I love to travel. I try to do it at least once a month in some form or fashion. So, I was eager as usual to take my “June trip” to Philadelphia, my birthplace. I’ve not been back in more years than I can remember (I moved before my 11th birthday and visited a few times after), and was primarily motivated to go by my boyfriend who is an avid golfer and got us tickets to the US Open.
While I am certainly not much of an athlete (I’ve been called “surprisingly athletic” by a friend who says that means that even though I don’t do much by way of physical activity, that I’m actually pretty good when I give sports a go), I do enjoy live sporting events for the energy they bring. I’d never been to a golf tournament before (wasn’t even sure whether or not to call it a “match”, “game”, or “tournament” initially), so thought it would be great to make my first golf-watching adventure be at such a big event as the Open. (And who am I kidding, I was excited to dress the part, too).
No need for too many details, but the day was great! Weather was perfect and it was a lot of fun to experience the event and develop an appreciation for the athleticism of those golfers. It also re-confirmed to me that I don’t posses enough patience or endurance to play golf.
Day 2 in Philadelphia started off normally with a lazy morning around my boyfriend’s father’s home. As I went upstairs to change for brunch, Joe (boyfriend) and his dad stayed outside to check out his motorcycle. As I’m finishing up, I hear a loud crunching noise and the yell of his dad. I first assume that Joe hit his dad’s car while driving out of the garage. I looked out the window to confirm and instead I see a parked van at the end of the driveway and the motorcycle turned over on it’s side on the road.
My heart immediately began to race and I panicked. I ran downstairs, out the door, and down the driveway only to hear his dad screaming “Call 911!”. This is no way helped me to stop panicking, but I raced back up to the house to find a phone. Through my fear and tears, I yelled to Joe’s dad’s wife (who is also a doctor) to call 911 because he has been hit by a car! Once she complied, I speed back down the driveway.
Everything was a blur. I couldn’t believe this was happening and how quickly things went from a causal Saturday morning to crouching on the road next to my boyfriend who was hit by a van and badly bleeding. I was a wreck, but trying to hold it together to assure Joe that he’d be okay and was trying not to get in the way of the 3 doctors who happened to be neighbors and quickly made their way out to asses the situation.
One of the doctors fashioned a splint for his badly injured leg out of a lawn sign. Joe was talking and assured me he was OK. We all urged him not to move his head or his neck, but in that moment I felt a small sense of relief. It took the ambulance about 10 minutes to get there. When they did, they got him on a stretcher and into the vehicle and I asked them to let me go with them. I’d never been in an ambulance before and I got a whole new appreciation for the necessity to move out of the way as a vehicle on the road when a siren is coming behind you (because no one in the fair city of Philadelphia seemed to understand this basic concept).
I was seated in the front and could hear Joe in the back talking with the EMTs. I was glad to know he was fully conscious. I was silently praying for Joe and texted my family and a couple friends whom we were supposed to meet that afternoon to do the same, all in my state of partial shock that this was even happening.
When we got to the hospital he was rushed in and I was rushed into the the ER waiting room…where I was told to stay…and did so for a couple hours. The hospital’s chaplain came to meet me with a Bible in her hand. My greeting wasn’t “hello”, but rather, “Why do you have that Bible?”, afraid of what that might mean for Joe. She assured me she was the Chaplain and “has Bible, will travel” and that Joe was OK. They were running X-rays but so far so good.
After what was a long time working with the police back at the site of the accident, Joe’s family arrived and we all waited together (that’s one way to bond with your significant other’s family). We were finally admitted back to see him and were all shaken up yet grateful to find out that he’d (only) broken his leg, gotten some deep lacerations, and road rash. All in all, given what could have happened, we were grateful he had no permanent injuries and that we could take him home that day.
Joe recounted his memories of the situation and so did his dad who had to see it all happen, which I can’t even imagine. Sparing the details, it was confirmed by the police that the driver was at fault and Joe was not. It also re-affirmed to me why I hate motorcycles and think they are dangerous. He was on the road for no more than 20 seconds and 50 yards. In that short time, this happened.
The remainder of the weekend in Philadelphia really centered around our gratitude for Joe’s survival and that things turned out as best as they could given the situation. It was also a strong reminder that things literally can change within moments.
What I don’t think any of us anticipated was the toll this type of accident takes emotionally and mentally on the victim and their loved ones. It’s been 9 days since and it’s been tough. More visits to the doctors, ER, and lots of ups-and-downs. We’re in the weeds, but optimistic that each day will get better.
I know that life gets hectic and things can seem like they are important in the moment even when we know they are of little weight long-term. This incident helped me to put those things in perspective. I recognize that as time goes on, we will forget some of these lessons, but I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling of terror I felt when I looked out that window and knew in my gut that something was wrong. It’s a tough image to release but also, hopefully, a good one to remember to maintain that valuable perspective.
Give your loved ones an extra hug today, just because.