Wrecked

By , Evergreen, CO
I had no idea. No idea that as I was sitting on my cousin’s couch flipping through channels on the TV, my dad was flipping across the unforgiving pavement of an intersection, his motorcycle hurtling after him. I had no idea that as I was hunkered over my dull macaroni and cheese dinner, doctors were hunkered over Dad who lay across the ER operation table. I had no idea that as I was lying sound asleep in the guest bedroom, Dad was lying sound asleep on a hospital bed tangled up in tubes and bandages. I had no idea until the phone rang the next morning.

“Hello?” I said as I brought the phone up to my innocent, unknowing head.

“It’s Mom.” She had sounded uneasy and anxious, but of course, I didn’t know why. “How’s your stay at your cousins?”

“It’s fine.” I said as I began to worry.

“Listen,” Mom said, finally dropping the small talk, “There’s been an accident.”

I didn’t say anything, mostly because a giant lump of fear had been blocking my passage. As mom explained the unfortunate series of events: the truck, the motorcycle, the collision, the hurt Dad, I sat frozen. Unmoving. Not breathing. I was waiting for the three words that would change my future; “He is dead”, but praying for the three words that would save it; “He is alive”.

“He’s alive, but—“

Relief flooded me, but wait...had she said “but”? As in, there was something else to this story? Suddenly the relief had been replaced with worry. Coma? Paralyzed? Brain damage? Was he still my dad? I closed my eyes and pictured Dad before the accident, the way he had smiled and laughed. Would I ever see him like that again?

“—he has a broken arm, a broken leg, some cracked ribs, and is going to need a lot of surgery.”

“He will be okay though?” I asked finding my voice, though it had been a quiet one.

“Do you want to see him?” Mom said instead.

“Yes.”
***

Within the hour I was in the elevator with Mom at St. Anthony’s. I’d never been in a hospital under these circumstances. Before today, I’d only been to the hospital during a time of excitement as we’d headed off to the child birth wing to hold a new baby. This time was different. This time, there was a pit of dread and nausea flooding my stomach. This time, our destination was the ER.

The ER didn’t have as much privacy as other hospital rooms: these rooms were separated by only a curtain, allowing you to hear the sobs of the family members of patients next door. They unknowingly were about to hear mine.

I burst into tears as soon as I saw Dad. It was an unforgiving, uncontrollable fit of them. All I could get out was a plea for him to never ride his motorcycle again. To my amazement, he denied. He said to me through the tangle of oxygen tubes around his face: “You can sit in a chair and go through life safely, or you can get out and risk your life doing what you love.”

I thought he was crazy.
***

Weeks went by, we were still learning to cope with the obstacle we were given, but we were getting used to the hospital life. As hard as it was, we got used to the hospital cafeteria tuna, the long waits in between surgeries and the coming and going of visitors. My brother and I had even made games out of the hospital supplies: “blow up latex gloves” and “wheel chair races”.

After a while, Dad got moved from the ER and into his own private room a few floors down. It was like a shot of hope into my veins; knowing that he was well enough to move out of the ER.

Sure, some days ended with frustrated tears and sometimes I felt so mad at the world for doing this to him that I wanted to scream, which I often did. But, things were looking up.

Finally he came home. More weeks went by and Dad slowly weaseled his way out of his wheelchair and casts and into physical therapy. He was finally recovered, but to my dismay, so was his bike. Dad was back at it again. I refused to ride, but seeing how happy it made Dad, I eventually gave in.

I clenched my teeth and gripped the side of the bike, terrified for my life. Though as we rode, I began to relax, falling into the easy rhythm of the rocking bike.

I had no idea. I had no idea that as I was mad at the world for letting this happen, Dad was thanking it for letting him live. I had no idea that as I was begging Dad not to ride again, he was waiting for the moment when he could ride again. I had no idea that risking your life by doing something you loved was actually worth while. I had no idea. I had so much to learn.





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