My first recommendation is to ride a bicycle. This is specifically for their fool factor – every time I saw someone riding a bicycle it seemed so innocuous. It was low-impact exercise that was good for you. Lance Armstrong rode a bicycle and he beat like one million kinds of cancer. Does that not promote the idea of health and well-being in regards to the bicycle?
I live in Brooklyn and all of the hipsters ride bicycles: they have messenger bags and wear vintage glasses and they make riding over the Williamsburg Bridge look cool and sweat free. I thought that if those pasty skinned music lovers could handle riding their bikes in Brooklyn so could I. I mean hello! I was an All County Track Champion in high school, I am completely jacked and awesome. I knew I could own that bicycle. I’m not just talking about owning it in the actual “I purchased it kind of way”—–I mean own it in the frat boy way, e.g., “we totally owned that keg last night.” That was the way I was going to own that bicycle.
I actually did, for almost a year. I rode my bike for errands, I rode my bike to work, I rode my bike to my friends’ apartments in the neighborhood, locking it to stop signs and feeling eco-conscious and thoughtful. In the summer I even took myself on romantic bike rides—and let me tell you that bicycle had moves. Stopping in McCarren Park at twilight made me feel like I was in a foreign film sitting on a park bench drinking wine in a black beret and a scarf, when I was in fact sitting on patchy brown grass, wearing sports shorts and running sneakers and drinking a Bud Light Tall Boy in a brown paper bag.
When I woke up early on October 2nd, the day that I got run over by a truck, I won’t tell you that I had a premonition, or that there was a hand on my shoulder that told me to not go out that day – because that would be untrue. But I did get the feeling that someone was trying to tell me something I obviously had no interest in hearing. These were my signs from God: 1. My bike tires were flat; 2. I almost fell down the stairs trying to get my bike out of the apartment; and — most important — 3. I did not wear any underwear.
Most lazy twenty-four-year-old people when faced with the fact that the tires on their bike are flat would say, “Fuck it, I’m not going to bother.” Nope not me, not Katie can-do, I was like, “I’ll fill up my tires and get in a workout – this is going to be the best morning ever!”
Then my bike tried to attack me as I took it down the stairs. We got out of the door just fine, but as we went down the stairs the bike started to bend and fold as if it was trying to fight me to get back into the apartment. I should have seen it as a cry for help. Bob the Bike knew more than I did – he didn’t want to die either. He was trying to stop me, but I wasn’t listening. I wanted to be thin, to get that endorphin rush, and on top of that I wanted to see the sunrise – I wanted it all.
As a child I was told to always wear clean underwear, the reasoning being, “What if you get into an accident.” This didn’t make sense to me because I had always assumed that if I got into an accident I would wind up peeing my pants. But because I was a good girl I wore clean underwear none the less. I had made a conscious choice to not wear underwear that day and by doing that I now believe I locked in my fate; my accident was bound to happen.
Before I continue, I need to make one point about this whole underwear thing – I had just gotten up, underwear free, and the idea of putting on a beautifully pristine pair of undies just to get them dirty made no sense to me. I had thought that on this point God and I were on the same page…I was mistaken.
I went outside and it was an unbelievably beautiful day – there was the smell of fall in the air, the sky was a deep blue – and there was no one on the streets. The morning felt like keeping a secret; it was dark, quiet and gave me shivers. The leaves on the few trees that had survived the urban sprawl on my block were starting to turn a golden yellow. Fall has always been my favorite season, a time of new beginnings, a new year of school, a new fall jacket—a chance to start over again. It made me hopeful. I walked my bike up one block and over another to the Hess station on the corner of Metropolitan and Humbolt. I had a quarter tucked into my sock to pay for the air I was going to pump into Bob the Bike’s tires. I have always felt satisfied when I fixed a problem – no matter how small. That morning I looked at my fully pumped tire and felt unnecessarily proud of myself. I was ready.
It was 6:15 by now, and I was riding down Metropolitan without much of a plan, I just knew I wanted to ride for forty-five minutes, and to discover the neighborhood. My roommates and I had just moved into a new apartment in Williamsburg. In the most classic of New York real estate scams, our Mafia-esque landlords (I am talking gold chains nestled in a tuft of chest hair and Fila velour track suits) had told us that our old building was being sold, and that we had to move out in a month. In actuality the building was not being sold, they were just bringing in people who would pay more rent. We moved about ten blocks away, further from the sweet Italian neighborhood that we had been living in and closer to the industrial part of Williamsburg.
