‘I Just Want to Wake Up and Not Hurt Tomorrow’

One man who lost so much in a fatal crash is trying to get on with his life.

At this stage of his recovery Mike Martin says he can confront almost anything but the TV shows his children might have watched, he says.

“I have come to accept the stares and whispers I attract in restaurants,” he said. “The remaking of my life still has its traps.”

On Sept. 20, 2004, an 18-wheeler crossed a North Texas highway median and killed Martin’s wife, three sons, and mother-in-law.

Since then, he has tried to piece his life together by willing himself through each day with the language of emotional combat, said writer Doug Swanson.

“You have to be a victor, not a victim,” he said in a recent interview, sipping a Coke at his kitchen table. “But no cartoons. If you want to see me completely lose my mind, put me in a room and make me watch cartoons.”

And no asking why his loved one had to be in that terrible spot at that deadly instant, states writer Gregg Jones.

A dropped toy would have saved them, according to reports.

“I cannot let my mind go to those places,” said Martin.

Martin, 38, lives alone now in the Collin County town of Prosper, TX, according to records.

He said he sleeps in front of the television at home.

A building contractor, he is remodeling the house where he lives.

When there’s no one around, the television stays on he says because he can’t stand the silence.

On the day of the crash, Martin was working on another house, this one intended to be his family’s home.

His wife Lisa, 32, drove their 2000 blue Ford Expedition, according to a police report.

Just before 4:30 p.m., a northbound truck driven by Miroslaw Jozwiak crossed the median on U.S. Highway 75, records show.

Martin felt no initial apprehension when his family did not arrive home on time.

But later that evening he said, “Something came over me.”

He reached the site to see his wife’s car on its side, a charred hulk in the bright white of the emergency lights.

For several hours, Martin said, he maintained his composure, talking to police and relatives.

“I lay down on the bed and it broke,” he said, referring to his pent-up emotions.

But he awoke the next morning, he said, with a purpose: to keep going.

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