I am alive..because 19 years ago I didn’t die. 12/12/17
Today I celebrate being alive. It’s an anniversary of a NOT. NOT dying in a near fatal car accident that broke my body. I don’t remember the accident. I do remember an elderly woman holding my hand. I didn’t see her, I didn’t meet her, I didn’t hear her. I felt her hand and I knew she was there. I know she was an old lady with milk-chocolate colored skin. I don’t know why I know that. No witnesses remembered her, no one saw her. I heard from my husband later that the firemen cut me out of my jeep from the soft roof. I heard from witnesses that I was making weird animal sounds slumped over the steering wheel, but no one could tell me about the lady holding my hand. In the instant that my life changed, I remember her soft, wrinkly hand.
My hand was hard and bony from lifting weights. That’s why I’m alive. Because I was in training for a weight lifting contest kind of shape, and my heart could handle being broken, so said my doctors.
Broken wrist, broken ribs, broken foot, broken heel, broken shin, broken knee, broken teeth, punctured lung and punctured heart. Completely broken.
Weeks in the hospital, weeks in a wheelchair, a walker, surgeries, blah blah blah. People asked me after I healed, HOW did you do it? HOW did you get the strength? No one gave me a choice. There is no HOW, you just wake up in your own shit in the hospital and get cleaned off. Then you wake up again in your own bed and someone else helps. Lots of someones helped me. And you just keep waking up.
In December 1998, Pearl Jam remade a song called Last Kiss. I heard it in February one day when I was back in a car. I heard words that described how I felt. “Where oh where can my baby be? The lord took her away from me, she’s gone to heaven so I got to be good so I can see my baby when I leave this world”.
A part of me died. I don’t even know which part, but when Death came for me, he saw my face and knew who I was. I wanted to get that unscared, unbroken part of me back. I woke up everyday knowing I was changed and I had no choice over it, had nothing to do with it and no one asked me if I wanted to be strong and no one gave me any choices about it. So I got angry.
I breathed and meditated, because that’s all I could do. I fucking hated it. Then I did yoga, I fucking hated it. Then I limped, I fucking hated it. Then I ran through pain and got angrier. Lifted weights hating my smaller leg. I let myself for 19 more years analyze my imperfections. Not that I wasn’t happy - I was!! 12/12/98 was a dark day and everyday after was brighter, and more filled with love but afraid, filled with gratitude but worrying, filled with salvation but broken. Bittersweet.
3 kids, 2 states and many memories later I ran a marathon because I pushed for it. In every Downward Facing Dog I see my body imbalanced and one leg scarred and smaller than the other. So I worked harder. Lifted more, ran more, did more.
Today, I took a yoga class and Raquel said - “Surrender what you no longer need”. I heard her. I surrender angry so I can love my imperfections. I surrender “death knows me” so I can be fully alive. This accident has not been my story but I realized today that I let it push me, not only out of fear but also out of gratitude. I’m grateful that I was in good enough shape to survive. I’m grateful that it made me who I am today. Today I want to hold someone else’s hand in support because I remember who held mine.
We all know life changes in an instant, whose hand are you holding when it does?