Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
When she was 12 years old, Morgan Johnson’s “one safe person” was her mom.
In one instance, in one second, all that changed.
“It was a huge impact on the way I live normally,” said Johnson, now aged 17.
“It’s hard to be comfortable when I am driving now.”
“It’s like a burden.”
Her mother, Mandi, suffered a seizure while she was driving Morgan and other family members from Rantoul to Urbana.
“I was sitting next to my aunt while my mother was driving, and the last thing she said was ‘oh shit I’m going 70!’ and next thing I know we are going down the median and we hit two road signs and a telephone pole.”
Since her experience, Johnson has looked at her mother differently from that point onwards. This changed her life completely from that day. Johnson gained a lot more responsibilities, but more important, Johnson’s mother was different person to her now.
Johnson found it difficult to talk to her mother for a couple of months, because of how she viewed her mother now, her “safe person” was not as safe anymore. For Johnson, her responsibilities only increased and her pressures were only getting worse during this time period.
Furthermore, this incident was a turning point in the life of Johnson; this incident changed her experience towards driving for the rest of her life. Johnson now is a driver committed towards safety, and following the rules.
Even though the accident happened 5 years ago, Johnson still is apprehensive towards driving, and her trust towards drivers does not come quickly.
After the accident, which impacted her life to that extent, Johnson feels even closer to her family. Even though she looked at her mother slightly differently from that point onward, her mother will always be her mother.
Now in the aftermath of the incident, Johnson is more aware regarding her mother’s health condition, because “recently my mom had a seizure while I was driving.”
Johnson said, “It’s really hard for me to drive because I want to listen and watch my mother at all times and look for the signs.”
Looking back at the incident, Johnson realizes the severity of its potential reality, and how she could’ve lost her family, the people she cares about the most in this world.
For Johnson, driving is an experience now that is not only something that she is cautious towards, but it is also an experience that reminds Johnson of how close she was to losing her most beloved family members in a car accident.
“I have really bad anxiety now.”
For Johnson, this was a truly life-changing experience that affected her life in more ways than one.