We all have a fear.
Something that rest deep within us and threatens to disrupt our world and shake us to our core.
Some of us fear things like spiders, bees, or mice, and some of us fear things like pain, betrayal, danger, and death.
But what happens when our fears manifest? When the things we fear most cross the line of imagination into reality?
In the fall of 2016 I came to face to face with one of my worst fears. Allow me to tell you about the time I hit a man with my car.
It was early in the morning just before the sun normally broke through the shadows of the night before. The rain that morning was alternating between a fast-paced rhythmic drumming and a light dribble. I remember driving down Sheridan road which one of the busier roads in our little big city of Kenosha Wisconsin. The rain was relentless and our little 2011 Nissan versa’s windshield wipers couldn't seem to keep up. My mind was racing, filled with the worst scenarios of the most unfortunate events, but in these scenarios, it wasn't me being hurt that I feared the most, it was the welfare of all the drivers around me that concerned me the most. After a few minutes of this down pour of liquid abuse, I decided I'd had enough. I was only about 7 minutes away from my home and the back roads were smaller so that meant a lot less traffic. I could take them almost directly to my house so I figured it would be a much better idea compared to staying on Sheridan road.
Little did I know the events that would come to unfold in the next 5 minutes.
Using my turn signal early, I slowed down and cautiously made a right onto the emptier suburban road, feeling an instant sense of relief to be away from the busy flow of city traffic. Making a left, I continued my journey feeling at ease about the rest of my trip home. The rain had finally begun to let up a little as I made a left onto the route that would take me home. Though the sky was still dark, in the distance I could see the prettiest mixture of the glowing orange and fuchsia light breaking through shadows of early dawn
A few minutes into my brief reprieve, the rain began to pound my windshield with a fierceness greater than before. My heart sunk into my chest as that familiar feeling of worry crept over me once again. I didn't know why I felt this way. I was on a safe road with ZERO traffic...
Pushing the feeling down I continued driving, slowing my speed to be a little below the speed limit. It was hard to see clearly, but I could see the turn that would take me home just ahead.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I finally neared an end to this anxiety inducing drive. Finally, I was almost home.
That’s when it happened.
Time seemed to slow down as the glass from my windshield danced around me like glistening crystals. There was jolting clash from something bouncing off my hood and windshield, then there was a loud thud on the roof. It felt as if I was frozen in time as I was thrown into a state of confusion, panic, shock and sharp clarity.
I hit something... That was undeniable.
As I slammed on my breaks, it felt like I kicked them through the floor. Picking my head up, I looked through the shattered windshield terrified of the truth that would lay before me. I hadn't hit something...
I'd hit someone.
My heart sank deep into my chest, compressed by the weight of bearing another’s life in my hands. I had to act, and I had to act now.
Jumping out of the car, I rushed to the side of the man who laid confused and in pain on the side of the small road. He was drenched by the rain that assaulted him mercilessly. He was still conscious, but just barely. At least that was a good sign. I noticed a giant bloody gash on the top his head as he reached up to me mumbling words I couldn’t really understand.
"Please just stay still sir!" I pleaded with him as he continuously tried to sit up but failed. "Please don't die."
I repeated this over and over to myself like a scratched cd stuck on repeat. On the inside I was horrified, but I felt like I couldn't let him see the fear that I truly felt. He needed help immediately but there was no traffic and I had forgotten my cell phone at home. Great. I would have to leave him to get help... but how could I leave this man in the rain when it came down like a scene from the most dramatic of movies. Was this even real life anymore?
I knew I shouldn't move him, but I had to get him out of the rain. I had to make a decision. I started assessing the severity of his injuries as I lightly patted his arms, legs and ribs to see if there were any broken bones. His arms and legs seemed fine, but his ribs didn't feel right. He continued to try to sit up in a half stance, resting on his forearm. This gave me hope that maybe there wasn't a neck or spinal injury. Though I had a lot of experience from my mom career in healthcare and my own years spent in the hospital as a child, I still wasn't a doctor.
There was no more time, I had to move now.
Flooded with adrenaline and desperation, I took his arm and placed it over my neck as I did my best to cradle his weight against myself. I rushed to my opened car door and placed him inside on the passenger seat. It felt like we were in a race against time and I didn't know how much time was left. After I made sure he was as secured and comfortable as I could make him, I took off in a mad dash to the first home I saw. This was literally the worst day to forget my cell phone at home.
"CALL AN AMBULANCE NOW!" I yelled as I pounded on the door, feeling as if I would knock it through if I hit it any harder. It took a few seconds for the man inside to respond but it felt like an eternity. "What's going on?" The man yelled to me as he cautiously approached the door. "I hit someone." I yelled to him through the thick cherry colored wood. "PLEASE SIR, CALL THE AMBULANCE NOW!" The look on his face betrayed his thoughts as he realized the situation brought before him. He dialed quickly and paced as he waited for an answer.