I actually liked that we lived closer to where the factories were. I thought that it was cool to be able to live in a place that was a little less gentrified, a little grittier. I loved being able to see dirty New York, the New York that had frightened me as a little kid. When I was a small girl I was so afraid of the big bad dirty city that when my mom and I came in from Long Island to see Peter Pan on Broadway, I made her leave during intermission. Now that I was a big girl, I was proud and happy to not be that scared anymore.
This morning I rode past the furniture outlets and the mattress factories, past the abandoned brick buildings with the painted names of the past tenants chipping off their brick façades. I wanted to take it all in, I was feeling good. I was forgetting about the fight that I had with my boyfriend the night before, I was sweating off my nerves about work, the world felt big, and I felt small and that was a very good thing.
The sun was starting to rise over the low buildings on Vandervoort Avenue as I was about half an hour deep into my workout, and I thought that watching the sunrise as I rode out the last fifteen minutes would be perfect. I wanted to take this morning and make it mine. I wanted to see something beautiful and then be able to keep it in my pocket all day. It was my secret to keep.
I stopped at the red light on the corner of Maspeth and Vandervoort. I looked back at the car behind me, a black Mazda sedan, and I waved at the driver and pointed to the right, letting them know which way I was turning. The truck that was next to me didn’t have its indicator on, so I assumed the driver was going straight. Just in case he wasn’t, I waved in his side mirror anyway. I pointed to myself and then I pointed to the right. I always communicated with truck drivers via their side view mirrors. I spent a lot of time behind trucks on interstate 80 on my trips from college in Ohio back to my home in New York. Every one of their signs specifically said “IF YOU CAN’T SEE MY MIRRORS, I CAN’T SEE YOU.” My assumption was that the opposite was also true – If you can see my mirrors, than I can see you. Another complete misconception.
When the light turned green, I pushed my feet off of the asphalt and put them on my pedals. I took my right turn wide and easy, without a thought about the sixteen-wheel vehicle on my left – because it wasn’t turning, and for that matter the Mazda wasn’t either—I thought I had tons of room.
The truck hadn’t seen my very clear indication that I was going to turn right. He hadn’t seen me at all. He didn’t see my metallic blue bicycle, with the red writing on it. He didn’t see the long sleeve t-shirt that I was wearing – the one that I got from running a 5K for a fallen Army Ranger. He also didn’t see the Pi Phi t-shirt I had on under that one, the one that we got made for our spring formal. He didn’t see any part of me. All he saw was a green light, and he turned.
The last thing I remember before being actually run over was the hollow sound of my fist banging on the side of the truck, and then I felt as though I was tumbling. I don’t know where my bike went, I knew I was on the road, and there was this moment when I thought – “Am I in an action movie? This is the kind of shit that happens in action movies. What would Bruce Willis do? What can I do to I stop this?!?”
The answer was nothing. There was nothing that I could do.
Before I even really realized what was happening, I felt this pressure and I heard cracking. The realization that the cracking was my bones shocked me. I felt the first four wheels of the truck run over my body. I didn’t have the time to process the pain, all that I could think was, “Sweet Jesus, please let this man stop before the second set of wheels comes for me.”
“No, no, no, please God no” – was what I remember shrieking before the second set came for my already crushed middle.
This time as the wheels came I kept my eyes open. I watched as these giant wheels ran over my body. I heard more cracking and I felt the grooves in the tires. I heard the mud flaps thwack over me. I felt gravel in my back. I felt like a sparrow who had lingered too long in the road. I was suddenly every slow bird, every irresponsible squirrel, every wayward dog that the driver didn’t see, who just wasn’t fast enough.
Then there was the sound of a fist on a horn – a one-note beep that didn’t stop. This was the kind of horn blowing that you hear on the BQE during rush hour, the kind where you know the horn is being punched out of frustration and confusion. When I heard that horn I thought to myself, “Now you beep, you couldn’t have beeped before your death machine crushed my body?” Hearing something meant I was still alive, I was still here—and as long as I stayed awake, I was alive. As long as my eyes were open, then I was awake. I barely blinked.
