Yes, I am still here, alive and well and recovering from pretty major surgery deep into the back of my right leg.
I basically can’t do much of anything for several weeks. Even getting out of bed is somewhat of a project, and going to the bathroom (I have a padded toilet seat cover).
The sensations are varied: burning, sharp zaps, deep aching, shaky and trembling.
I watch this body, feel this body.
One moment I need to drink some water, I reach over and get my little blue glass with a straw and sip. I have the slight feeling to eat, I ask my son or husband to bring me apple slices with almond butter.
I hear the motor of a seaplane flying overhead. I hear the hum of the house heater blowing warm air into the living room.
I hear wind chimes singing uproariously from outside on the front porch, it must be windy.
In the past, when I’ve been sick or had an accident like this one…..my nervous ninny has come out like wildfire.
Seeing other peoples’ accidents has been almost worse!
Long ago, before I ever had my children (my oldest is 19) I was on a road trip with my former husband.
We were touring the entire country for three months, including parts of Canada way up in Nova Scotia.
We were towards the end of our mighty long journey. Only 2 more days back to Seattle and our little apartment that had been sublet for the summer.
With windows rolled down and August air rushing through the late afternoon light, we were driving through the wild yellow grasses and farm lands of California, traveling from east to west. The road was a beautiful gray color against the wheat fields. We were on a small, two-lane highway.
Rounding a corner, we saw something odd looking. One of those moments where it takes a half-second to register.
A ford pick-up truck was up on its side, wheels still creaking, several yards from the side of the road. Nothing else was around.
We stopped our car.
Silence, and wind.
There was movement off to the left, away from the truck. A small child of about 6 years old laying on the ground unconscious, then stirring.
I went to the truck, my husband went to the child.
Inside against the ground, not the steering wheel side (that part was up in the air) was a small woman. She was crumpled against the door of the truck.
I’m not a first aid person, but I knew to touch her neck to see if she was alive. She was. She had a ton of blood on her head and her legs looked broken.
Another car pulled up along the road and someone jumped out to help. A man’s voice was saying “get away from the truck”. I helped pull the woman from the car and move her. She woke up and started talking with slurred words.
She was lying on her back with legs stretched out, and someone had gone to call 911. We all didn’t have cell phones 25 years ago.
I stayed right by her, holding her hand, as she said non-sensical words and talked about getting a DUI and how she really couldn’t get another one.
“Where’s my son”, she said. Someone brought a blanket for her, and another one for her son, who was now sitting up.
Then helicopters came after awhile, and the mother and son were loaded in and taken off.
All the while during the crisis I felt incredibly calm, clear, and lazer-focused on stopping the woman’s head from bleeding, being with her.
But afterwards….that’s when I could have used The Work. Oh boy.
I couldn’t sleep for 2 days. I tossed and turned and saw the gash in her forehead, the blood, the truck, the frightened boy, her askew legs, over and over again.
My whole body was full of adrenaline. Like, AFTER the whole thing was over.
Jeez! I just wanted it to turn off!
But going into the images that are most frightening, shocking, difficult or terrifying and looking at them, I didn’t realize at the time, was probably the quickest way to remember my own sense of peace.
I shouldn’t think these terrible thoughts, I hate seeing that horrible situation, I don’t want to be a part of this violent scene, I never want to be in the middle of a car accident again (even if I’m completely unharmed).
Is it true?
Are you kidding me, of COURSE it’s true!! It was pure torture!!
Can I absolutely know that it’s true? Pure torture? All horrible? Violent only, zero peace?
How do I react when I believe the thought that it was awful, that I can’t handle these images, that I need to stop thinking about this, that it was sooo unfortunate that I had to witness that event?
I replay the scene endlessly. I wonder why the woman was drinking in the late afternoon, where she lives, what will become of the boy. I have to know it turned out OK (whatever that is, exactly?)
I’m afraid of the universe, I believe the world is a dangerous place, with things like this happening in it.
But who would I be without the thought that the accident, the scene, the situation, the destruction….were all pure horror?
I’m not even sure how to answer that question….and yet….I see how without denying that any of it happened, there was also kindness, love, sincerity, quiet, and peace present.
Right there, on the side of the highway.
Without the thought that I should stop thinking about it, and it’s so so so terrible…
….I look back at myself so many years ago and realize that while I didn’t sleep for 2 nights hardly at all, I then DID sleep.
Time rolled on. I breathed deeply.
And I got to have very meaningful conversations about life and death with one of my sisters (where we were due that night, in California) and with my former husband.
I find the turnarounds, even though that situation was from so long ago:
Perfect order, perfect intelligence…even in injuries, accidents.
Can you find how this could be true?
Much love, Grace