Yesterday was July 24th. It was the one year anniversary of my collision with a distracted driver that resulted in a very large scar on my lower left leg and a few scars on the inside as well, that have taken some time to heal.
After the accident I journaled a long play by play of my accident and published it as a blog. It was long and overly detailed and also just in general overburdened with the raw energy I was experiencing at that time, as well as the souped up pain medications I was on. People were forgiving. Nobody complained.
But this afternoon I was doing some reading. I’m reading a book called “When Things Fall Apart,” which was suggested by a friend. It’s hit on several things I’m currently working on in my own life (like not distracting myself by drinking lots of wine at home alone every night, or overeating and then forgetting to take care of my mental health–when do we get to the point where we get to be perfect and not have things that need work…where’s easy street?) Sometime I work on these things with more success than others…like last night I considered myself a success because I was sad about the state of our world and really would have liked to have stopped on the way home from work for some wine. I had a conversation with myself while I was riding my bike…”meh, it’s okay,” “Nah, you’re running into problems with this, and it’s the same thing every time,” “Come on,” “Trust this. Trust what’s happening here.” With that I conversed myself past Trader Joes wonderful wine section and straight up the hill to my house. I promised myself yoga, which I did, and I drank sparkling soda out of a wine glass so I’d feel sophisticated. I’ve promised myself for a while, to only have drinks outside the house with friends. I’m trusting the process.
What does any of this have to do with my accident? Not a lot unless you count fear. I have always been one of those ridiculously fearful people. I think I’ve mentioned it before, my great fear of dying of different things. Like that time in basic training I had to rappel down a building and I got at the very end of the line and cried all the way up to the front. I have terrible anxiety.
A year ago yesterday I was hit by a car and it changed my life. I had been speeding through life working as hard as I could. That week I’d committed to ride over 250 miles on my bike. I’d almost made it too. I had one more day of riding to my job and 24 hours of riding after that. I was riding in 24 HOB. Then I saw the car. Knowing there wouldn’t be time to change course. Knowing I was possibly looking at a death sentence and seeing that car continue to accelerate to push through the left turn quickly, was the most “I’m going to die,” experience I’ve ever had. My very first thought was, “I hope I don’t die, but I probably will,” (imagine Eyore). But my second thought was, “I hope Madison will be okay.”
Later, when I told her that, here’s what she said, “I want you to know Mom, I will be okay.”
But then I wasn’t dead. And that’s when things really sunk in for me. I wasn’t getting up from that accident. There wasn’t any rushing off to be fabulous or strong or any of the things I tell myself I need to be. I wasn’t going to ride for miles and I just had this. I just had this sorry, broken place where I was laying down. I just had this loneliness and wanting of love and connection. That’s what sticks. To this day, through all the anxiety and brokenness that i experienced on that day and after. Love and connection is what I recognized was lacking.
It was lacking that last summer in particular in my need to work and ride and work and ride. That was Madison’s last summer at home and I was staying busy because it made me sad to think about it. I worked. Then bam, I had to sit in a chair for three weeks while my daughter prepared meals and just hung with me. While friends came and forced me to endure unfathomable kindness. I had to just sit in that chair. It was hard not to move, but it was also the most loved and connected I’d felt until just then. I had to let go of all my show of strength to do it, and all of my, “don’t worry, I’ve got everything together,” in order to live in that spot. But it was totally worth it. Those days have changed my life in a way that i’m not sure I can even put into words successfully.
They made me recognize that love and connection is more important than ego. It’s more important than whether I look like I have it together and whether I seem strong and tough to others. It’s more important than whether I think i have the right answers for everyone.
I’ve spent my time since trying to reimagine community and inclusion. I used to spend a lot of time wondering if I was welcome. My hope now in the world is that all feel welcome connected and loved. Our lives are so stinking short and growing shorter by the day. The things we keep saying matter are not the things that really matter. Love matters. Love what matters.
In my life I’ve had two moments of being absolutely happy to see someone’s face. It was the same person, both times. The first time I was so stunned and happy to see someone was the first time I saw my daughter’s face. The second time was when I was being wheeled out of the emergency room at the hospital after I’d been hit by a car last year. Madison was suddenly standing in front of me. Her face that day was the best thing I’ve ever seen.