“It’s easy to forgive. Forgiveness is a complete unification of mind and heart. Forgiveness is the easy part. Forgetting–is pulling a million splinters from the brain.” JSM
I still think about her from time to time. Usually by accident.
It’s always a fleeting moment. Something at work may have triggered it. Perhaps a conversation with a co-worker, or a run in with someone at the grocery store. Television maybe. Only a glimpse is provided though.
Every now and again her face appears, then dissipates from view just as fast. It catches me off guard and I never expect it.
“Whoa… where did that come from? She’s the LAST thing you should be thinking about.”
A quick shake of the head to clear the fog, and life moves on.
As though her image is frozen in time what appears to me is a black and white photograph. I can’t recall much detail, but I know it’s her. A ghostly outline on a hazy gray background.
On the day I snapped the mental photo of her, I remembered each sound around me. The yelling and escalated conversations, anger, the tears, the nausea, stress, despair, chaos and in regards to my level of comfort, it was too much to handle. I eventually had to turn my back and walk away from the whole thing.
The only way for me to keep sane.
My mind has two specific defense mechanisms. I will react in one of two ways when provided with situations which I feel are too big for my britches; or if I get backed into a corner.
One defense is what I have coined, “the light switch” and the other, “the wall”. The wall is the more extreme of the two.
The wall is just that. For moments of time in my history, (years ago) I built high walls around myself. A protective shield. A barrier designed for intentional isolation. No one gets in, I stay put, and in the wake of my actions I’ll burn needed bridges if necessary. I break the wall down when ready.
The light switch is the most common.
The switch is always in “on” mode. The light is always glowing and as bright as possible.
During needed moments I flip the switch down. I change my entire personality, reverse my thinking 180 degrees, turn off the lights and attempt to be as Vulcan as possible. Zero emotion. I emote nothing. Almost robotic.
“Priorities, responsibility, work. Three basic necessities for survival; water, shelter, food.”
High stress situations will force the light switch. It’s served me well over the years… considering the multiple circumstances throughout this journey. At times I have come to rely on it.
I’m not sure how fast the car was moving, when it hit us head on, but if I were to venture a guess I’d estimate 45mph. The vehicle I was in was perhaps slowed down to twenty. It was a good collision.
I say “good” as if I was comparing it to an episode of Mythbusters where they test impact and velocity.
When the bumpers collided, the back tires were pulled from the ground and the SUV bounced when the tires returned to the surface. The front ends were caved in and steam poured out from under crumpled hoods. The air bags in the front deployed from their compartments.
I remember pulling my arms away from my face during the impact, but not by choice. The impact of two vehicles smashing together moves your body around, regardless. First, you lurch forward against the seatbelt and your head stretches down to the chest. If you’re my height, there’s a decent chance you may hit the seat in front of you. The body flings back into the cushion, snapping the head back, the body flails around momentarily within the available space and my cheek was smashed into the window. I felt lucky by removing my glasses first.
A spidery fracture crept across the glass and once the two cars came to a complete stop, I ripped off the seatbelt, opened my door, fell out of the car, and scooped up a handful of fresh snow from the street.
I packed it into a loose ball and smeared the cold on the growing welt below my eye, and placed my backside down on the ground right where I was. I looked to my left and a chunk of black plastic debris was sitting in the snow beside me.
Some of the next hour or so, was a complete blur. Images. As though the voices around me were moving away, or dulled down.
The couple who ran into the caravan were elderly. The passenger was the husband.
While forced to wait for the authorities and the emergency vehicles, exchanging information, and feeling nothing but utter hopelessness, I developed the “light switch”. It was a slow evolution for the first couple of days, but the genesis of my primary defense mechanism started during this hour.
The woman driving refused to release her grip from the steering wheel, keeping her eyes on the wreck before her; white knuckled and shaking. Members of the caravan continued to instruct the couple, “No. Just stay put. Wait for the ambulance and police. Hold tight. Help is coming.”
And stay put is exactly what they did, until a second circus within the same blizzard happened all around us.
The Canadian authorities treated us well that night. They provided transportation for travelers to nearby medical facilities and all who incurred injury were treated, and then additional transportation was offered to the designated hotels near the convention center. Kudos and thanks for helping us through the incident.
Because of the blizzard, their arrival was not as expedient as we wished, but within that hour the road was once again covered with vehicles.
The medical team opened the door to the woman’s car and aided her onto the street, a gurney nearby, and at that moment of helping she went into immediate shock and collapsed into waiting arms.
My mind snapped a photo of her that night. The look on her face of sheer terror and instant panic. Her nearby husband grasping her hand and seeing him mouth the words, “It’ll be alright. I know, I know. I’m scared too.” I wonder to this very day if she survived that night. Her image is conjured from time to time.
A large man covered my view of the woman and her saddened counterpart.
“Folks, everyone gather round. We’re going to have to get you where you need to go now. Who needs to go where?”
“Officer, what’s wrong with the woman?”
“She went into shock?”
“Will she be alright?”
“We can hope so. She’s in good hands. Let’s get the travelers to the hospital and who needs to go to the convention center?”
Luggage corralled, separated into different groups, and divvied up again, BizarroTech refused to let go. At one point it was insisted that everything comes to an end tonight. That moment it was time to return home and be done. Walking was even provided as an option if necessary.
“Don’t worry, Jeremy. As soon as we’re done, you’ll get a ride home. Almost there. Gill is going to want to hear all about this. Can’t wait for you to meet him. Wonderful man. Wonderful man.”
The light switch twitched when I pondered for a moment that I was being kidnapped.