A pal wished me a happy new year yesterday and then added, “At least you know it won’t be worse than last year.”
A year ago, I was confined to a hospital bed.
While in a crosswalk, I had been hit by a distracted driver who was taking a hard left.
I landed down the street.
When I woke up, the ambulance was just pulling up. Blood was gushing from my broken nose.
After two surgeries, I was moved to a rehab facility in Cambridge.
It was clean, it was secure. It was also a retirement home for people much older.
My left leg was broken. My clavicle was splintered in two places, so my left arm had to be locked into a sling so bulky, I named it Godzilla.
(As with most jokes, there’s some truth to the one in the tagline in my bio – “half-man, half-metal” – I received metal implants in my clavicle and my leg that are meant to last my life.)
Given the nature of my injuries, I was pretty much a prisoner in my bed.
I needed help with every single thing. If I needed to go to the bathroom, I had to press a buzzer and wait for a nursing assistant, who would help hoist me up onto a portable commode. I couldn’t even wipe my own butt.
My cadillac health insurance plan cut me off after two weeks. No, no, I couldn’t possibly name Harvard Pilgrim – oops, my bad.
I received a nice two-page letter from my longtime insurer saying, in essence:
“You’re hurt. You can’t take care of yourself. Good luck with that.”
I like to say I bought a house when I was hit by a car.
I just didn’t get the house.
But I was alive.
That was kind of a big deal, considering. The EMTs who came to my rescue told me that when they answer these kind of calls, they usually end up scraping the remains off the road.
I spent about three months hospitalized. I got through that time with help from friends, family and my incredible church, some “Judge Judy” in the afternoon and every funny book I could download on my Kindle. (I can’t say enough good things about Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please.” )
I also got through it by focusing on the moment, living in the moment.
I couldn’t do anything about the bills or hurrying my body to heal. Everything was out of my control, and when I accepted that, everything became so much more easier to bear.
Now, after a lot of work and some luck, I’ve made almost a full recovery. Except for the scars on my shoulder and leg, you wouldn’t know I had ever been hurt.
This morning, on the way back from the grocery store, I witnessed a spectacular sunrise. The light of the new day lit up the roofs with streaks of deep yellow and orange.
I didn’t reach for my phone and take a picture. I just stopped and savored it.
You and I, we have little control over our futures and absolutely no power to change our pasts. All we have is this moment. See it, smell it, taste it, memorize it. Make it a part of you.