(Truly, I cannot believe it’s been Twenty Years!)
There are things that are good to remember; things bad to remember; and things important to remember.
The crummy part of all this is sometimes my brain is not too good at discerning which is which, or what goes with what.
My character (being flawed and neurotic as it is) has a tendency to default to the bad.
A shrink, I’m certain, would say it’s all about low self esteem, negative messages from childhood, etc. The reasons don’t matter.
Twenty years ago, today was the accident in which our daughter Molly was killed.
I was driving – this makes me ultimately responsible, as I was The Dad. The Protector. The fact the other driver ran the red light while speeding is of no consequence.
I carry a sidearm. I’ve done so for 41 years. Long before I even met Molly’s mother, I chose to do whatever I could to protect myself and my family and friends. It’s a roll I haven’t taken lightly.
And I took my assignment as Protector even more seriously when I became a father. It’s what father’s are supposed to do!
We were making a left turn from 44th Street, East onto Thomas Road. A little after 1 PM. Going to Monkey Wards after an earlier visit to Famous Footwear @ 20th St. and Camelback. Saturday’s with 12 year old daughters meant shopping! The signal didn’t have a left turn arrow back then. It was just like in the movies – in the midst of completing the turn, I sensed something was wrong. Based on the estimated speed of the other car, we were pushed across the intersection in about one-tenth of a second.
And many lives changed forever.
I’ve no memory regarding what happened next. Nothing to recall on the witness stand months later. I was told I regained consciousness enough to give my estranged wife’s phone number to the ambulance guy, when I was asked if there was anyone he could call.
I had early drugged hospital memories of being on board a ship(!) Not enough consciousness to ask why I was on a ship. Turned out, with one (now re-inflated) collapsed lung and the other half filled with fluid, County Hospital had me on a pneumatic bed which kept hissing and rolling, to keep fluids from settling in my damaged lungs. Ribs pushed into a lung. Broken collar bone. Broken arm. Tube up the nose, and IV morphine/ativan drip.
My sister, wife and friends were there, being supportive and keeping loving watch as much as they could. Not wanting to answer the obvious question: Where was Molly?
In my few awake moments, I remember asking about the funeral, desperately wanting to be well enough to attend.
My wife was told Sunday morning there had not been any brain activity, and had the courage to disconnect life support. Had our roles been reversed, I don’t think I would have had the bravery. I am forever grateful to her for this. A number of folks benefited from her decision.
The funeral was that following Tuesday. I was largely unconscious in ICU at County for another two weeks.
Ultimately, after being moved to Good Sam, being given Tylenol in lieu of the morphine/ativan drip (!) and weeks in the regular hospital and rehab, I was able to walk and breathe again.
I was deeply depressed and pretty much just counting the days.
Until I could pay my respects.
That came weeks later.
I’ll say it again, as long as I take breath – Tell your family and friends you love them, right now!
Because you may never get another chance.
AND be an organ donor.
I try to remember the good times. The IMPORTANT ONES. It’s what has kept me alive for the past twenty years.
My thanks to all of you, family and friends, for holding me up, until I could stand on my own.
(Commentary has been turned off – I know how you all feel. Thanks, again.)