working out at the gym or running nearly everyday. Being unable to do so and falling into a state of depression was one of the biggest breaking points last winter. I set out to get back into the happy-go-lucky person I was, full of life and strength and energy. It’s been a challenge. I can’t yet run an entire 5K, but I can run. I can get up and walk every single day and that’s more than some people are able to do.

I’m remembering to be thankful for the place that I am at in life, for the places I have been and for the places I am going. It hasn’t been easy, and it won’t be. But it really is a beautiful life.