It’s funny how one moment in life can change a person dramatically. One moment that everyone experiences in different forms. One moment that leads to events you never thought could happen to you. One moment of happiness, sadness, regret or even pain. One moment that slips through your fingers so fast - you never really have a chance to think about it.
I had never really known the feeling of pain until that moment. That moment – in which it all came down to a split second. That split second, in which my bone snapped. That split second, in which the driver took off. That split second, in which strangers were by my side. That split second, in which I was lying in the hospital bed. That split second, that changed my life forever.
It was a dark Monday night, and I was heading home from a long day at work. There was a light rain, and I could hear the tiny drops crying out as they hit the sidewalk. The air was cold enough to make somebody shiver and the sky was as dark as pitch. Around me, dark figures bundled up in their warm clothing ran for cover. I did not have an umbrella or a jacket so I tried to rush home, hoping I would not be too wet once I reached my destination. Little did I know that I would never reach it. That night, Clemens Center Parkway was quite busy. Of course, I was used to walking on the intersection – especially at night. Nothing seemed suspicious to me at that time, not even the car that I could hear speeding up in the distance. I assumed whoever was driving this car would stop – for the light he was crossing with was red. I mean, all of the other cars stopped. They were patiently waiting until their light turned green – or at least until I was safely on the other side of the sidewalk. And I was crossing with green, so I went ahead and started walking. The car that I heard in the distance was still speeding up – but I figured he would have to stop once he reached the red light that was waiting for him.
I had barely made it across to the half way point of the intersection when I see a bright light out of the corner of my left eye. I didn’t even get a chance to turn my head to see what this was when I was hit on impact by that car. I later learn that the driver of this car did not have a license, was speeding and had run a red light. One shoe flew off as I whirled some feet in the air, landed in the middle of the intersection, and smack my head on the wet and hard concrete. I lay in the middle of the street, dizzy, bloody, hurt and confused. My leg was screaming at me but I did not understand why until later. Inside of me, my body had already understood what happened. My heart beat so hard and fast, I think I recovered all of the blood that I lost in a matter of seconds. My brain was telling me to get up but the leg twisted underneath me had different ideas. All of this happened within a few seconds of the hit.
As I lay there, I see people park or just turn their car off in the middle of the street and rush to my side. I vaguely remember their faces or what they were saying but I do remember how one woman embraced me and held me until I received help. I felt so comfortable in her arms, and so safe as she whispered words that I could not understand. Others also surrounded me, but there was nobody that stood out to me the most than that woman. I often think about her and her kindness.
I went through a long process of recovery that affected me emotionally as well as mentally. I had surgery, one hip cast, then one knee cast, and finally a cam boot. I was in a wheelchair for a long time, and later upgraded to crutches. My time in the hospital was the worst. I felt helpless as I was forced to use a catheter, forced to let them clean me and prick me with a dozen needles a day, forced to take pill after pill and forced to go through the horrendous physical therapy. The pain was overwhelming. I begged the nurses for drugs to knock me out, screamed in agony every time my leg swelled through the cast, and nearly died when I fell. I wanted the pain to go away so bad. I wanted everything to go away. Even the people. I got so many visitors, cards, balloons and gifts during my time in the hospital that you would think I just died. I had never really known how many people cared until that time. It was at that time that I realized who my true friends were.
I went through a long phase of depression in which I questioned why life suddenly pushed me along another path. I thought that God wanted me to die. It took me a very long time to fully comprehend why it had happened to me. I questioned why God did not just kill me then, instead of making me go through all of this pain. I hated life and its misery and the things that happen in it. I didn’t want tomorrow to come. I felt so sorry for myself that I ended up being a displeasure to the people around me. Of course I realized this, but I did not care. I did not care that everyone around me was unhappy.
One night, a nurse was helping me change when the topic of how this had happened to me came up. I told her everything, detail to detail description. At the end of my story, I watched her face – hoping to see some sympathy or compassion. To my utter surprise, she didn’t show either.
“Isn’t that horrible?” I asked
“Yes it is.” she replied. She then started to say something else but stops.
She looked at me. “When I was seven and my brother was three, he was also hit by a driver who was speeding.”
I stared at her, wondering where this story was going.
She continued. “He died immediately. I remember seeing him on the street, blood pooling underneath him. And the worst part about it was that I watched all of this happen right in front of me. I couldn’t even do anything.”
Something inside of me stung. For a moment, I forgot about my own misery.
“What did your parents say? What did they do?” I asked her
She looked at me and forced a smile. Even from where I was, I could see her bottom lip quaver as she spoke and her eyes as they filled with water.
“Nothing. We were orphans. We were both living in a temporary home at that time. He was all I ever had.”
The blow of that statement shook me harder than the car. I was so shocked; I could not utter a single word. I layed there in silence as she finished up. I did not even tell her I was sorry. Now that I think about it, I wish I had. I often think about her also.
For the next couple of days, I analyzed my situation. What I came up with was the real wake up call. I realized that life is full of surprises and you cannot predict what will happen in the future or where life will take you. Sometimes life will bring changes that you are not accustomed to but those changes can be good or bad depending on how you look at them. I went through a lot of changes after my accident. Some of them were good and some of them were bad but I am grateful for the good ones. I used to get so angry, thinking about how if I never been in the accident it would have been different. Now I look at it like a blessing in disguise. I would have never met so many good people if it weren’t for the accident, nor would I probably ever have. I would have never been the person who I am today. I would have never stopped being so selfish. Now when life seems to be going wrong, I stop and think about all of the other people in the world who are going through such terrible things right now. I stop and take a moment to pray for them. I hope one day that these people can wake up every morning and see the sunshine. Just like me. So now, I embrace everyday with hope.