Saturday, February 25, 2006

As if it were Yesterday by Rosemary

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was hung over and I promised myself, I would never drink again. At 24 years of age, it was definitely a turning point in my life, in more ways than one.

The night before, Friday, the 13th, was a monumental day in my life. It was the day that my now-husband asked me out on a first "date." Little did I know, the next day would outweigh anything that had ever happened to me in my entire life. Even outweigh being asked out by someone I had had my eye on for months--and having to refuse. Yes, I had to tell him I had other plans. Ouch. But, I really did. And it was an important night that I couldn't fluff off.

My good friend Pam was moving, out of state. None of my friends had ever moved away from Arlington. What was the deal there?? Amy, Kell and I decided to take her out on the town, one last time. She was married, we were still single. I remember hitting some club in DC that was headlining a good band that we had always enjoyed listening and dancing to, "Downtown." I think it was one of their last shows before the lead singer was heading out to California to follow his new wife. Yuk. No fair, it such an awesome local band.

Well, we did, indeed, tie one on. Ow. Lord only knows what time I dragged my butt in that morning. I do remember sleeping until after noon. When I got up, I called Kelly, my best friend, to come down to the house and hang out. We both just laid in the yard on the cool grass, feeling extremely tired and, yes, still extremely hung over. It was late afternoon when she decided it was time to go home, so I mosied back into the house and back into bed to nurse the major headache I still had.

I was the only one still living "at home." My brothers had moved out years before. Jim was living in DC and my brother John had moved to Dallas to expand our family photo business. My dad had moved out when I turned 18 because he and my mom just couldn't get along living together any more. They stayed friends and he continued to support her. I had a good job and helped with the groceries every week and anything else my mom needed. We were good buddies, always.

The phone rang a couple of times, and I lay there thinking mom must have picked it up. Then I heard her, at the bottom of the stairs, with a wail that I had never heard before in my life. It was a curdling wail, not even close to a a scream. I knew something was wrong right away. I ran to the top of the stairs to see what had happened. She was still holding the phone to her ear. She was crying uncontrollably and she fell to sit on the bottom step. "John has had an accident--I don't know...." I asked her who was on the phone. It was Mitzi, my cousin, in Dallas. She's my cousin but strangely my mom's age. My mom couldn't talk so I took the phone and asked Mitzi what had happened.

"John is in the hospital. He fell off something and broke his neck. The doctors say he'll never walk again." What??? I tried to get as much information as I could. I stayed calm and strong (for mom if not for myself). I got all the numbers for the hospital that I needed so I could gather my own information.

I made sure mom was ok. I didn't want her to have a heart attack or anything. She was physically and mentally shaken as you can imagine. I had never seen her like this before. I called Dallas' Baylor Hospital from the kitchen to see if, in fact, the news we had just heard was accurate. I kept thinking in the back of my mind, "They have to be exaggerating, it can't be so." I think I called the ICU and spoke with someone, I don't even know who. He confirmed that yes, John had broken his neck and his spinal cord appeared to be severed. They would be able to tell more after the swelling went down--which could take months and even up to a year before they would know "for sure" if he would ever walk again. They explained where the spinal cord had snapped and that John had feeling on his shoulders but nothing below that. He would more than likely be in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Whether or not he would regain use of his arms, only time would tell.

I'll have to think now on how things progressed. It is this part that I remember most. How can anyone forget a phone call like that? I'll try and coincide with John's entries on my perspective of this life-altering experience. Let me stress that an accident of this multitude not only effects the person who becomes disabled, but it deeply effects the family and loved ones also. I can't say that enough. He is not the only one who went through hell and back, the family was right there by his side, some more than others. So, for anyone who is going through this very tough time with a loved one, I can only say that you all will survive.

Yes, there will be extremely tough times. You will have to do things you never thought you would have to do. There is a learning curve almost as intense for you as there is for the person who had the accident. But hang in there. I truly feel there is a reason these things happen; and it all makes us better people, somehow. You may not feel that now, but you will.


At 7:57 PM, Blogger John Ivey said...

Wow. That was very moving, very insightful and extremely well-written. Thank you little sister for that wonderful post.

At 3:57 AM, Blogger Cherry Rolfe said...

Thank you Rosa!


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