In a split second everything can change, and the outcome can be devastating! My husband, Jim, and I came to understand this all too well one year ago today, and have been adjusting our lives accordingly ever since.
March 20, 2020 @ 3:30 PM - It was the phone call I'd prayed I'd never receive. Jim had been hit while riding his bicycle. Thankfully he was alive, and although the officer told me it was “nothing serious”, my heart feared otherwise. I'm not sure if the officer was just trying to help me keep calm or if he failed to appreciate just how severe Jim's injury was. However, that's become a moot point. 12 months later, my husband is alive and has made incredible progress recovering from an extremely critical spinal injury! What a life-changing journey it has been!
Following surgery to repair a shattered vertebra and fuse 4 others, the anesthesiologist informed me that we'd just “gotten our miracle”. Just before surgery when Jim had asked how soon he'd be back on his bike, I'd seen the glance the physicians exchanged. With such significant damage, their primary hope was that he'd at least be able to walk again. In complete amazement at how well the procedure had gone, the anesthesiologist was later able to assure me that Jim would certainly not be living out his life in a wheelchair! He felt certain, in fact, that with hard work and determination he would even be back on a bike!
A week or so later I walked to the scene of the crash, just 2 blocks from our home. Emotions were so close to the surface that I could hardly bring myself to approach the area. Other than a broken piece of Jim's eye-wear, there was no indication whatsoever that anything out of the ordinary had occurred there just a few days earlier. My feelings, standing in that very spot, defy description!
Grueling months of hospital stays, ER visits, physical therapy, and more followed. Through it all, Jim's motivation to ride again got us through the tough times. And then, in September he took a short ride on an electric-assist bike! In October, he pushed himself to ride 30 unassisted miles for a fundraiser; and in the last 11 weeks he's put more than 300 miles on his new titanium road bike! Yes indeed, he's my miracle man!
This past year has held tremendous demands and challenges, along with countless things to be thankful for! At times, the accompanying emotions have overwhelmed me. Fear, helplessness, and anger side by side with profound gratefulness. Feelings I haven't known how to put words to.
A recurring refrain has played in the back of my mind - “Why me?” Not in the sense of “Why was my Jim hit?”. Or “Why were the circumstances around his crash never investigated?”. The question wells up from the deep place in my being that can't help but ask why I/we should be so incredibly blessed. A great many people in similar situations have buried their loved ones along with their hopes of a future together!
An inescapable undercurrent of anger and frustration exists, despite the incredible thankfulness I feel. I came to recognize that I must cultivate healthy ways to deal with those feelings. The emotions are legitimate, but allowing them to impact me negatively would be self-destructive. How could I use my voice to build up rather than tear down? Where could I find healing for my own spirit? And could that place of healing potentially benefit others?
Arriving at the decision to speak up as an advocate for vulnerable road users has become the answer to my questions. Perhaps it is why my Jim's life was spared? I don't think I'd have had the heart to stand up for others if I had have lost him. But, each and every day I'm reminded that he wasn't taken from me, and with that is a profound sense of responsibility to be a voice for those less fortunate than we!