June 3, 2005 started out like any other day. A coworker and I were attending a training class that day and would be making the 4 hour trek home later that evening. We had arrived at our training conference the night before and spent some time on the beach (yes, my job paid for a trip to the beach, lol!). After a long day, we started on our way. Since we had taken my vehicle, I volunteered to drive. I liked to drive anyway. We were nearly home, less than 15 minutes away in fact, when I saw headlights in my lane and jerked the wheel to the right. That is the last thing I remember clearly. My coworker said I screamed...but all I can remember is trying to get out of the way. In a haze, I remember feeling like I was hanging upside down and sometime later I remember being strapped down, not able to move my head. But i could still see my left leg. It was in traction. It was then that I knew how serious all "this" was. But, I still didn't know exactly what "this" was. I vaguely remember being put into an MRI machine and I remember seeing my boyfriend's mom just before being wheeled down a very bright hallway. I woke up late in the afternoon on June 4 with a tube down my throat. The nurses removed the tube and began asking me if I remembered what happened. From somewhere near me I hear Patrick's voice. I didn't remember what happened at that point, but it suddenly came rushing back to me. The first thing out of my mouth was, "Where is Elaine (my coworker)?" They all told me she was fine. Treated for scrapes and bruises and released. I, however was not so lucky. I had sustained severe orthopaedic injuries on the left side of my body. My femur was broken just above the knee, a butterfly fracture. My lower left arm was shattered, my doctor was not sure he was going to be able to save it, and my humerus was also broken. I also sustained a broken right wrist and many lacerations. I was lucky not to have a head injury or internal injuries. Still, I was devastated. My doctor, the wonderful man that he was, told me I wouldn't walk again for at least 2 months, and would spend the greater portion of the next 6 months in a wheelchair. He also said he would try his best to fix my left arm, but that nothing was guaranteed. He also explained to me that I was now the proud new owner of orthopaedic implants, a rod in my left leg and plates and screws in my left arm, that would likely remain there for the rest of my life. Two days later I underwent surgery again. The doctor was a miracle man and put together the puzzle that was my left arm.
I spent 2 weeks in ICU, 2 months in the hospital, 4 months living at my aunt's house (she has a handicapped accessible house), 6 months in a wheelchair, endured 5 separate surgeries and 2 years of physical therapy. Turns out that I was hit head on by a tractor trailer. It was estimated that he was driving 65mph on a 55mph road, plus it was raining. The driver finally admitted he hadn't been paying enough attention and was laughing at a joke when he hit me. He was well over 8 feet into my lane and I had no chance of missing him. My life was spared that day, why, I don't know. If you are sensitive, please stop reading now because I am about to post some pictures. They aren't pretty, but I promise I won't post the really nasty ones. These are only pictures of the vehicles, no people.
|1995 Kenworth tractor|
|The accident ripped off the front drive axle|
|My 2001 Ford Escape...or what's left of it|
|This car saved my life...I honestly shouldn't be alive.|
Throughout all of this, Patrick never left my side. He was there with me in the hospital as much as possible. Since we weren't married, he couldn't use his own sick leave to stay with me, so he took vacation days. He did things for me that I never had to ask him to do and did it without complaints. He helped me bathe, he helped me to the bathroom, helped me with my therapy. His loyalty never wavered. I really did have an epiphany...I realized just how much I loved this man. We had been together for 4 years prior to the accident and I think we took each other for granted. Not in a bad way, just that we were very comfortable together and never felt the need to go the next step. But after seeing all he sacrificed for me, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. The way he "proposed" is so Patrick. We were heading back to my aunt's house after spending the day at my aunt and uncle's river lot when he says, "So when are we getting married?" We told our parents about our engagement over the next week.
We tossed around several ideas for our wedding. We thought about having a destination wedding in Hawaii, eloping to Las Vegas. But, eventually we settled on a small, outdoor wedding with just immediate family. We just didn't know when. Finally, I said, "What about June 3? Its certainly a day we will never forget. It has a lot of meaning, to me especially." And, it was set.
On June 3, 2006 I walked down the aisle to marry my best friend. I WALKED! Just a year ago I had thought this feat impossible, but, I walked. I walked alone, no one to help me, a statement in its own right. Here I was, beginning a new life with the most wonderful man. He grinned at me as I walked toward him.
|Concentration...don't want to trip of course!|
My first time in heels since the accident.
|Can you tell this is a staged kiss?|
|My bouquet, with the addition of wild flowers from my nieces|
|The beginning of our adventures as Mr and Mrs|
I really did marry my best friend that day, in a ceremony that was just right for us. We chose to have a very small, intimate wedding with just our parents and people who were instrumental in helping us survive the prior year. The wedding was a perfect end to a rough year, and the perfect beginning to a new life together.
A card that I got in the mail from my in laws really says it all: "Marriage is a funny thing...right when you think you have it all figured out, something happens to make it grow and change and you get to figure it out all over again. Laugh or not, it keeps things interesting. Then, one day it occurs to you that the "figuring out" is what makes marriage so good. Working together, looking forward in the same direction, bumping into roadblocks and finding a way around--sometimes feeling like everything is trying to knock you off course--it's that very stuff that makes a relationship stronger. Funny...frustrating...crazy...wonderful...and uniquely yours."
I don't necessarily believe in soul mates, but I honestly believe I have met the man with whom my soul loves. There is no question about how much I love this man. I would give my life if I knew it would save his. In tragedy, we have grown closer, stronger. Losing Addie has strengthened the bond we have. He has stayed by my side, no matter how bitchy, moody, nasty or just plain rude I am. And I know I haven't been the easiest person to live with. I am so glad to have found him.
So, on this day of anniversaries, I can honestly say I am thankful. Although my life has been a rocky road, and I've asked myself more than once, "Why me?", I can honestly say I am so very grateful. I am grateful to be alive, grateful to have met and married Patrick, and grateful for the triumphs and tragedies we have endured together. Most of all, I am grateful for the family we have created, even if that family isn't physically together. Five years together and many more to come...love really knows no boundaries and can truly conquer all.