The Crying Lady
When I was 18 my brother graduated from the Metropolitan District commission (now part of the Massachusetts State Police) Police Academy. The night before his graduation, I had been out partying and drinking with friends. Needless to say, on the morning of the graduation ceremony, which was held at The Hatch Shell in Boston and presided over by then governor Michael Dukakis, I had quite a hangover.
When it was concluded, I returned home to my parents’ house where I resided in Woburn, MA. We were having a barbecue (or cookout as we called it in New England) on the patio and pool yard to celebrate my brother becoming a police officer. I went upstairs to lie down for a while as I was still feeling like crap. Some time later my mother called up to me to come down and eat. I did so. Our house sat at the end of a street in Woburn and route I 95 (aka rte. 128) ran right by my bedroom window. The sounds of traffic would lull me to sleep at night. For many years after moving out of that house, I would miss that comforting sound of trucks rolling past and rattling my bedroom windows in the middle of the night. Sounds strange, I know but true.
I had just sat down and had a few bites of antipasto as an appetizer when we heard the screech of tires and brakes followed by an extremely loud crash on the highway, only 50 or so yards from us. My mother immediately sprang into action, jumping from her seat yelling “Jesus Christ!” in a panic. One of my other brothers said “Take it easy, it’s nobody we know…I hope! My mother ran into the kitchen to dial 911 as my brother and I proceeded quickly to the hole in the fence(adjacent to our side yard) next to the highway. I went through the hole in the chain link fence and headed up the embankment in my stocking feet. As I did so, my brother, (in bare feet, and not afforded the extra protection I had with socks) was yelling up to me…something? I couldn’t make out what it was through the rush and whoosh of highway traffic zipping by. Nor did I feel like I had time to worry about it at that moment. I imagined dripping fuel lines at the crash site about to ignite and burst into flames at any moment. But not before I would drag the helpless victims from the twisted wreck of the car just in the nick of time! Just like on t.v., right? Yeah,…not quite. I later learned that my brother was yelling “Don’t cross the highway, just yell across!”
I never heard him. As I got to the top of the ravine and entered the breakdown lane of the highway, I could see the car. It was on my side of the center divider, but smashed right up against the guardrail in the middle of the highway. I would have to run across 4 lanes of highway traffic to get to them. I immediately ran across all 4 lanes of traffic without hesitation and without incident. I approached the drivers’ side door of the large, blue, 8 cylinder “boat” as we used to call cars of that size back then. I noted that it was 2 teenage girls in the drivers’ and front passenger seats. The front end of the car was smashed up pretty good, the windshield cracked. The girl in the passenger seat was holding her nose. The driver was equally shaken. I noticed empty beer cans on the floor of the backseat. “You guys okay?” I asked. “Yeah” they both replied, the passenger with a bit of a moan. “Do you need an ambulance?” I continued. At which point they were both adamant, “No, no, no ambulance!” Said one. And “Just a tow truck!” said the other. Not likely at this point. The authorities would definitely have to be involved. And little did they know, my mother already had an ambulance en route. And little did I know, that in a few minutes, the ambulance would be taking me and not them.
