Penny with a hole in it
Most of what Miller recalls from the crash that took her legs is what people have told her. But vaguely, she recounts a single plea made to her rescuer.
After an evening of celebrating her accomplishments, Miller and three friends ate at an IHOP in the D.C. area then departed for home. On the way, a drunk driver traveling 80 mph rear-ended Miller’s vehicle, sending it into a pole. The drunk driver fled the scene. The driver of Miller’s car died on impact.
Miller woke up to see the night sky above her, the top of the car having been cut off. Still trapped on the passenger side, she couldn’t move.
“I felt like something was squishing me,” Miller said. “I couldn’t breathe. It felt like it was getting dire to me. I said, ‘I don’t care what you need to do, if you need to cut my legs off, whatever. I’ll forgive you. Just get me out.’
“Little did I know he would actually do it.’”
Lanauze, then a detective with the third district of the D.C. Police Department, woke up in the middle of the night to phone messages from the hospital. Confused and panicked, she called Kari, but got no response.
Finally, a co-worker called Lanauze, informing her that her daughter had been killed in a crash. She sped off to the hospital. Everything about that night is a blur, Lanauze concedes. But she vividly recalls the sense of relief she felt when she arrived to learn the truth.
“I get to the hospital and she didn’t die,” Lanauze said. “So from that point on, it was gravy.”
Miller was back at work less than two months after the accident, but recovery was an ongoing task.
Because one leg was amputated below the knee and the other above it, learning to use prosthetics was more difficult. When Miller started to walk, she often would fall.
Usually happy-go-lucky, Miller put on a brave face for the people around her. But when she was alone in the days following the crash, Miller couldn’t escape the sadness. She turned to her mother for strength.
“[She told me,] ‘You need to go through all that you feel,’” Miller said. “‘If you need to be sad, be sad. If you need to be angry, be angry. If you need to cry, cry.”
So one day Miller, who lived alone in an apartment, shut off her phone. She turned on the radio and listened to Dionne Farris sing about being hopeless, like a penny with a hole in it.
And she cried. She cried for the high heels she’d never again wear; her own legs, on which she’d never again walk.View Entire Story
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