Well, it’s been two hours since my last post and my family has not arrived home and I am still awake so I figured I’d better spew more crass ramblings about some random subject. This post deals with a crash. My crash. I just saw the movie “The Descendants” with George Clooney. Excellent movie, but I’m not here to write a review. It’s relevant here only because the movie centers around a husband whose wife suffers a boating accident and falls into a coma. I was immediately reminded of my encounter with an SUV 9 months ago.
I’ve told the story before, but never the effects of the incident. If you’re not familiar with the story, I’ll provide a very brief recap…my head gots runs overses…yeesh, lingering effects. On April 2, 2011, I had a four hour bike ride to complete as part of my neverending training for Ironman Texas. Typically, I would ride early, early in the morning (3-7am or 5-9am) to avoid missing any significant time with my family and, frankly, to get it over with. Hundreds of years and we still don’t have a comfortable bike seat? Anyway, the bulk of the ride I completed up and down Highway 6, which has a huge shoulder. Now, cars are still going 60mph, but I feel slightly more comfortable there than riding on Memorial Drive. That said, I had to take Memorial Drive very briefly towards the end of my ride. 3pm on a Sunday means Memorial is fairly busy so, thinking I was being smart and safe, I decided to take the sidewalk. As I turned onto the sidewalk, I put it in a lower gear and kind of coasted towards home. The first intersection I came to (Turkey Creek Drive), which is really just a side street with a stop sign, is where the crash happened. I noticed a car pulling up to the stop sign. It looked to me like the car was performing a rolling stop and so I applied my brakes and decided to wait for the car to turn. Well, the car stopped. I assumed it was because 1) of the dozens of cars on Memorial streaming in front of her; and 2) she saw me on the sidewalk (not the case). So, I stopped applying the brakes and pedaled towards the intersection. About 10 feet before I crossed, the car began crawling forward and stopped, by that time blocking the sidewalk. Trying to avoid barreling into the car, I slammed on my brakes and was actually able to keep from hitting her car, but anyone familiar with physics knows that while the bike may have stopped, my body did not. My shoes unclipped and I flew over the handle bars. I put my hands out and winced as I watched and felt them scrape and skid across the pavement next to the car. I remember sitting there for a moment and, after realizing I was ok, thinking “fuck…this is going to hurt in the morning and what the hell happened to my bike?” I did not realize two things 1) my head was directly in front of the car’s tire; and 2) the driver of the vehicle had not ever and in fact still hadn’t seen me or my bike. As I sat there mentally complaining to myself on how inconvenient palm scrapes are, I felt a throbbing and a pressure in/on my head. I then felt my head begin to slowly compress. I still, briefly, did not realize what was happening. I assumed the adrenaline was wearing off and my body’s pain sensors were making me aware that I was also going to have a headache tomorrow. I then heard the other tires on the car crawling across the gravel and I realized the car was moving forward and my head was being pulled under her tire.
Now, what happened next is where I may lose a lot of people mostly because it’s so cliche and I wish I had a better way to describe it, but, I don’t. My life flashed before my eyes. At least that just sounds better and more relatable than “as I came close to death and my brain was robbed of oxygen, the synapses misfired…pulling information at random stored in brain; some memories of past experiences, dreams, yearnings or anything other information ever stored by my brain.” It really was like a summary of my life from beginning to end. I had visions of my childhood, when my parents were divorced, graduating from middle school, college, law school, my parents’ deaths, my marriage, a random run, meeting Adryan, marrying Adryan and then my kids. My last thought was my kids. I remember thinking “Rowan and my new one (Adryan was still pregnant with Carys). This can’t happen. I haven’t taught them everything…I haven’t spent enough time with Adryan.” Whether you believe it or not, that all happened in probably 2-5 seconds and I remember every moment, every thought and with that last thought I pushed my face and skull into the pavement and dragged and pulled away from the wheel as hard as I could. I felt the helmet strap snap and my head pull away just before hearing the car roll over my helmet. I staggered around and slammed my hands on the hood of the car as I saw her start to pull away…she still hadn’t noticed anything. When she saw my face dripping with blood, she stopped. After that, it gets boring…for me anyway. People stopped to help, firemen and paramedics showed up and they ushered me to the ER where I got stitched up pretty quickly.
To say it was a life changing experience is an understatement. I still hesitate to take my bike out onto the roadways. I remember every second of the bike ride during Ironman Texas was fraught with phantom car engines and flashes of my head lying against the pavement sure that at every turn some car was going to pull out and finish the job. For about 2-3 months after the incident, every single time I closed my eyes to sleep, I saw myself on the ground under her car. I felt my head compressing. I wondered what my kids’ lives would be like without me. God still wants me here for some reason. Some people ask “then why the hell are you still doing triathlons…didn’t that put things in perspective?” Well, yes, but not in that way and maybe that’s silly. My parents died fairly young and ever since then I’ve always been readily aware that we are not here long and you need to accomplish things while you can. I did not need this incident to make me aware of that. What it did was make me aware of what I have. I think I was shown all the things I’ve been given. A brief summary of my life to say “look how easy and fortunate your life has been” and also a reminder of things to come, i.e. quit fucking around and make things better for YOUR kids. Don’t just want to be better, actually BE better. Be a better husband, father, attorney, triathlete, pianist, etc. Son of bitch that’s a cheesy, maudlin, horribly lachrymose post, but I do not know another way to describe it. It was a life changer, alright, fuck it and while I’m sure completely necessary for the above described and many other reasons, I hope it never happens again and is why Rowan will be wearing a helmet on her tricycle even in the grass next to our driveway.