One of the very interesting things with memory is that to create and store a memory you must review regularly. Starting especially within the initial days following an event. So if something disrupts this process, especially when it’s something high adrenaline and stressful, the memories preceding it are easily forgotten. Which is how it’s so hard for me to piece together the prior week of dates out with my honey aka the guy from the bar.
That Monday (it was the 22nd of January), I woke up at my new boyfriend’s apartment early. We lived all of a ten minute walk away from each other so I dashed home where I dressed for work. I must have strapped my newish silver metallic bag to the back of my bike because it was returned to me later. I think I wore black pants and a white blouse, I definitely wore my long brown leather jacket, three squiggly little cheapo bangles, and a helmet. And then I got on my bike to ride to work.
I remember crossing onto Market Street, joining the bike lane. I also remember waiting at the red light on Octavia, in front of the freeway on ramp. Then the light changed green.
Next I remember pieces of a moment. At this point I’m not certain how real they are because it’s been eight years. But so the white truck to the left of me decided to make an illegal right hand turn onto the freeway.
I remember my surprise at the first impact. This “oh shit” feeling where I thought I was just going to lose my balance. Then the moment where I knew the situation was worse than that. Next there were people standing over me and I was both terrified and embarrassed to be laid out in the middle of the street blocking traffic. I wanted desperately to get up and go to work. I had an appointment! I had to leave. But they wouldn’t let me.
Most specifically there was a man. A very kind man with a goatee. A complete stranger who asked for phone numbers, he told me everything would be okay. And then he waited with me. I still don’t know his name.
Apparently the first phone number I remembered was my dad’s office number from when I was a little girl.
I sort of remember being in the ambulance. I know I was in immense pain, but when you aren’t in pain you sort of forget what pain is like. And then I have flashes of the emergency room. Being propped against a metal slab. My mom rushing in. The doctors saying I’d need a catheter and I started screaming. What? Catheters scare me. According to my mom that was when she knew that I’d be okay. At some point I had X-Rays, CAT scans, chest tubes inserted both in my right and left lungs, and a neck brace.
The rear tires of the pick-up truck (Ford F-450 bearing cement- that’s the punchline of this story) had crossed my torso and crushed it. Pretty much every rib broke, multiple times, puncturing both lungs. I should have died. Without a helmet I would have already been dead. There’s more to my injuries but the story telling machine is running out of steam.
“But what about your honey?” You may be asking. He came to visit me twice in the hospital. He met my parents while there. Then I broke up with him, because I couldn’t continue. I was hospitalized for just under a month, then I moved in with my mom so she could care for me. I spent a year of my life on a painkiller cocktail which left me numbed to pain and other feelings. My honey hung in there though, texting me (not too much, not too little) until finally we returned to slowly dating. It wasn’t until December that we became serious again.
So that’s it. The big week that changed my life in many ways. I’ve forgotten so much of it because the memories didn’t have time to form. I can piece together bits thanks to emails, pictures, my honey’s memory. But there are parts that are completely gone, blank hours. And things I’ve discovered that I misremembered. In the litigation I saw a picture of the truck, I learned the make and brand but it looked completely different from my memory of it.
Oh wait here is the actual punchline, you know why the driver made an illegal right hand turn and sped off after running me over? He had to go to the bathroom and hadn’t realized he’d struck a person on a bicycle. There are only two lessons here: drive safely and wear a helmet.
Today’s bangles: the trio I wore on the day of my accident, tortoise shell bangle from Goodwill, lucky figa charm bracelet.