The Accident (and Other Moments of Reflection pt. 1)

I stood at work, bored out my mind, much like every other night- aside from holiday weekends- at a ski resort in the summer time. The only saving grace I had being that I work with most of my best friends and we have a few regulars that come in and are a pleasure to talk to.

I cleaned the bathrooms. I windexed the windows. I did everything except wait on people.

The previous night, the owners of the restaurant and I had our hopes shattered when our one reservation of twelve just simply decided to not show up. We all went out and had too much to drink in order to drown out the fact that we made no money… so add to my boredom a slight hangover.

Mike, my just recently axed boyfriend, had been texting me all day. I was supposed to stay at his house to watch the dog so he could go to a huge party and not worry about driving. You know what I really didn’t want to do? Stay at his house.

I was tired, frustrated, bored, and for some reason, anxious. I paced behind the bar. I just wanted to go home- to my new home- and lay in bed and reload my Facebook newsfeed 174 times and curl up topless and maybe have a drink and then call my friend Sarah and joke around until I fell asleep.

I checked my Facebook. Boring. I checked my Twitter. Boring. I texted Sarah. She didn’t respond. Boring. I considered pouring myself a drink. But even that seemed boring.

At that very moment everything was just boring. The world was a boring dull place and it was making me anxious.

I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who once said that the world can only stay boring for so long (or I could totally be making that up). Eventually something will happen turning boredom into excitement, but that excitement may not be positive. It could be downright scary.

My phone began to ring on the bar top. I didn’t answer it because I didn’t recognize the number, and for all I knew it was someone calling me to accuse me of sleeping with their boyfriend -unwarranted- or someone looking for money that my mom owed them. I just stared at it and thought man… this is boring. 

As soon as my phone realized I was ignoring the call and sent the unidentified person to voicemail, the restaurant phone began to ring. My assumption was that it was either a to-go order or someone asking if we were open. Generally that assumption is correct on a slow night like that. However, I was wrong.

“Sushi Bar” I stated upon answering.

“Uh, yes, is Becki working?” Suddenly my boredom began to seep away just a bit. No one called for me at the restaurant. No one ever.

“This is her.” I answered, interested to find out who was calling and what they were calling about.

“Becki, I’m so sorry to bother you, but I don’t know who else to call,” a girl’s voice said strained with worry. “Mike’s had an accident.”

At this point, I stopped pacing. A million things began to run through my mind. I can’t really recall what most of them were, except for I wish I was still bored.

“They’re taking him to the hospital right now. Really Becki, it’s not good. He fell skateboarding and he doesn’t know who we are or where he is and he’s vomiting. His eyes are beginning to pop out of his head. I don’t think he’ll be able to stay home alone tonight. I’m sorry to call you. I just don’t know who else to call.”

How is one supposed to respond to the call that your ex-boyfriend has been injured? I don’t know. Relationships are work, they say. Now I was putting in overtime.

“No, thank you for calling me,” I responded. “Where are they taking him?”

And that began one of the scariest weeks I have ever had to live through in all of my life.

Photo: Ali Kaukas

She said he was fine at first. He fell trying to land a skateboarding trick and knocked himself out and he laid in the bottom of a concrete bowl for about a minute. The first wave of paramedics came and he signed off on medical help. He gave all of his information: his name, his address. He was fine. Then about an hour later he started moaning, couldn’t stand up straight, started vomiting, and his face began to turn black and blue. He couldn’t tell anyone who they were. He didn’t know where he was. He insisted he just needed to lay down for a minute. Luckily, they insisted he needed to go to the hospital.

He was being taken to Springfield emergency about 20 minutes from his house and about an hour from where I work. I looked at my boss and stated I had to go, and he insisted that I do just that.

I couldn’t listen to music on the drive. For some reason, it was distracting. I drove in silence. At that point, I assumed I would go, we would spend a couple hours waiting for him to be cleared, and then I would take him home, spend the night with him, and then go back to my regular life void of him afterwards.

That was the second wrong assumption I made that night.

When I arrived at the hospital, I really had no idea what I was doing. I have never had to do this. I walked up to the front desk and told them who I was and who I was there to see. The lady directed me down the stairs and to the right to emergency. I walked up to another front desk and said again who I was and who I was there to see. A man in scrubs, with a balding head, and wire-framed glasses came around the corner.

“Are you Becki?” He asked me. I nodded. “I need to talk to you for a minute alone.”

I knew right then as he ushered me into a private room that something was very wrong. They don’t tell you good news in the privacy of a separate room. My heart sank, and I began to shake mildly. It’s funny how time seems to slow down and speed up all at once, together in unison, in a situation such as this. As much as as it feels like everything is in slow motion, it also feels like everything is moving at warp speed. Too much time and yet, not enough. An eternity is a split second and a split second is an eternity. He shut the door behind us, and motioned for me to sit down on the couch.

At this point he began rambling on about things I couldn’t really comprehend. Only certain words stuck out: coma, trauma, intensive, bleeding. I just stared, every now and again nodding, even though I was overwhelmed with misunderstanding. I put up my hand to stop him.

