(The following is not a fabricated recollection of my recent wreck. This is how I remember things to be. Although the words might not truly be accurate to how things occurred, any missteps in facts or details are due to my condition at the time.)
“Ma’am…….Ma’am…..can you hear me? Ma’am……”
I open my eyes into tiny slits, just enough to see a completely shattered windshield just inches from my face.
I can hear the sound of crunching glass, bending metal, urgency, and lots of voices yelling orders back and forth.
“Ma’am……Can you move your legs? I need you to move your legs. Can you do that for me?”
Aware but with my eyes still closed, I wiggle my legs, immediately realizing there is no more room to move them anywhere else. They’re pinned in, stuck. I can feel the millions of little shards of glass sprinkling over my feet as I try to do something, anything with my legs. I make a mental note and thank God that I actually can move, feel my legs.
I open my eyes and see a small glimpse of the sky. I close my eyes again. Holding them open takes too much effort. Hard, firm, and sturdy, I realize I am on a stretcher. Something is on my neck keeping it still. I can hear noises all around but I can’t focus on anything.
“Ma’am, what happened? Can you tell me about what happened?”
I respond, or at least try to respond, but suddenly I realize that the droopiness I had felt earlier in my mouth wasn’t just because I was in and out of consciousness. There is an alarming amount of pain there, and I have very little function or control. Somehow, I utter, “I don’t know. Nothing. I don’t know”
Then, as if all the terror of the situation is not enough, I realize they don’t know…..
“My baby! Is my baby ok? How’s my baby” I say with slurred speech to anyone and everyone that will listen, cause even though I’m not looking at anyone, I know they are there. I need an answer.
“You didn’t have anyone else with you in the car. You were alone. It’s ok……” someone replies back.
“Pregnant” I eek out, “I’m pregnant,” I say as I struggle to lift my right arm and tap my hand on my belly.
Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump.
“Oh shit. I am in a helicopter. Dear God help me. This is a helicopter. They only put really hurt people in a helicopter; they call it ‘life flight’ for a reason. Oh God help me” I think to myself, eyes still closed. I begin to trace my tongue inside my mouth. I feel a gap. My thoughts run wild: Did I lose teeth? Oh wait, here is a tooth…..no, that’s not a tooth, that’s my jaw? Is that a bone sticking out inside my mouth? No, it’s a tooth out of place, right?
I stretch out my hands. I need a human. I want to touch another human, cause if I am holding tight to another person, I’m still alive and still here. To my left, I find the forearm of a man, strong and hairy. He allows me to keep a tight grip on him. I’m totally not letting go. I never see his face, but gripping him is helping to save me.
With my eyes now opened, I notice a woman that leans over me from the right. Her eyes are a brilliant blue, beautiful. I can’t notice or remember anything else, just that her eyes are blue and her hair has a red tint to it. Those blue eyes and red hair look just like my friend Amanda’s sister, Sherry. It comforts me, perhaps because suddenly it feels like something “familiar” is near me. But mostly I think it comforts me because Sherry is a woman that is strong, resilient, and will fight for things. She does not give up easily, and she is determined. Having this “Sherry” with me during my helicopter transport is just what I need….someone that will fight for me, along with my unborn baby.
I close my eyes again, for I just can’t keep them open long. Too much stimulus, too much effort, too much everything.
“Can you tell me how old you are?” I’m asked by Sherry.
“Thirty-One” I mumble, but immediately I regret talking due to pain it causes and the energy it takes, so I then hold up three fingers on my right hand followed by one finger. I maintain my grapple on the man to my left. He doesn’t make me let go, thankfully.
“How far along are you?”
Oh Lord thank you they know and remember I am pregnant! One finger followed by four fingers is my next move, and Sherry immediately replies, “14 weeks…..congratulations!”
Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump.
Somehow, someway, I end up in the ER. I don’t know how I knew what hospital I was at, but it managed to get relayed to me. Maybe I just intrinsically knew. Without my grip on the man in the helicopter, I feel like I am floating in a pool of chaos, fear, and pain completely alone. I grab the hand of the next human that I hear near me. She allows me a few seconds of comfort but then has to return to responding to my physical needs: bleeding, IVs, removing glass.
With my eyes open, I see no one I know. “Husband. I want my husband” I utter. I don’t even remember what they tell me as a response, I just know I don’t see him, so I just begin to beg for my friend, Helen. I know that I am at her hospital, so if she is at work, I want her, and I want her now. I know she is close. “Get my friend Helen. She works with the babies. NICU. Get Helen” becomes my mantra. I say it enough to where I finally see the nurse pick up a phone and call Helen’s unit. The nurse never says what she was told, but I figure no response to me means my friend isn’t working today. I’m still alone, and I need someone. I begin to wonder: Do they even know who I am? No one has asked me. Could I even pronounce my last name well enough for them to understand me and could I give them a phone number if I had to do it?
I cry out in my heart for God to bring me someone to help me not be alone.
Soon, my love races into the room. He gently grabs my hand and cries. My neck is still in a brace, my body is achy, my jaw is throbbing, but suddenly my world becomes right, or as right as it can be considering the circumstances. “I thought I had lost you, Summer. I was so scared I had lost you” Thomas tells me between sobs.
But he didn’t lose me, thank God. I know that I’m banged up and bruised and broken but I know that I am still here, and he is with me, and that is enough for this brief moment.