When she awoke the next morning after a very restless night, she realized that she still had blood in her hair. Wincing as her arm slowly moved upward to the source of the pain in her head, she was still trying to piece together the events that happened the day before. The strap of her bra dug into her shoulder. She went to adjust it and realized that she still had on her sister’s white bathing suit. They were supposed to go to the beach. “That was how the day started,” she thought, “we were going to go to the beach after we picked a few things up for my bat mitzvah.”
The events began to knit together. We went to Paperama, where Christy and her practically wetting her pants laughing over the silly books we were reading. We stopped for ice cream. Christy had Cherry Vanilla. She had Heavenly Hash. Then the next thing she knew, a woman’s hands were reaching toward her through the glass window and her mother’s head was at an unnatural angle in front of her. She could hear her grandmother crying out. She turned her head to the right and her eyes met Christy’s.
“Are you ok??” Christy shouted, in complete shock and bleeding from the back of her head. She had been wearing her father’s oxford shirt. It was a complete mess now. The ambulance ride consisted of her trying to remember what happened, and what was happening to her mother. Where was her grandmother? And Christy?
She smacked her lips together and reached for the tepid water that was next to her on the stand. It felt good going down her dry throat. Her head hurt so much. She could barely handle the sunlight in the room. Did she still have her period? Oh crap. She paged the nurse to help her get out of bed. Slowly she swung her legs to one side. Stepping down gingerly, she began to make her way to the bathroom. A wave of nausea overtook her as she stepped forward. She saw her when she looked up and out of the door into the hallway. Instant rage trumped the nausea and her eyes narrowed. Her fist clenched around the IV pole and she could feel her palm pressing so hard on the metal it was turning white. She regained her balance immediately and stepped towards the hallway.
“If anything, anything happens to my mom, I will fucking kill you.” She managed to spit out through her clenched teeth. Her voice became louder. “If she dies, I will tear you apart!” She took another step towards the hallway. The nurse quickly pulled her back into the room and sing-songed her into the bathroom. When she opened the door to leave, the girl was no longer visible.
“That bitch better stay the fuck away from me.” She said to no one in particular. She heard the door shut across the hallway. Exhausted from the bathroom trip, she closed her eyes.
This is actually what happened to myself, my mother, grandmother and my best friend on a beautiful summer day in August. A 16 year old without insurance was drinking with her mom and blew through a stop sign doing 65 mph. She hit us without hitting her brakes. My mother’s neck snapped with the force of the impact and I was knocked unconscious. The impact hit my grandmother’s ribs and broke them. Christy fell on top of me and was ‘lucky’ enough to catch all of the glass.
My mom was almost taken out by a drunk driver. Thank God she wasn’t, but she could have been. I could have been sent to live with my dad, which would have been disastrous since he disappeared over a year later. My sister was in Israel and had no idea this had happened. Today, even talking about it still gives me feelings of anger and I think I may be onto why I get so turned off when people drink with their parents. If I want to be honest, my mother was in fact taken from me that day because the woman she became after that is not the same person. She lost full rotation of her cervical spine, and was in a neck brace for what felt like months. She was afraid when she rode in a car. She couldn’t play golf anymore and struggled with the intense pain her surgery had left her.
Throughout the years I have wondered if I would meet this girl or woman in the halls of AA, if they ever learned from their mistake. A close friend made a similar mistake the other night and is facing some serious consequences. Since Sunday, I have been angry at how thoughtless this person could have been. No one was hurt but still- what the fuck are you thinking when you get behind the wheel after drinking a decent amount? The resentment and disgust stayed with me until this morning.
This morning, I realized that I wanted to invite compassion in because I know that is what this person needs at the moment. The last thing they need is another person telling them what a piece of crap they are. I have been shown compassion by those around me who choose to be in my life in spite of what I did to them while drinking. Wouldn’t I have wanted the same when I was in a similar pickle?
When you love someone, even as a friend, you accept them exactly as how they are. You don’t pass judgment, you pass on love. You don’t try to make them pay for their mistakes, you forgive them so that maybe they can forgive themselves. I care about this person very much and I know that with each minute they are praying that they could go back and make a different choice. We can be harder on ourselves than others are on us.
The girl who hit us in 1985 could have used some compassion too. She was young and probably thought she would never get into such a horrible car accident. I remember how frightened her eyes became when we saw each other. Her muffled sobbing could be heard through the door.
Justified anger is just anger. It doesn’t do anyone any good to hold onto it. As I flowed through postures that were designed to open my heart and chest, I breathed in the intention to welcome in compassion. I have to say that today has been an incredible day and I hope to do it all again tomorrow.