It’s been two years this weekend since Husband and a friend were on his motorcycle when they were schmucked by a drunk asshole. I say schmucked because said drunk asshole was going about 45mph and didn’t slow down. At all. He pinned Husband’s leg between the truck and the bike, breaking his pelvis in two places, dislocating his hip, breaking his foot, and finally flinging him across the overpass. There were other injuries, and some scars he’ll bear forever. However, Husband is definitely mending, although the extent of some of the internal injuries mean he still has pain all the time: nerve damage sucks, people. It sucks.
Two years ago on Friday I was sitting in the waiting room at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, going in and out of the ICU, hoping Husband could wake up eventually. I didn’t know for sure until that Monday that he would. Two years ago 8/29 (since the dates and days don’t match) I found myself in the ER at Regions at 10:30pm. To our friends in the ER with me, the doctors, nurses and EMTs (especially one in particular who knows us personally but said nothing so he didn’t get removed from working on Husband), I can only say thank you. And that I sincerely hope the surgical resident who talked to me about the exploratory surgery necessary that night at 2am now looks his age, because it’s goddamned disturbing to have a 12 year old telling you “we don’t know where he’s bleeding internally, but he’s on his fifth bag of blood and we have to find the problem or he could die.” Please dude, grow a goatee or something. Also, FYI, husband did not become a vampire. I just felt I should clarify…
As I understand it, our friend on the bike with him is also doing well, but her recovery is her own story to share or not…I just wish her the best in recovering and in dealing with the insurance company.
It’s a funny thing, an intense accident. Not funny in a belly-laugh sort of way…funny in a life is fucked up and weird sort of way. Let me lay some background before I explain.
Humans, including Husband and I, get into ruts. Patterns of behavior, patterns of thinking, patterns of living and socializing, without really even thinking about it. I suppose the patterns happen BECAUSE we aren’t thinking about it: when there is no examination of what’s going in in our lives, we just sort of float through and act on habit instead of intent. Habitual behavior isn’t a bad thing by nature: you can cultivate just as many good habits (eating healthy, exercising daily, etc.) as bad. Change is always hard, whether you’re creating good or bad habits, and more often than not people (including me) are more comfortable sticking with the devil they know than going through the pain and work of change.
Unfortunately, we’d both been in an unhappy rut for quite some time when the accident happened. There were so many reasons for the unhappiness, so many reasons for the horrible habits we’d both developed that it’s difficult to even say when they started. But we’d both been generally stuck in these bad patterns for years. The accident was a catalyst, as major life-changing events usually are.
During Husband’s recovery time we both had a lot of time to assess our lives, what we wanted, and where we wanted to go. Honestly, the entire first year after the accident was such a blur of emotion and physical turmoil it seems accelerated in my mind. There are months of 2012 and 2013 I don’t remember clearly, and there are moments of memory etched in permanent, painful detail. It’s been a very long two years, but there has been healing in every way possible.
Ultimately, his accident saved us both, as sick as that sounds. Waking up from a sleepy life and paying attention is hard. “Hard” isn’t a sufficient description…hmm. Miserable, exhausting, enlightening, humbling, terrifying, thrilling, astonishing…all better descriptors but only if they’re all together. It’s harder when it’s forced upon you. But once it begins, attention is difficult to stop, and contentment with the devil I know isn’t possible anymore.
So, changes have been under way. Some are subtle: we’ve both been making individual efforts to work on accepting ourselves, on figuring out and actually working toward our on life goals. For me, that means a lot of meditation, writing, and slowly changing my diet/exercise to be a healthier person as well as a lot of internal work on identifying and…well…fixing the way I talk to myself.
Some are…less subtle. Ha. We moved from Minnesota to Texas, got new jobs…it’s a whole new thing here and it’s both terrifying and exhilarating. I miss my people all the time. I don’t miss the state, and I suspect this winter I won’t miss the snow much. We’ll see. Currently out my window it’s changed from 93 degrees and sunny to torrential downpour rain (the sort we only got rarely in MN happens here often…I call it Trinidad rain: feels like someone’s dumping a bucket of warm water on you). It’s lovely here, and I’m flabbergasted that I (VERY unexpectedly) like Houston. Funny how preconceptions you have about something are so often utterly wrong. I like it here, and I feel healthier than I have in a long while: a physical change of scenery was something I needed.
But I still miss my friends and family, particularly those who became so very close to me in the past two years. Interestingly, the accident wasn’t just a catalyst for changes in ourselves and our marriage: it was a big catalyst for our social circle (individually and as a couple). I’m not always good at identifying actual friends from those who need something from me but don’t wish to be needed or people who are just flat out selfishly harmful. During those months in the end of 2012, we both discovered truths about people in our various circles and surprising things happened. Some acquaintances became very close friends, old friendships were rekindled, some close friends drifted away, toxic people were cut out of our lives because it’s too damn much energy to accommodate them anymore.
To those of you who have been with us (for him, me, or both) on this ridiculously weird, intense, painful journey: we hope you know just how much we love you. I’m so utterly grateful for everyone in our lives, and I have some regrets about those I didn’t get to know better before we left. Things are better, and even with challenges we’re both definitely on a better path, individually and together.
I’m happier paying attention.