Finally, the situation was looking better. Help was on its way. Now all I had to do was keep the man in my car conscious until it arrived.
I ran back to the car scared beyond belief, but I didn't have time to give in to my fear. This man’s life was depending on my ability to make the right decisions. That's all that mattered to me at that moment. I knew my nerves could stand the test since I was tested back in 2011 when I had to lead my fiance and 6 month old daughter out a burning building while we were trapped on the third floor in our apartment, but that's a story for a different time.
I sprinted back to my car and sat beside him, grabbing his hand, and telling him that help was on its way. "Stay awake sir." I pleaded with him in the most comforting tone I could manage. "Can you tell me your name?" I asked, as I tried to keep his attention so that he wouldn't close his eyes. He mumbled something that sounded like... Paul. "Did you say your name was Paul sir?" I asked him as he began to drift. He gave what seemed like a subtle nod as he laid his head back and closed his eyes. "Paul!" I yelled his name desperately fearing what was to come "You have to stay with me man!" I begged as I squeezed his hand harder.
"I need you to stay with me."
For fifteen long minutes Paul and I fought together. He needed the help, and I needed the hope. It was the longest fifteen minutes of my life.
Just as Paul began to drift again, I heard what sounded like the most beautiful sound I would ever hear. There It was, the angelic sound of an ambulances siren. They we're almost here. I turned to Paul excited and eternally thankful for the help he was about to receive. After a few more seconds I could finally see the bright lights as they approached. "WE MADE IT BUDDY!" I squeezed his hand again softly, assuring him that he would be ok before I ran out to meet the police and the ambulance.
The police patted me down, checked my car and asked me to take them through what had happened as they collected my information. I told them everything I could remember, but my sight and my attention stayed with Paul as the paramedics loaded him into the ambulance. I was asked to have a seat in the police car so that I would be out of the rain as they continued their investigation. After speaking to the man who called them, the police came back to the car and told me that everything matched up and it appeared to be an honest accident caused by the rain as the man was crossing the street. I hadn't seen him, and he hadn't seen me. They told me they appreciated my honesty and quick thinking and that I just might have saved his life. I was free to go, but all I could think about was Paul and if he would survive.
Was he ok?... Was he awake?... Was he still alive?...
The rest of the morning I tried desperately to get in contact with anyone at the hospital that could update me on Paul’s condition. I called for hours regardless of being told over and over by staff that they couldn't disclose patient information. I pled my case to an empathetic nurse who finally transferred me to Paul’s room.
Pacing back and forth in my living room as my wife watched in shock, I waited anxiously. The phone rang five times to many as my anxiety peaked to an all-time high. Suddenly, there was a voice on the other end.
"Hello?" the woman said in a shakingly hushed tone. I cleared my throated and asked what I needed to know. "I'm calling to check on a man named Paul. He was in an accident earlier this morning."
The fear of what I didn't know seeped to the surface as I spoke, causing my voice to tremble. "Is he ok?" I asked, terrified of the answer I might receive.
"This is Paul’s wife... who is it I’m speaking too?" The woman asked. She was impossibly calm and sweet. I couldn't imagine how. My heart plummeted deeper into my stomach. What had I done to this family. I took a moment to steady myself, then I answered.
"My name is L.G. mam. I'm the man who hit your husband."
I closed my eyes and took the deepest breath I could muster as I prepared for ... something, anything... the worst thing... I didn't know what to prepare for, but this was it. This was the moment that would change everything. There was no hiding and there was no running. It was never an option. She took a short moment to respond but even that short amount of time seemed unbearable.
But, what happened next was something for which I could have never prepared. It was also something I would never forget.
"L.G.?" The woman was still so unbelievably calm. That scared me more than anything, but her calm wouldn't last for long.
"OH MY GOD! Hi Hun! How are you? I’m so happy you called!"
"Wait, what?" I was completely baffled by her response. I expected anger, I expected hate, I even prepared for soul crushing grief, but I wasn't prepared for... happy? Thinking that this impossibly sweet woman must not have heard me, I cleared my throat and again stated who I was and why I was calling louder and more clearly.
"Mam... I'm LG. I'm the one who hit your husband. I'm so sorry, it was raining, and I couldn't see him, his clothes were dark but that no excuse, I should have looked harder or done something different. I’m so sorry mam!" I couldn't control the guilt that spilled from my mouth in the form of continuous rambling.
Our conversation wasn't the longest conversation, but it was one that I would never forget.
"I know." she said with such a kind and joyful demeanor. "How are you Hun?"
I was more than a little caught off guard. This wasn't quite the response I was expecting... I was thinking more a wrath of god type of reaction, but this... this was… pleasant.