My bike was tangled up in my legs, like a five-year-old who had just had their first bike fall. I remember being nine and watching my little sister Callie learn how to ride her bike in the street in front of our house. My Dad had just removed her training wheels and was holding the seat. He was running behind her, keeping her steady, making her feel grown up but protected. She could look back and he was there. When he thought she could do it on her own, he stopped holding on, as all parents do. She was great for about fifty feet, but then she looked back and realized my dad wasn’t behind her anymore. Callie lost all of her confidence, she forgot that she had been doing it on her own for the last few moments and she wobbled, screamed, and fell. In the process of her fall, she kept moving her legs. They looked like they weren’t even a part of her body, as though they were working on their own, unsure if she should continue to pedal or if jumping off would save her. My body must have reacted the same way as it felt those wheels, trying to jump off, trying to go faster…trying, trying, trying – and ultimately getting tangled up. Flesh and metal had merged together. Bob the Bike was dead. I was left with bits of his shattered metal body cut into my skin, his gear shift ripped into my stomach.
I never saw what that driver looked like. He didn’t drive away from the scene, but he didn’t walk back to see if I was okay, how hurt I was. I guess he didn’t want to see the fruits of his recklessness. To be fair, I didn’t look at myself either, I couldn’t look down at where the tires had made contact with my body.
I lay there waiting for something to change, to get better or to get worse. I waited for there to be a break in the silence that kept ringing in my ears. I remember looking up as the early morning sky went from gray to a pale, pale blue – the clouds looked as if they were whipped out of cotton candy.
I screamed out for someone to call my mother. If my mom was there then she would be able to fix it. As soon as she was notified, all of this would be taken back. This could be undone, because this was not reality. Reality was the fact that I had to get back to my apartment and iron my button-down shirt for the day. Reality was that I had a big day at work, and that I was nervous about getting really sweaty in my new suit. Reality was not that I was on the precipice of losing my life – that was not what was happening. I refused to close my eyes.
The initial shock of impact began to wear off and my body reacted with crushing pain. It was unlike anything I could have imagined I would ever have the misfortune of feeling. I was confused by it, I couldn’t believe there could be a sensation so horrible and intense that would continue to radiate out of my body – usually the pain of dropping something on your foot, or running your knee into a door will fade a little. This excruciating pain stayed right where it was, doing relay races up and down the length of my body. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to stop it. I couldn’t shake it off, or massage it, or walk to a place that I thought would somehow give me relief. I had no choice but to just lie there trying not to drown in this crushing pain.
A young woman who was about my age came over to me and said she would call my mom. She asked me if I knew her phone number. I did, I remembered it as a song that my mom had taught my brothers and sisters and me to help us learn all of the numbers in a row. The young woman who was calling my mom had been in the black Mazda that was behind the truck. Her boyfriend had been driving. He was directing traffic around me, around the accident scene. They were saving me.
He put up orange cones, and the flares were lit around me. Everything changed. I watched as this woman took the responsibility of calling a perfect stranger’s mother and telling her that she had just watched her daughter’s body be crushed by an eighteen-wheel truck. I heard her say that her name was Gisele; she sounded scared. Her voice shook as she told my family’s answering machine that I had been in an accident, and that whoever got this should call her back as soon as possible.
I knew then that I was broken. My mom wasn’t in the house, she had been called and nothing was better. Plus, the girl who called was frightened – she couldn’t even feign calm as she left that message. I was stricken with terror but I couldn’t give in to it. I thought that if I let myself fall into it, fall into the fear, the loneliness, the hurt, I would get lost. I had no cell phone, no ID and no underwear; if I didn’t stay conscious I would become a whorish Jane Doe who rode a bicycle. I couldn’t go out like that.
My one job was to stay awake. I needed to stay awake. If I fell asleep I would die. I couldn’t die.
My brain kept whirring as I lay on that Brooklyn street: what do these people need to know, what do I need to say?
“I can move my toes and my fingers – if I pass out, tell the paramedics I’m not paralyzed.” I spoke with the authority of someone who actually knew what they were talking about, not a theater major who could barely put on her own band-aid. Thank God for all of those TV movies I watched – you know, where someone gets into an accident and then they freak out and say, “I can’t move my legs, I CAN’T MOVE MY LEGS.” Well, I couldn’t move my legs either, but I could move my toes and I knew that counted for something.
“Please, can you hold my hand?” I asked the young woman who had called my mother. “I’m scared.” I didn’t want to say it. I wanted to be strong and funny and to let this just roll off me, I wanted to believe that this wasn’t a big deal – that I could put a band-aid on this one, all by myself. But after telling another person I was frightened, it became clear to me that I wasn’t tough enough to do this on my own. My mom wasn’t there and I was surrounded by strangers – so I did what made me feel like I was close to my family, that it was right before bedtime, or at church: I began to pray.
