Friday, November 20, 2009

Still Here

Two years ago, I nearly did not live to see Thanksgiving. After leaving the hospital and flying back to Dallas, I wrote the following:

A Mist -- Extended

"[Y]et you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." James 4:14 (ESV)

Sometimes at this holiday season, generic expressions of thanks may indicate a lack of thoughtfulness. Sometimes not. As this Thansgiving weekend comes to a close, I can say with deep sincerity that I am grateful to be alive. It was almost not the case.

Last Monday, I was driving my silver Jaguar, which I had recently purchased and of which I was so proud, up I-65 near Horse Cave, Kentucky. I looked up from hunting for a radio station and suddenly realized that traffic had come to a complete stop in front of me. I stood on my brakes, but realized it was too late. Seeing that I was about to go sliding underneath the semi truck in front of me, I cut the wheel hard to the right and went into an open field. The car then rolled over and my head hit the windshield hard. Once the car stopped and I came to, I reached up to touch my forehead and felt the gash. I also saw that my shirt was covered with blood. Although I didn't feel that much pain, I knew that I was cut pretty badly, and my first thought was that I was going to bleed to death before anyone would be able to help me.

I wish that there were a way to personally say thanks to the wonderful people who left their vehicles and came to help keep me calm and hold a towel on my head until the emergency personnel arrived. I guess that I will never know their names. Once they arrived, the EMT's called for a helicopter to come get me and take me to the hospital.

I left the hospital Wednesday evening and flew back to Dallas last night. Remarkably, I have no broken bones. Stitches hold together a 6 inch cut starting on my forehead and going up to near the top of my head. I also have a horrible looking black eye and my neck is bruised deeply behind my right ear. None of those things hurt. My left shoulder, which shows no bruises, aches. In another day I may have to go back to the doctor about that.

The word is not yet official, but I assume that my car was totalled. I guess I should thank it for saving my life. More than one person has told me that I likely would not have made it if I had been driving a lighter car. I think they are right.

The experience also did not rob me of my sense of humor. As I mentioned, I flew home last night. It was basically the first time I have been in public, and I am sure that the reader can imagine the stares. As I was getting on the plane, a flight attendant looked at my face, and her eyes widened.

I smiled and said, "That was done by the flight attendant on my last plane."

"Oh really?" she asked.

"Yes," I replied. "I called her a stewardess and she beat the daylights out of me."

Fortunately, she laughed.

I really am thankful to be alive.

2009 Update: the car was, in fact, totalled, but cars are replaceable. After writing the above, I had a hematoma that required surgery the following week. The shoulder improved with physical therapy. All turned out well. The accident was a well-disguised blessing, as it brought me back to some fundamental values of what is most important about life.

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