"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
a story about a car: sea change ii
the first section of this story is here.
there are discontinuous images in my memory of the moments that followed. trying to recall it all in detail is like flipping through a pile of snapshots that have been dropped and scattered across the table top. they tell the tale, but not linearly. there are facts that only became known later; in the absence of these bits of knowlege, our ignorance bred both fear and fury.
there is the smell of the deflating airbags, the sight of angel back against her seat, fighting for breath but otherwise appearing unhurt.
checking the backseat for the dog, who is shaking uncontrollably, but that means he's alive.
looking through the back window, grateful to see both lanes of traffic stopped, terrified of being plowed into from behind.
calling 911 on the cell phone. the operator telling me the accident has already been reported. how much time could have possibly passed?
angel telling me she can't breath. reaching past her to throw her door open.
asking a stranger to take the dog to the shoulder.
the thin trail of blood snaking from angel's nostrils.
the police, emt, fire engines.
realizing the station wagon we hit is gone. realizing the impact threw it another 50 yards done the turnpike.
trying to get angel out of the car.
her screaming in pain when we moved her.
firemen tearing the door from the hinges.
four of us carrying her out of the car in a sitting position so she can fight for breath.
the ambulance leaving. not being allowed in.
the police asking questions. trying to stay calm and answer. wanting to chase after the ambulance.
fire trucks leaving.
the police refusing to take me to the hospital after angel. because i have a dog with me.
the tow truck.
asking emt, fire fighters, police to take me to the hospital. no, not with the dog.
the last fire fighter, a fire chief, telling me to grab my dog and get in his truck.
a trip to the hospital that took forever.
she's in emergency. they'll let me know. no, the dog cannot come in.
there is no where for the dog.
she's being examined. she's been sedated. for the pain.
the fire chief. he'll take the dog. here's his number. the dog can stay at the firehouse.
angel on the gurney. still. no blood. thinking, she must be ok.
watching them wheel her to x-ray.
thinking that this was the last damned trip we'd had to make. the last one.
calling mom and dad. not understanding why they won't come when i tell them what has happened. they are 100 miles away. it is night. i am alone and my angel is unconscious. but the cell phone is full of static. they can't hear me. they think angel has broken her wrist.
i'm saying 'ribs,' the doctors think she broke her ribs.
the doctor coming back from x-ray. with the news.
yes, she has broken her ribs, on her left side.
all of them.
angel has almost no body fat. at less than 100 pounds, there was no cushion to absorb the impact.
her body has exploded from the inside out. she is bleeding to death internally.
calling eldest stepdaughter for permission to have the emergency operation. having to explain everything.
calling mom and dad back. telling them 'pray.' this time the connection is clear. they are coming.
waiting for the trauma operating room to be available. waiting for the 'specialist' to arrive, to assist.
a plastic bag with her clothes and jewelry.
trauma is ready. kissing her.
it is a busy night in the emergency room. the flash flood caused over a dozen accidents in a ten mile radius of ours. one of them has already been fatal. by morning, a second one will be, too.
the waiting room. the family of the man who had a cardiac in the restaurant. he will survive.
the family of the woman who slipped and fell down the stairs. she will die in the emergency room.
good god, people really die here. it can happen.
mom and dad arrive at 1 in the morning. they demonstrate once more why they are the best parents in the world.
a nurse arrives, brings us upstairs to the trauma waiting area.
the doctor returns from the operating room. she will survive.
he and his team have reassembled the blendered jigsaw inside my angel.
she is small, and she is not a teenager. she will take a very long time to heal.
i don't care. i will be there.
she will be there.