i’m listening to the sound of sirens busting through the night air and into our bathroom window. sirens are no surprise in this neighborhood or this city.
tonight, they came for me.
i lay in the middle of a busy intersection, people fluttering about me like bees, my eyes fixed on the clear blue sky above me. and i listened for the sirens.
i should back up.
i was riding my bike nearly three miles east of our house, to take care of a friends’ dog. i came to the intersection of English and Emerson and, noticing i had a yellow light and therefore time to get through, i pedaled on. the car, a mid-sized SUV type, must have thought the same thing. she was coming from the opposite direction and turning left, right into me.
i saw it coming but was powerless to stop it. she struck me on my left side, propelling me forward over the handle bars and down to the ground. i was immediately hyper-verntilating, crying and rolling on the pavement. my back hurt, my elbows. and i was scared to death.
i was immediately surrounded by people calling 9-1-1, removing my helmet, telling me to lay still. an off-duty medic took hold of my head and asked me all the questions while we waited for the police. a sweet stranger sat with me and tried to call my mom. then the driver crouched down near my face.
“is she ok?” she asked, panic-stricken. “are you ok?”
“i will be, i think,” i answered.
“i’m so sorry. my uncle died today and i was just on my way to be with my family…i didn’t see you.” impossible to be upset with her at this admission, so i told her i was sorry about her uncle.
the firemen arrived and did preliminary assessment of my situation. as i joked later, some firemen felt me up so it wasn’t a completely bad night. then a sweet man named Kurt took my side and got me loaded into the ambulance, which immediately reminded me of my dad, which made me start crying. Kurt noted this and asked if i was ok.
“i want my dad,” i said between sobs. no matter how old you get, you never stop needed that presence.
got to the hospital and more questions, blood draws, x-rays. so many x-rays. all i wanted was a friendly face. and to not be pent up in a neck brace. they wheeled me back to my room in the ER, and there he was. my pops. just sensing him near, i let down my strong guard and cried hysterically.
“were you scared?” he asked quietly, and i nodded while wiping my eyes.
finally, they reviewed my x-rays and i was cleared to go home. finally, after four hours. i have two very bruised and very tender elbows and wrists, an aching back, and sore neck. but here is the not-so-comprehensive list of things i’m so grateful for as i say good-night:
Paramedics. and Firemen. and Police officers. anyone who showed up to that intersection and held my head or lifted me onto a spinal board, or held onto my bike waiting for my dad to come pick it up.
strangers who act without thinking of themselves.
the timing of a situation that would allow a car to hit mostly my bike instead of my body.
dads who handle insurance calls and moms who handle your urine cup.
friends who call and text and come to visit you in the ER.
being alive. man, how simple but how true.
drugs. oh yes. come to mama, vicoden.
and God…who kept me safe and mostly unbroken, and saw fit that i could breathe another day.