Life changes in an instant

In the Spring of 2010 my life and my perspective on life changed forever. Within days my oldest friend (the first friend I ever made) was in a terrible motorcycle accident and was comatose, then my grandmother passed away.

Two incredibly important people in my life were missing and I was lost.

. . .

He doesn’t remember the day or so before the accident, but I remember texting jokes back and forth with him during the day. The next day I saw on social media that a man from my hometown was in a one person motorcycle accident the night before – his name wasn’t released. I just knew. I texted him. Forty-five minutes later, no answer and I just knew. I contacted his best friend (another life-long friend) and confirmed it. All of the horrible details of him losing control and hitting the pavement head-first were provided.

It’s as vivid to me as if it was yesterday.

The next two weeks, while he was in a coma were filled with tear-filled phone calls with various people I hadn’t spoken to directly in a decade or more. We rallied together. As, I have mentioned in another blog, or two, I grew up in a Mayberry-like town where people actually care about one another. We pulled together a fundraiser for his wife and children within weeks. It was absolutely amazing, wonderful and just beautiful. Donations poured in.

And so did the criticism.

Why wasn’t he wearing a helmet? Was he going too fast?

Who cares?

The man/husband/father was battling for his life. Did it even matter? I knew someone else who rode motorcycles his entire life, hit a deer while wearing a helmet and was never the same. I’ve known people in cars who have been in single vehicle accidents surrounded by metal and were critically injured.

I become nostalgic around this time of year since our birthdays are three weeks apart. I couldn’t be more thankful that we all still have him in our lives, his family in particular. He and I can say we’ve been friends for 40 years now – at our young ages, that’s pretty amazing. We are all blessed.

He is a reminder of how, in just a moment, life can change forever. One decision can change absolutely everything.

. . .

While I was still puffy-eyed from the news about my friend, I received the call that I knew was going to come. My grandmother had passed peacefully.

She lived well into her 90s and had a wonderful life. She was ready. We had said our goodbyes. Yet, I had no idea the emptiness her passing would leave in my life.

Not a day or two goes by when I don’t think of her and hope that she is proud of the woman I’ve become. I hope she can see my children. I wish I could talk to her. I wish the kids could have known her better.

She had lost most of her ability to speak in the last few years, but she still had her humor and the fire in her eyes (some days). One of the last family moments we had with her was around my cousin’s kitchen table. We were all talking and laughing. Someone gave her a small glass, much like a shotglass out of which to drink soda pop. She decided to pretend she was drunk. She was laughing and swaying, making us all cry with laughter.

My cousin was showing her pictures of family members on the computer and she’d reach out and caress the faces on the screen and smile. I find myself doing that from time to time now….

Those are the moments that I cherish when I think of the beautiful woman she was. (In addition to all of the wonderful moments when she was younger…. a Coca-Cola model, a hilarious Lucille Ball look-a-like, a successful businesswoman, a wonderful mother, grandmother and friend)

A day before she passed, my cousin was with her and was calling family members. I saved the message she left telling me she loved me.

Then our family lost its matriarch.

. . .

In a matter of weeks, my life changed completely. As life often does.

Then I had two amazing moments, one with each of them.

A few weeks after my friend’s accident, I headed back to my home state for my friend’s fundraiser. He was awake and I was finally able to see him. I had been warned that he might not recognize me.

I walked into the hospital alone, my heart filled with more emotions than I could handle. I stopped outside of his room almost afraid to go in. As I knocked, then went in, we looked at each other and it only took a moment before a smile of recognition spread across his face and I was greeted with a, “Hey You.” I knew things would get better.

I knew the darkest of those days were over. He was going to recover.

My grandmother’s memorial service a few weeks later was so incredibly beautiful. My cousin had put together a slideshow of her life set to music. We watch the show in the sanctuary and rain poured outside, as if grandma was crying from above. As the slideshow came to its end, a beautiful sun came out and shone in. I can’t help to know that it was my grandma smiling on all of us to let us know that she was with us and everything would be okay.

The anniversary of those weeks is coming up and I am thankful for those in my life. I am thankful those I have had the blessing to have known. Each has brought an amazing lesson. Or many lessons for which I am truly thankful.

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