I asked Gisele, the stranger holding my hand, if she would pray with me. Without knowing if she was Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim – I began to pray the Hail Mary. I prayed to Mary to not let me die, I didn’t want to die.
“Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” My voice usually quivered at the hour of death part when I said this prayer out loud – this time it felt as if the words were shaking my entire body. Was this it? Seriously? Was I going to die because of a wrong turn on a fucking bike ride?
I have always had this feeling I would die young. When I was a little kid I would watch the 5 o’clock news, and whenever there was a news report about a young girl who had everything to live for, killed in a freak accident, I would think, “That’s going to be me in about ten years.” Then I would think about what my news report was going to be like. I wondered what they would say about me in the report, would they talk about my family, my friends or would the focus be on who I was as an athlete? I hoped they used good pictures. Because of my need to plan everything I told my parents the song I would like to have played at my funeral – Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel. They would tell me how morbid I was, and that it was wrong to talk like that. I understood what they were saying, but part of me just wanted everyone to be prepared, plus that song would be killer as a procession.
As I held desperately on to the hand of my new best friend, a Hispanic man in kaki cargo shorts, a plaid short-sleeved shirt, and a New York Yankees hat stepped out of his Toyota Camry and walked towards my spot on the asphalt.
With no hesitation he slipped his rough hand into mine, looked into my eyes, and with a Hispanic accent and a confident tone said, “Listen to me, I am a pastor – I have spoken to God and he has told me you are not going to die today. Okay?”
I stared up at him and I needed for him to be right. I wanted him to be my prophet. “Do you promise?” I asked with the sincerity of a six-year-old. “Yes,” he promised. If I could have lifted my hand, I would have made him pinky swear.
He took Gisele’s hand and said, “Let us say the Lord’s prayer,” and I said the Our Father with my new congregation of three. I realize now that I have never said the Our Father with such fear – I really prayed that God would forgive me my trespasses! I trespassed a lot. Like the time in third grade when I broke my date to the SCA fair with Tom Fulgeri. I did it on the phone, and I let Shauna Phillips listen in on another extension, and then while he was still on the phone she started to laugh at him. I knew that it was mean, but I wanted to be cool more than I wanted to be nice. I hoped God forgave me for that one. I also hoped that God didn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on underage drinking as a sin, because then I was really screwed. I didn’t truly feel bad about doing it, and as an underage youth I did it all the time. I prayed for God to know that I didn’t want to die, that I didn’t want to go to hell, that I didn’t want to even go to heaven for that matter. I just wanted out of this situation. But the fact that my legs weren’t working, and my lack of a flux capacitor to turn back time left that idea totally screwed. So I just made sure I didn’t close my eyes.
The only thing I could control right now was my eyes, they were the only thing that weren’t hurting. I kept them open for my mother, for my father, for my sister, for my brothers, for my family, for my boyfriend, for my friends – I knew if I closed them I would be giving up not only on ever seeing all those people again, but on seeing anything else in my life. I would never see a little kid with an ice cream cone, or a leaf blowing like a confused butterfly in the wind. If I closed my eyes, I would never again see the way that someone looks right after you hug them. If I closed my eyes, then there was the possibility that I would be in darkness forever, so I stared unblinking into the sunlight, fearfully gulping up as much light as I could. Plus, if God was going to take me, I wanted to see Him coming.
When the police arrived, I felt a wave of relief, “They are going to take care of me,” I thought. “This will be okay, the police are here.” I had always had a lot of respect and love for the police. They did what I couldn’t do – fight bad guys, save lives, kick bad peoples’ asses. In my home town I always waved at the police. I was polite when they found me doing things I shouldn’t have been doing at the town docks, and after 9/11, out of nowhere, I found myself hugging a policeman just to say thank you. I had two uncles who were cops, and I loved them very much. They were strong, they were funny, and they made me feel safe and protected whenever they were around.
These policemen were not the same kind of men as my uncles – there wasn’t any warmth or care in their eyes and that made me feel like I wasn’t even there. When they saw me, it wasn’t exactly disdain that crossed their faces – it was almost like apathy. Of all of the emotions that I thought my situation would evoke, apathy was the last thing I had expected. I wanted them to like me, to care about me. I tried to fashion a joke about the fact that my ass was half exposed due to my lack of undergarments. When the officers didn’t even crack a smile, I knew I was more injured than I had thought – because jokes about exposed bottoms are really funny, and if people aren’t entertained by them then something must be seriously wrong.
