The Day That Changed My Life

January 18, 2013
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When I was a little kid, I was somewhat of a naïve and carefree person. Back then, I had taken most things for granted. I had never stopped to think about how some others did not have it as good as I did. But during the summer after my fifth grade year, one of the most memorable days of my life happened. It not only changed who I was, but made me realize how important the little things in life truly are.

As far as I can remember, I pretty much lived the typical childhood lifestyle. I lived, and still do live in the same house that I grew up in with my mom, dad and two sisters. My sisters and I were all very intelligent young girls, so we went to special “gifted and talented program” schools in our county. They were mostly the same as regular public schools, but the classes were on a higher level. During these few years of my life, the most vivid memories I have are from when I was in first grade, when through the period of about four months, all three of my remaining grandparents had died. It hit my family and my parents really hard; I remember each one of my family members being stricken with grief. The loss of my grandparents was one of the biggest events that affected my childhood life. But in reality it was not so bad, and over time things had begun to get a lot better around the house. I was still living a normal, happy childhood. Little did I know that after I had graduated elementary school, my entire life was about to change.

It was a bright and sunny day on July 1st, 2007. It was the summer after my fifth grade year of school, and I had spent the past few weeks relaxing and enjoying my time off before starting middle school that August. My family members were all starting to begin their busy summer plans. My oldest sister, Jen, had just graduated high school and began traveling around the country looking for colleges with my mom. My other sister, Michelle, was going into her sophomore year of high school and was spending her summer playing her favorite sport, softball, on a team that was coached by my dad. So far, it had been a pretty normal summer for our family. That July morning, I woke up to the sound of my dad pulling out of the driveway in his red SUV. He was leaving to go coach another softball game for my sister’s team. As I got out of bed, I heard what sounded like my sister walking in and out of her room. This was unusual to me, because normally my sister would have been in the car with my dad going to the game. I remembered that my dad and my sister had been having some trouble getting along recently, and just the day before they had gotten in a very big argument over the phone. So, figuring that my sister had just decided to skip the game, I went on with my day per usual. My mom and sister were home from visiting colleges that week, so the only person not in the house was my dad. A few hours later, the phone rang. I picked it up and was greeted by one of the other coaches from the softball team, who asked me if my dad was still sleeping. Confused, I said no and told him that he had left a few hours ago. The coach told me that my dad had not shown up to the field yet, and the game was about to start. I told him I would call his cell phone and see where he was. When I dialed the number, it went straight to voicemail, signaling that the phone was turned off. This was kind of unusual, but I figured that maybe he had just forgotten to charge his phone the night before and shook it off. My mom called the coach back and told him she couldn’t get a hold of him, but she was sure that he was on his way there. Neither my mom nor I put much thought into this situation, because we figured he was just running late and had forgotten to charge his phone, like always.

About an hour and a half later, I was sitting in the living room with my sister, Jen, when a cop car pulled into our driveway and came to our front door. My mom went down to get the door while me and Jen sat there, having no idea what was going on. She went down and sat on the stairs in front of the door as I watched from the living room. As I watched my mom and the police officer have their conversation, I noticed the look on her face go from a smile to a look of utter shock. It was like, from looking at her expression, I could feel the pain in her eyes. I looked out through the sliding glass door and saw the police officer take out a map and point to a location on it. The police officer then shook my mom’s hand and returned back to his car. As my mom walked back in the door, the look on her face was indescribable. She seemed to be staring blankly at nothing for a few minutes, and then her face began to look similar to my sister’s. When I looked in my mom’s eyes, I saw nothing but panic and fear. All she said to my sister was, “Get in the car. We need to go to Shock Trauma, now.” Without a second thought, my sister ran downstairs to put on her shoes. Confused and worried, I asked my mom what was going on, and all she could manage to say was, “Your father has gotten in a bad car accident. Your sister and I are going to the hospital.” After hearing those words, everything started making sense to me. The calls from the coach, my dad’s phone being off, etc. Suddenly, what seemed like a thousand different emotions and thoughts whirled around in my head. It took me several minutes to actually process all that was going on. Then, moments later, I felt a huge wave of worry, shock and grief wash over me like a tidal wave. All I could think about was what might’ve happened, how bad of a car accident it was, and if my dad was going to die. Once I broke the news to Michelle, we sat together in the living room for about an hour with the TV and lights off; just sitting there, in silence. Michelle had always had the closest relationship with my dad out of all three of us sisters, and after remembering the events that had happened betweened the two of them the night before, I couldn’t imagine the kind of guilt that she must have been feeling. After a few hours, we received a call from our mother telling us that my dad was in critical condition, had been in what seemed like a coma since he was first found in his car, and was starting to suffer minor heart failure. My mom knew that we wanted to go up there and see him as soon as possible, so she called one of the other coaches of the softball team to come pick us up and give us a ride to the Baltimore Shock Trauma center. Once we got to the hospital, we sat down in the waiting room next to my crying mother and sister. It was one of the most depressing places I had been in my life. Many sad, distraught families were all sitting in one waiting room, most of them not knowing whether or not their loved ones were dying or were already dead. I remember after about thirty minutes, one of the doctors came out and told us that our father was still in critical condition, but was now stable. He allowed two visitors to go in his room and see him, so my mom and Michelle went in first. They were in there for about 5 minutes, and then suddenly came out. They said that while they were in there, a bunch of monitors had started going off. My dad was having another heart failure. The doctors made them leave and once again we all sat in the waiting room, listening to nothing but our thoughts and the sounds of my mother’s whimpering sobs. After about an hour, the doctor finally came out and told us that my dad was going to be okay. Although it seemed like his heart was failing again, they had managed to shock him and bring him back. Later that night, the doctor told my mom that my father was basically going to be alright. Although he was suffering many, many injuries, he was expected to make a full recovery. They told us that it would be about two years until he was finally out of the hospital and back home.

My dad was released from the hospital just six months after his accident. He had made a miraculously speedy recovery, and was finally able to come back home to us. Although he recovered from all of his physical injuries, he unfortunately now suffers from brain damage caused by the impact of the crash. At first he had some trouble remembering things, but as of now, he is mostly back to normal. With a brain injury, though, they say a person is “never really the same” after it. This may, in some ways, be true for my dad, but words cannot even express how grateful my family and I are that my father is still alive. My dad’s car accident changed me in a lot of ways. After those first few days that he was in critical condition, I began to think about a lot about things. I realized in a matter of just moments, everything in your life can change. Life is too short to spend being unhappy, taking things for granted, and fighting with the people you love. No matter what, there will always be someone else in the world that may not have the things you have, or have a family and people to love and care for them. While some of us complain about the little things we want or don’t have, we often do not stop to think about how others may have it much worse. To them, the things we take for granted are the things they may need the most. From almost losing my dad and living in this whole situation, I feel that overall it has changed me for the better. I now have compassion and sympathy towards almost everyone I meet, and am always willing to help someone who is less fortunate when they are in need. Whenever I am upset because I didn’t get something I want, or my family doesn’t get to do the things that other families do, I always think about how it could be worse. Nowadays, that is what gets me through everything. I know that I am so lucky to still have my father alive and with me. So instead of doing what most teens do and growing distant from their families as they get older, I make it a point to spend time with my mom, sisters, and especially my dad, every day of my life.

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