I was grabbing lunch at my local pizzeria yesterday when this story came up on the TV. The headline caught my eye, because it included the name of the small town I used to live in: Greenvale. And as I watched the story unfold, I realized that the images they were showing were of the exact location of the accident that left me an amputee. (For those of you interested in directional details, if you look at the newscaster standing at the intersection at the beginning of the piece, the car I was trying to push off the road was pointed in the same direction as the cars whose headlights are facing her. I was trying to push the broken vehicle across a few lanes of traffic to get it into the Mobil (at that time, a Shell) gas station.)
Since I don’t have any real memories of the accident, aside from 30 seconds of disoriented terror after I had been hit, the intersection doesn’t trigger anything particularly awful in my mind. But as I watched the newscast unfold, and I saw the night-time shots of the area amidst the rain and holiday decorations, I realized that it looked eerily similar to the police photos taken at the time of my accident. And then I started thinking … my accident took place at the same time of year. As I took another bite of my pepperoni slice, I pressed my phone’s home button to check the date.
And everything stopped for a second.
Today is the 15 year anniversary of my accident. I probably would have gone straight through the day without thinking of it once. But I happened to be in DiRaimo’s, and I happened to be sitting in one of the few seats directly facing the television, and I happened not to be looking at my emails on my phone (which is usually what I spend my time doing when eating lunch) when the story hit the screen on a channel that I never watch at home. Fourteen years and 364 days after my accident, some unlucky teenage girl got hit at the same place in eerily similar weather conditions as the ones that I experienced back in 1996.
I woke up at 3 this morning, phantom pain firing down my nonexistent limb. I read and played video games on my iPad until 5 to try to distract myself. (Yes, I know, I’m supposed to try the mirror box that my son, Jackson, created for his science fair and that I wrote about a few weeks ago; but it was downstairs, and it seemed too far away at 3 AM.) I nodded off for another hour, getting jolted awake every 2-3 minutes by another electric strike in my leg. I woke up feeling rather miserable, saw my kids off to school, and went outside to run. Given my sleep-deprived state, I opted for a 3 mile fast run rather than a longer but slower 6-miler. Ten minutes in and the heavens opened.
My lungs almost came out of my throat on the long hill that swallows up a third of my final mile. I barely caught my breath before tackling the shorter but steeper hill that ends only about 300M before my driveway. And I came to a gasping, wet, disjointed stop with my hands clenched behind my head while I tried not to puke in the street. (I didn’t.)
And as lousy as I felt at that moment, I couldn’t have been happier.