After my awesome joke went bust, a policeman with a mustache leaned over me and told me I was going to be okay. I didn’t believe him. I asked him if he had morphine, he said no. I asked him where the ambulance was, he said on its way. I asked if it could come any faster because I was hurting a lot. I started to cry then. Big fat tears slid down my face, I tried not to sob for fear that it would hurt my belly even more. Instead, I turned my head to the left and kept my arms out wide and let the tears fall from my right eye over my nose to my left eye then onto the pavement.
When I heard the ambulance sirens, I freaked out because I knew that when they came and picked me up I was going to go to the hospital and then everything was going to get real. The entire time I was lying plastered to the street, I went from knowing that this was really happening, to swearing that this was some sort of video game dream. The ambulance sirens made it clear that I was not in a video game and that this was not a dream— I was going to leave this spot on the gravel and I needed to do what I could to save myself from dying. My biggest fear was that the ambulance was going to take me to Kings County General Hospital. It’s one of Brooklyn’s hospitals – probably one of the closer ones, but I didn’t want close – I wanted good. My friend Maribeth was a nurse and she had told me before about patient rights, that when you are in an emergency situation you are still in control of what you want to happen. They can’t make you go to a hospital that you don’t want to go to. Kings County made me feel unsafe. A friend had gone there after she had broken her leg, and didn’t get seen by a doctor for eight hours. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I know that my injuries couldn’t wait that long. Plus, I had heard a dirty hipster rumor that they wouldn’t admit people like me, they would just move me to another hospital. There are plenty of terrible ways to die, but I think that one of them would definitely have to be dying because you got rejected from a hospital.
It isn’t clear to me how I got on the gurney, but I do know that they put that neck brace thing on me, and that there was screaming. When I was secured in the ambulance, something over took me, and I started to speak in a voice that didn’t sound like my own, “Excuse me sir, I refuse to go to that hospital, I need to go to a hospital that has a good trauma center. Will you take me there?” It was as if my brain was on auto pilot – it was doing what needed to be done to keep me alive. The EMT said, “Yes, we can take you there because you requested it, but it will us longer to get there than it would to get to Kings County.” I said, “Sir, I don’t care, I need to go to a place where they can fix me.”
I realized that I sound like a snob, but I was being honest and if there is ever a time to be a total bitch I think being strapped to a gurney in an ambulance with tire tracks someplace on your body is one of those times.
The driver and the other EMT argued about where was the best place to go for my injuries, while another guy kept asking me questions. Instead of answering I just begged for morphine. I am not sure why I thought that every person in a uniform was just carrying morphine with them, as though they had an IV drip right underneath their badge. He looked at me and said, “We can’t give you anything or else the medical staff won’t know how much pain you are in – they need to know.”
“Can’t we just tell them that I am in a lot of pain. I mean A LOT?”
He shook his head no.
I was not liking him.
He continued to ask me questions and try to give me oxygen, which did nothing except irritate me. Why would one put the equivalent of a plastic wrap around my face and then ask me what my address is? Every time he would ask me a question, I would take off the mask to answer it, and then he would put it back on me; it would have been comical if I hadn’t felt like killing the man. I officially did not like this dude. He gave me no morphine, made me no promises of survival, and had cut off one of my favorite sorority t-shirts. Did he not know that I would have voluntarily taken it off if he had just asked nicely? Despite my protesting, the bastard cut the t-shirt off, and then he cut off my shorts. I contemplated giving him a breakdown on my lack of panties but deemed him unworthy of the joke.
My sassiness dissipated when my clothes were cut away and I felt the cold air on my exposed body. I couldn’t fathom that it would be possible to feel more vulnerable and scared than I had been feeling just a few minutes before, but my nakedness in front of a person who didn’t love me made me aware of the fact that I was as fragile as tracing paper. I didn’t know then, that this was only the first time in what was going to be many, many times that I was naked in front of a total stranger.
Mr. EMT continued to ask me questions, my address, phone number, my parents’ names, my parents’ address, where I worked, my social security number, etc. The geniuses in the front of the ambulance not only hit every pothole in Brooklyn, but they also got lost. And when I say lost, I don’t mean like I took a wrong turn here, I mean the driver got out of the car and asked someone which way to the hospital. If it wasn’t so totally inappropriate, I am sure that I would have uttered something about wanting to kill myself.
Due to the fact that we were lost, Mr. EMT asked me all of the same questions again, and I realized that this was to make sure that I would stay awake. Finally I let him know that I would prefer to not tell him my social security number again and that there was no way in hell I was going to fall asleep or pass out. I was way too scared to do that. I had still only closed my eyes about forty times. I knew this because I had been counting.
