MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- With all the messages, briefs and warnings, it didnt hit home until it happened to me. I had to be back at work Tuesday. I left Sunday a long 16-hour drive ahead of me. At midnight I stopped to sleep. I woke up at 6 a.m. Monday to finish the drive. A couple of hours along, I refueled and ate. Almost home only four more hours, I thought. Then it happened. In the blink of an eye, my day and life changed. I felt a thump when my tire hit the hole. It was slight, and normally would be brushed off. My car then veered into the grass. Rocks and dirt flew up around the tire and door. I pulled the wheel hard to the left to regain pavement. A car was coming directly at me. My foot slammed the brakes. My heart was beating faster and faster. I was shaking uncontrollably. This cant be happening, I thought. Again, I pulled the wheel, this time to the right. I came back into my lane, but went too far. The rear of my car started to spin. The next thing I felt was the impact of the mailbox. As the car started to flip, I gripped the wheel, lowered my head and closed my eyes. Please take me God I belong in heaven. Please watch after my mother. I woke shortly after the car stopped moving. I opened my eyes in shock and disbelief. There were no pearly gates, or bright lights I made it. As I sat in a ball, confused and afraid, I slowly reached over and pushed in the button holding the seatbelt. I then reached over and opened the door. It flung open, shifting the car. With slow and deliberate movements, I crawled out of the car, onto hard the ground. I sat with my head down, eyes closed and prayed. Thank you God, that I am alive. Thank you God Is anyone alive over there? Can anybody hear me?, I heard. I slowly stood, hunched over as two people came running through the trees. Is there anyone else who made it? With their dreadful questions, I stepped back and looked at the dirty black object lying half on its side. I stared in disbelief. Every angle of the car was crumbled. All but one window, including the sunroof, had burst out. Glass lay everywhere. Exterior lights hung by their wires, tree limbs and dirt covering the car. Paint was scraped off in chunks. I stepped back even farther to get the total view of what just happened. Then it hit me. The luggage from my trunk was strewn about the area. Pieces of clothing were hanging in nearby bushes. CDs, papers and food wrappers were scattered around the car. A tire lay about10 feet away. I looked in the car. Nothing remained. The dash was empty. I opened the console all was gone. Sunglasses, cell phone, pens, and change were all missing. Through confusion and sirens, the policeman on scene said, Thank God you had your seatbelt on. I started to cry. I cried not from pain or grief over my crumpled car, but from joy. I kept crying, harder and more irate. Although my prized possession and belongings were destroyed, He spared me. I picked up the things I could find, and let the truck tow away my mess. I walked away. The seatbelt. With everything that flew from the car, and the smashed out windows, I shudder to think what may have happened to me. Through all experiences Ive had, I focus on the outcome and what could have changed it. There is nothing I could have done differently to alter my tragedy. However, there are two things that could have made it considerably worse The importance of a seatbelt goes without saying it should be evident through this story. My full-coverage insurance paid off the $18,000 totaled vehicle. Had I carried liability insurance only, I would be a 21-year-old with an $18,000 debt. I, too, am a young, anxious Marine who thinks she is invincible. I go to the same safety briefs before the same holidays, and hear the same statistics. However, Id hate to think something like this has to happen to each of you before you really listen. Everybody may not be fortunate enough to survive. Everyday now, when I climb into my new vehicle, I remember what my mother said to me through heartfelt tears, That could have been the last time I hugged my little girl.