Birthday or Anniversary?

Today is my husbands birthday. We joke that he’s now as old as I am every year, cuz my birthday is in January, so for 2 1/2 months he likes to act like I’m old. Ha! Now he’s as old as me!

Every birthday he has had in the past 5 years has been extra special to me. We almost lost him in 2008. Alcoholism almost claimed him. His fight with this was almost over forever. On one drunken night in May, he went out and bought a brand new, top of the line motorcycle. I was furious. Beyond furious. Not only could we not afford a motorcycle of that caliber, the last thing a drunk needs is to be on one. Motorcycles are fun, thrilling, exciting. I get that. But they are also dangerous. There is a saying that it’s not a matter of “if” you wreck one, but “when”. And how bad will it be.

I can’t remember now if I even made the first payment on it. I don’t think I did. But maybe. I guess it doesn’t matter, except that detail escaping me bothers me. But I do remember it was a Tuesday night in mid July. That is very clear. He had come home from work, and had been drinking. Said he was going to take the bike out for a ride around the neighborhood. And he was gone. Gone for hours. I paced. I worried. I called a friend. I paced some more. Then, the phone rang. The police department calling, wanting to know if I was home because an officer and a chaplain were en route to my house. I called my friend back and she and her husband were at my house in a flash. They pulled up almost the same time as the officer and chaplain. There had been an accident. He was pronounced dead at the scene. They somehow revived him and he was being airlifted to a local severe trauma center. Was there someone they could call for me? The chaplain said a prayer of comfort for me in the middle of my driveway sometime around midnight that Tuesday night.

My friend called my oldest son to come home from work and stay with his brother. There had been an accident. Rob came right away and we left. I can’t remember if we waited for him to get there or if we just left. I know my friends husband drove us and I remember feeling numb and hovering. You know that hovering feeling when you are above yourself, looking at yourself, things are moving soooo slowly and you can see what is happening but yet not be able to acknowledge anything? That was me, in the back of his car, driving to the hospital, not knowing what we would find when we got there. Would he be dead?

The police met us there and said he was alive but in a medically induced coma for now. He had a head trauma. He had crashed his bike not wearing a helmet. He hit a curb and flew into a local park where he missed hitting a tree full impact by one inch. One inch. But he still hit his head on impact with the ground. They took blood and his BAC was .378. The one police officer said he had personally never seen someone with that high of a limit and still be alive.

We sat there. Me, my friend and her husband. Just sat. There was nothing to say, nothing to do, nothing. We finally got back to see him. My friend told the nurse he wore contacts so the nurse could take them out. I wouldn’t have thought of that at all. My brain was spinning looking at him. Blood coming out of his ear. Cuts and scrapes and blood all over the top of his head. IV’s in his hand. Bandages across his ribs. Machines beeping and blinking. Tubes up his nose and across his face. What was this?? What is happening??? Floating above again. Looking down at 3 people in a hospital room looking at this poor mangled man. Nurses coming in and out.

He had to have surgery to repair his spleen which was lacerated in multiple places. He had several broken ribs. He had a broken scapula. He had bleeding on the brain and his brain was swollen, which is why he had blood coming out of his ear.

After 4 days in ICU, he was released. The bike was totaled. He had his arm in a sling for the scapula, tape around his ribs, and he was home to recover the rest of the way. He still can’t hear out of his ear, but the rest has healed. We joke about his spleen getting hurt if he wrestles with Ryan. For the most part, he is back to his old self. He has a lack of short term memory sometimes. I’m not sure if that’s from the accident or old age. But it has been there since the accident happened, so I chalk it up to that.

So today, on his birthday, I celebrate that he is still here. To be a father to our boys. To be a husband to me. Today is the 5th anniversary of his birthday post accident. Maybe he would like that more than saying he’s 46. I know I do. So happy birthday to you. I hope you’re around for a lot more.

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