In and out of consciousness…
—the ripping of Velcro that is impossibly close by my ears
—snow and ice scraping underneath me and being in motion
—opening my eyes and looking out the back of an ambulance under the brightest white lights, my focus is on my friend Andy, driving the car behind us
—realizing I’m in an emergency room when my parents walk in sporting their best poker faces
—oh, I’m still here and the on-call plastic surgeon is on his way from a party, should that make me nervous?
—I feel no pain or panic, I just am
—the doctor’s fingers reaching inside my bottom lip and through the rip to the outside of my chin, sutures inside and out, and the tugging that goes along with sewing
—I’m in a hospital bed, mom is in a plastic reclining chair next to me
—sitting in a comfortable chair with lots of wires stuck to my head for an EEG test, recalling as many math equations as possible because surely my brain would do back flops and be firing on all circuits if I stretched it, right?
—the 24 hours were a blur
When I got home there were meals in the refrigerator, posters with flowery penmanship on the front door, flowers, and a Penn State Boxing sweatshirt, appropriate for the way my distorted and deformed face looked after colliding with Stanley Baran from Fairfield, CT. My hometown village of support was alive and well. When the ski patrol team brought me into First Aid on a stretcher and a guy followed me into the hut a young girl was sitting on the trainer’s bed with her ankle elevated receiving treatment. She asked my brother if “that guy” was the one who hit me, “yes, he replied.” She was aghast and replied, “he’s the same guy who ran into me!”. We got his name, because, after all, who wouldn’t after seeing him at the top of a double black diamond drinking alcohol from a flask and bragging about skiing while drunk as a beginner skier.
In and out of consciousness…
—open my eyes to look directly into Uncle Rick’s eyes as he expertly removes bone fragments from my cheek and eye orbital bone for a few hours. “You are doing great, Carrie Sue, go back to sleep, we are almost done.”
—wake up with immediate relief to have the surgeries done
When my parents dropped me back at college the “whisper down the lane” sorority phone tree had everyone guessing my status, everything from a coma to severe brain damage to total facial reconstruction. I remember walking into the church basement where we were having an all-day retreat. I was nervous to be seen and ready to be back on my own, in the college setting after an extended holiday break due to the after-effects of the ski accident. The room completely went silent and froze…within seconds 60 women were surrounding me like a child who has not seen his mom or dad in over a year when they were away in the military. There was such a warm blanket of friendship wrapped around me. My college village was alive and well.
There is an unknown space our minds, souls and spirits go when we are not completely awake or a higher power has taken over. It’s a space where we are enveloped with assurance and hope and the confidence that all will be as it shall. When we surrender to the universe and allow God to take over, no questions asked.
Memoir writing has become a refuge for me and I am finding it intriguing as I look, curiously, for common themes and threads that are woven through the stories that have become a patchwork to the quilt I am sewing and wrapping my village in.
There is much more to explore, corners to dig into, edges to soften, and places that I have been afraid to enter. One thing that has become crystal clear is that a person’s village plays the most critical role in any life. That village has people who come and go, and no one is actually completely gone from the village once they have entered and left. If we pay attention, it becomes clear that people come into our lives for a reason, and may only stay a short time.
My dad is about to receive a diagnosis and treatment plan on Monday at 12:50 he, hell, we are feeling vulnerable, weak and we are afraid. We activated the village and what is loud and clear is that the village we were raised in has expanded as my brother and I have left home, held different jobs, moved to different parts of the world. Yet the village where we were raised is still the core, even though some of the chiefs are no longer on this earth, their offspring step in, and the deep wells we have dug will forever keep us from thirsting. As I have raised my two girls, I have felt that the greatest gift we can give to them is confidence and to connect them with people who will be influential in countless ways and be in their village. Essentially, creating a village we share…where trust and love preside. What will this journey be like with dad? With mom? How will our village welcome them home?