I told the girls to stay put until help arrived and proceeded back across the highway. I made it through the first 3 lanes of traffic and as I crossed the 4th and final lane (which had a bend in the road about 50 yards away that was on the on ramp to the highway where traffic was partially obscured by trees in the bend) I was struck in the right shoulder by a car, where the windshield met the frame of the vehicle, that spun me around, slamming my left forearm into the side of the car. The vehicle continued on for a bit, as I thought he wouldn’t stop, but he did, pulling over into the breakdown lane. I too, made my way to the breakdown lane, holding my right shoulder. I thought to myself, “Wow, I just got hit by a car So, that’s what getting hit by a car feel like. Hmm, it’s not so bad. I’ll just walk this off.” It took a moment, albeit a short one, for the synapses to send their little electrical impulses to my brain, informing me that I’d been injured. When the pain hit me, it was so sharp and so severe, that although I’d never broken a bone prior to this day, I knew something was broken. Yes, something was definitely wrong. The driver of the car was walking towards me saying “Are you alright? Are you alright?” I could hardly answer. I simply said “No, please. Not now.” My brother had come up the embankment at this point and was standing beside me alongside the highway. “What happened?” He asked. “I got hit” I replied. “No, no you didn’t” was his wishful thinking response. “Yes, I did”, I argued, and “I think my shoulder’s broken.” “No it isn’t, come on.” He retorted. “It hurts really bad. Yeah, yeah, it’s definitely broken.” I said and “I think I gotta sit down.” “Okay, okay, buddy, then sit down.” He said and helped me to a sitting position on the ground. At which point I said “Bill, this really hurts. I gotta lay down.” And he replied “Okay, okay buddy, you can lay down. Just don’t fall asleep! Stay awake!” I guess, not knowing if I had hit my head or not this was good advice. But, as the pain was coming in such huge waves at this point, there was hardly anything more I wanted than to be unconscious at that moment. I could hear the wailing of a siren approaching as I lay back on the warm summer ground, praying to go unconscious. But sleep would not come as the paramedics evaluated me. One of them asked me where it hurt. I told them “my shoulder is broken” They asked if they could cut my shirt off and at first I said yes, that’s fine. I then quickly changed my answer to no, and then back to yes. I finally settled on no and they carefully peeled my shirt off to have a better look. The wave of pain that rippled through my body as they pulled my shirt off is indescribable. In hindsight, I would have said “cut the damn thing off!”
I felt myself going into shock as other cars had pulled over and several onlookers were standing around my prone body. I looked up to see one of the onlookers, a pretty, light chestnut haired woman. She stood directly at my feet as the paramedics took my vitals. She wore a summer dress that was yellow with flowers on it and extended past her knees slightly. The dress rippled and flowed and her long hair flew in the breeze of highway traffic that droned past. I noticed tears on her face, she was so pretty. I thought, she’s crying, this woman is crying for me! I thought I may have recognized her as someone from my past but couldn’t quite place her. And I heard her say “Is he going to be alright?” And my brother answered her “Yeah, he’ll be fine.” I knew it was my brother that had answered her as he was the only immediate member of my family in close proximity to me at that point, yet the voice was somehow different. Familiar, yet different than my brother Billy’s voice. It was the voice of my father, a Boston Fire Chief who had died 4 years earlier after a lengthy and futile fight with cancer.
As I slipped into shock, I remember thinking “They’re here.” But not in a poltergeist sort of way. It was more of a safe feeling, “They’re here. Everything’s going to be okay. I’m protected. I’m safe.” I don’t know how else to describe it. And I know how it sounds. But it was real. It happened.
My prognosis was a fractured right clavicle and a hairline fracture in my left forearm. I spent the night in the hospital for observation as I vomited in emergency triage, from the pain, I’m sure. But they were not sure if I had sustained a head injury. An interesting note; on the Monday morning following the incident, the local newspaper had a brief story, showing a photo of the accident. Beneath the photo, part of the caption read; the driver of the car, Andrew Thompson 18 of address deleted, was taken to Choate Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released, a hospital spokeswoman said. Funny how reporters and hospitals always seem to screw stories up!
It was many years later, very recently in fact, while retelling this story to my siblings that something quite interesting happened. Not only did my brother Billy deny the woman asking if I was going to be alright, he denied there being any onlookers standing around me on the side of the highway that day, let alone a pretty, crying lady in a flowing dress. He denied ever responding to the woman, because “There was no woman” he insisted. I could only insist there was. I know what I heard and I know what I saw. I could not believe he didn’t remember events as I recalled them. It was so clear. “You were in shock.” He told me. “I know.” I said, “but I wasn’t hallucinating.”
I now know how those people feel when they insist on what they saw when relating paranormal experiences. It’s really difficult to explain when it sounds so otherworldly. And it’s extremely difficult to convince people what you experienced as a true event and not the result of shock or hallucination.. So, I will not attempt to convince you or seek your approval. I simply submit this story for the record as events that occurred the way I perceived them at the time of the incident. And the way I still remember them.