“Before you tell me anything more, can you just tell me if he is going to live?” I asked with an unsteady voice. I hadn’t cried yet. I was on the verge and didn’t want to if it was unneeded. His face went blank.

“I can’t tell you that, ma’am. He may not make it. I’m sorry, but this is critical.”

Pause. Breathe. Try to think. Breathe. Wait, where am I? Why is this happening? I need to call his parents. Why is he so stupid? Is this my fault? What do I do? He can’t die. He just can’t. Breathe. Ask the right questions. Should I cry? I don’t want to. I have to. Breathe. This is the worst day of my life. No, not yet. It’s not the worst day yet. Breathe. Why is this happening? Why can’t I figure out why this is happening? Breathe.

“Sir, could you please explain to me one more time what is happening and what I need to do?” I had been counting on him telling me that yes, he was going to live. I had been counting on that so much that I couldn’t pay attention to anything else he was saying. Now, I had no choice but to listen.

“We’re sending him to Dartmouth. We don’t have the proper equipment to handle a situation as severe as this. As you know, he fell skateboarding, and has some sort of severe head trauma that we can’t quite tell the severity of yet because he needs to have a CT scan and MRI done. The way his eyes have turned black and blue is indicative of internal bleeding in the brain, and I can safely assume that there are probably some skull fractures as well. Right now, we have him in an induced coma because he wasn’t breathing properly on his own and he was extremely combative, which is common with head injuries. You can see him before we send him if you want, but you don’t have to. It’s not going to be easy to see and he won’t remember whether you do or not.”

“I want to see him.”

“Okay, but please remember, it’s going to be hard to look at. You just have to trust that we’re going to take care of him best we can.”

“I want to see him now.”

He lead me through a hallway and delivered me to another waiting room of types. I sat down in a chair after being instructed to wait another minute. My leg bounced furiously up and down, a habit of mine that I do when anxious. I’ve been told I can bounce a whole room about doing it. Another male nurse entered and sat in the chair opposite me.

“We’re going to take him in a bit to Dartmouth and I’ve been told you want to see him.”

“Yes, I would like to see him.”

“Okay, but I want to stress that there will be a lot of things you don’t understand. Tubes, wires, IV’s, stuff that’s pretty typical of a hospital but not people’s everyday lives. It’s going to feel scary, and if you decide not to see him, he will never know.”

“Honestly, I’m scared shitless all ready, but tell me, what would you do? Would you choose not to go see your wife, your mother, your daughter because a bunch of strangers kept telling you that they won’t remember?” He smiled and stood.

“Follow me.”

He lead me around the corner and into a wing that was clearly some sort of a garage-like area. This is where they go right before they’re airlifted or driven by ambulance to whichever other destination the patient was prescribed. I could see a mobile stretcher surrounded by doctors and nurses, but I couldn’t see him yet. When they saw me, they began to whisper to one another and step away to clear a path for me. As I walked closer, one of them reached down and squeezed my hand. (Odd, how a stranger can feel like your best friend for a brief moment like that.)

He was completely motionless. The only sounds were the machine breathing for him and a bunch of beeps and dings coming from different machines he was connected to. The loudest silence I have ever been encompassed with. His hands and feet were restrained to the bed like he was some sort of a maniac. That bothered me more than any tubes or wires, which seemed to come from every part of his body like some bad sci-fi movie. His eyes were completely black, blue, and yellow and swollen shut. I thought about how that was weird, because everyone kept saying he hit the back of his head. Why was the front so unrecognizable? I stared for what seemed an eternity and a second all at the same time.

“Can I touch him?” I turned to one of the nurses breaking the loud silence.

“Of course. You can talk to him, too.”

“But he won’t remember?”

“Well, he probably won’t, but he’s in there. He can hear you.”

I walked a little closer and grabbed his hand. It was colder than I would have liked it to be. I bent down close to his ear.

“I’m going to follow you. Don’t you dare leave me, Michael. I’m not going to leave until you can leave with me. You have my word.”

I turned to the nurse one more time and announced to her for no particular reason “I’m going to cry now.” She said “okay,” and with those words of her approval, I began to.

They whisked me away from him again and began all talking at once. As I was lead by the arm back out into the waiting room they began shouting orders at me…

“Do not speed when you drive up there!”

“Do you know his family? You should call them!”

“Wear your seatbelt!”

“Do you have any insurance information for him?”

The only thing I could think of was that I didn’t tell him I loved him. Why didn’t I tell him I loved him? I began to panic. I pulled my phone out and texted it to him, knowing it was in vain, but I could think of no other way.

The nurse came up and handed me a bag filled with his belongings. As I was running back to my car so that I could follow him up to Dartmouth, I felt it vibrate. I stopped in the middle of the rainy parking lot and dug around until I pulled out his cell phone. The screen shown brightly, one new message, from me.

Becki: I love you so much

Thomas Jefferson (not really) was right. Boring never stays for long, but at that moment I would have given anything to be at work, bored out of my mind, with no place to be, and no one to see.

(To be continued…)

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