I remember there was a red awning over the door that led into the emergency room. The awning made it look like I wasn’t really at a hospital, it looked more like the entrance to a catering hall. The EMT from the front of the ambulance was the one who was talking to me now. He had a brown mustache. I was on the gurney, and he told me I was going into the emergency room and that they were going to take care of me there. I wasn’t convinced. I had no clue where I was, I was afraid of dying, my body ached in ways that I never knew were possible, and I was not going to trust anyone. My eyes were still open.
When I was wheeled into the emergency room the doctors and nurses were ready for me. There was a flurry of activity, everyone poking and prodding and loudly talking. There had to be at least twenty people around me, including a nurse in what looked like theme scrubs. You know the kind that have teddy bears getting their temperature taken. I felt pretty angry about it – I mean we’re in an Emergency Room, shouldn’t she be wearing something a little more serious? The blue scrubs would have been perfect, you know the kind that say, “You are in good hands, I am a professional,” not “Do you have a tummy ache?”
Everyone around me started asking me questions:
“Are you allergic to anything, hon?”
No, no, I am not, ma’am.
“I am going to give you a shot in your arm.”
Okay, sir, may I have morphine?
“You are going to be getting an IV now, okay?”
Is my mom here?
“What is your name, sweetheart?”
Katharine McKenna, ma’am, but please call me Katie – what is your name?
Dr. Russell, I don’t want to die okay? Could you please check me to see if there is any internal bleeding, please.
“We will, Katie, you don’t even need to say please.”
Dr. Russell, can you promise that I won’t die?
“I can’t do that Katie, but we will do our very best to save you – okay?”
She couldn’t tell me that I was going to live, Oh My God. I could really die, holy shit, I might die. She just told me this could be it. My parents, my family, my boyfriend, my friends, I don’t get to say good-bye??? I can’t keep my eyes open by myself forever.
“We are going to put you under anesthesia and take you to surgery now, okay?”
“Okay, Dr. Russell, tell my mom and dad that I love them, and tell my brothers and my sister too – my friends, please tell my friends that I love them okay. Please. My boyfriend, please tell my boyfriend that I am sorry about the fight and that I love him, and I am sorry. Please don’t let me die. I am so scared.”
I felt her hand on my head, I looked around at all of the people around me and said thank you (at least I had manners with the doctors). There was another shot in my arm, and my mouth and nose were covered by something plastic as I said the Our Father again and begged God not to take me away. I lost my choice then. I struggled to keep my eyes open, but it wasn’t up to me anymore. I stared into the halogen light above my gurney and then let my eyes close, and it hurt.
Now, I look back at all of the times I’ve used the words “I may just die” in my thought process and my general vernacular. I remember one night after four too many shots of warm tequila at my local college bar, I had woken up the next morning sure that I was going to die. Or after the first time I told a boy that I loved him, and he said nothing in return – I was sure I was going to die of embarrassment. This time I closed my eyes and thought I was going to die because my body had just been broken by a huge motor vehicle. Because it turns out that people are more likely to die from a wrong turn by a truck than from the embarrassment of unrequited love. Until this moment I had thought the two were on an equal footing. Nothing made sense. The definitions of words I had used a million times now had a different meaning, a meaning that was deeper and darker and more permanent. This was when my heart broke. I was lost.
As I waited for the fog of anthestia to envelop me, my mind started racing, trying to think as much as it could before my consciousness vanished. My thoughts flew through my brain like a scroll of words that was running across the bottom of a screen. I was struggling to wrap my head around what had happened. My thought process was a series of questions I asked out loud and then attempted to answer: There is no way that this is happening, right? There is no way I can survive—there is just no way. But wait, how am I still awake? How come I’m able to talk? I’m not brain damaged, how did that happen? I wasn’t wearing a helmet, and I’m not brain damaged. I could live. No, no, there is no way—no one has eight wheels of a truck run over their body and live. It just doesn’t happen.
It was just so out of the realm of anything I would have imagined for myself. I should be dead, but I am not yet. Does that mean I am going to live? Or am I one of those people who goes into the hospital and dies while everyone is in the waiting room? Fuck that, I’m NOT going to die. Holy shit, I’m going to die.
I willed myself to live, and tried to accept the fact that I wouldn’t. There wasn’t a complete flashback of what my life was like, or everything that I had done—all I could really think about was the fact that I wouldn’t get to see any more of my life. I didn’t feel badly about the way that I had lived, I just wanted more.