"I'm fine." I answered. "it's your husband I’m worried about." Clearing my throat again, I asked her the question that had been causing my heart to do an intense round of gymnastics in my stomach. "Is Paul ok?"
"Ok?" Her voice went up an octave. This was it. I braced myself for what I felt I deserved.
"Hun. he is doing amazing and I don't want you to spend another minute worrying about it."
All things considering, the last thing I expected to hear was that. Though I was confused and in desperate need of some explanation, I felt the riot raging in my soul begin to calm as I released the anxiety and fear that held me captive. "The ambulance and police told me what you did, and I am so grateful that this happened with such a great young man as yourself. Thank you so much for caring and carrying Paul to your car. He's not a small man. Thank you for doing the right thing."
"I'm so happy he's ok mam! I bit my bottom lip to keep from crying out with joy, but... My words trailed off as I wondered to myself how that was possible. He wasn't in the best condition when we were outside in the rain waiting for the ambulance.
"It's incredible!" she yelled out. I was still baffled and trying to understand the reason for her excitement. It was such a strange day for me... but then as she began to explain, my whole body became covered in goosebumps.
She explained to me that her husband was once in the navy and had a condition brought on from an infection that rendered him almost incapable of verbal communication amongst other abilities that most of us take for granted. She said when she arrived, not only was he conscious but he was sitting up in the bed speaking clearly as he made jokes with the family and hospital staff around him.
She told me that it had been over a decade since they were able to communicate to this extent and that this was a gift from god.
What had been the manifestation of my worst fear turned out be a priceless gift for this family that I to this day still can't believe. I had heard the saying many times before but in this moment, I truly understood it.
Reality is often stranger than fiction. Here I was, a witness and catalyst to a real deal modern day miracle.
We talked a bit longer and exchanged numbers. I scribbled her number down on a loose napkin that I found and assured her that we would definitely keep in contact as she made plans for us to all meet up for dinner one day.
The next day we spoke for a short while before my phone went out just before I could write down her number again. She told that Paul was still talking and recovering well. I told my fiancé and she couldn't believe it. The next morning, I went to find the napkin, but it was gone. I called the hospital back, but they couldn't connect me, and I wasn't family, so I wasn’t allowed to visit. I hoped she would call again so that I could keep up with Paul’s recovery, but months would pass before we would speak again.
It was the beginning of November. I was working as a writer for berrysbetterbusiness.com and had spent the morning writing fresh content. I needed a break, so I decided to head to the store to pick up supplies and kill some time. On my way out of the store I overheard a woman on her cell phone. She was talking about her husband recovering from a crash. She said he had been hit by a car a few months back and was doing much better now. "No way." I thought to myself as I walked out the exit, but I couldn't shake the feeling that maybe it was her...
Following my gut, I turned around and walked back to store entrance and up to the woman on her phone who wore such a kind smile. "Hi mam." I said as I prepared to be an ease dropping weirdo. "By any chance, is your husband’s name Paul?" I asked.
To my surprise she looked at me and said yes!
I took a step back to catch a grip on exactly what was happening. Unable to believe what seemed to be unfolding, I asked her if he'd been hit by a car in Kenosha about four months ago. Her smile had now turned into a look of confusion as she looked up to me and said "yes, yes he was." I couldn't believe this!
I took a slow step forward so that I was standing an arm’s reach away and said. "I'm L.G. mam, I'm the man who hit your husband..."
Her eyes widened with the realization of this impossible chance encounter and at the same time we both reached out to embrace each other. She told me that Paul was still having some difficulties with his speech, but he was communicating better. She told me that he was re-gaining more independence by the day. Hearing this news made my heart swell with joy for Paul and his wife. We talked for a while as we laughed and reminisced of the day both of our lives had changed. We exchanged numbers, pictures from the hospital, and even became friends on Facebook.
I told her that I was a writer and asked for her permission to share our story with the world and to my pleasure she happily agreed.
That brings us to now. As I sit at my computer writing the final sentences of this incredible story, I’m faced with the dilemma of how to end it. Should I end it with humor? Possibly a joke or maybe an inspirational quote?
I’m not really sure, but I realize now that it's not the end of this story that matters. For Mary Jo and Paul, their new story is just beginning. And so is mine. So instead of ending this story with something witty or inspirational, I’ll choose to make a toast instead. Here's to you and your new beginning Mary Jo and Paul, and here's to the fate that brought our lives together that stormy morning. Cheers. Thank you for letting me share our story.
And thank all of you here on STEEMIT for reading it. Please upvote this post and resteem it to support me and my efforts to give something back to Paul and Mary Jo and I'll be back with another unbelievably true story.
My name is L.G. Ivy... and this is a TRUE story from my life. Thank you.