It’s been five years. It’s awfully surreal. So long ago. But also yesterday.
For better or worse, anniversaries make us pause and reflect, don’t they? I’ve struggled with what to say about where I am with the whole ordeal of the crash, five years in. Or to say anything at all.
I wrote so much early on, partly to help educate others on what it’s like to be a victim of an inattentive driver. But also for my own catharsis. That need is not as intense as time passes and softens the highs and lows, little by little.
But I think it’s important to acknowledge this unfortunate anniversary. And be honest about the path to this point. Because it’s an endless path. It changes, yes. But there simply isn’t an end-point in this journey of living with the fallout from an event like this in my life, both physically and emotionally. It’s a life sentence for someone else’s error.
The pain sucks
I’m fairly accustomed to my “new normal” physically at this point. There’s never a day it doesn’t suck. There’s just sort of a baseline suckage and it goes downhill from there.
Yes, I still do a lot of what I love for the most part. But even on the best days, there’s still pain management. Physical therapy will be with me forever. I can never let my guard down on that or I end up hurting worse.
I’m always aware of the rod in my femur and the clips holding my cobbled-together femoral artery intact. The scars suck and are a constant, unpleasant reminder. One of these days I’ll get some gorgeous tattoo to make something better of them. But I’ve got other things to tend to right now.
And I still slam up against unexpected limitations. In a motorcycle skills class back in September, my leg failed me. Big time. I didn’t see that coming. I’ve worked really damn hard for the last five years to rebuild strength and mobility and have made great progress. But it wasn’t enough to handle the bikes we used there. I spent the day in a spiral of frustration and failure.
Which brings me to the emotional side of the equation. When I hit those kinds of barriers like I did in class, anger is inevitable along with a host of other emotions.
Most days are fine now, though. The emotional roller coaster is less and less tumultuous with the passing days. But it’s always there. And I never know when I won’t be in charge of how that plays out.
So I remind myself that the process is not linear and I ride the waves.
Keep moving forward
There is a certain hint of melancholy to this anniversary. I imagine there always will be. But in the end, I’m ok in spite of the struggle to get to a good place and stay there. I still do a lot of cool stuff. And I still have wonderful people in my life who love me. I’m still a happy person. And I’ll still keep on doing my thing.
The point I find myself coming around to in this post is a message to you all—be deliberate and kind with your words to the people in your life who are in similar situations. Remember the malleable but permanent nature of these things in our human experience. Honor their struggle. Take care you’re not unintentionally dismissive about the fact that it’s carried with that person every day at some level or another, even years later. There’s no such thing as “back to normal” in these scenarios. There’s just moving forward.
And for crying out loud, all of this is avoidable if we all just pay attention to and take responsibility for the job of driving. There would be so much less suffering and loss in the world. It’s a very simple equation. One we have control over.
Adventure on, friends.
Steve Zigler says
For what it’s worth the stories you have shared over the last five years have mattered to me. They’ve made a difference. I know that may only provide a little solace, but it matters. You matter. Thanks for sharing your journey and here is to the next five years!?
Val Weston says
Thank you for the kind words and friendship, Stevie. Virtual hugs to you. 🙂