Life is a cycle and a spiral.
My son's best friend, Christopher, had a sledding accident. He hit a tree, face first. His mom dialed 911 right away. The ambulance crew immobilized him, and took him to Sacred Heart. The staff ran a lot of tests on Christopher, and they were concerned about his first vertebra for a while. But other than bruising and swelling, he is okay. The right side of his face is puffed up like a balloon, his eye swollen shut.
I can only imagine what Angela, his mom, was going through as she sat those 6 hours in the emergency room. Christopher is her only child. She and his dad had an unpleasant divorce, and things are still messy. He is not much in his child's life. Her family lives in Seattle.
Old feelings come roiling up in me. Last Christmas Eve (was it only a year ago?), Chris and Ross and I went sledding in that same park. I was sledding in an area that was far more dangerous than where Christopher was. I hit a telephone pole, backwards. I could stand up, but I had shooting pains and thought I'd broken my hip or thighbone. Chris drove the Jeep to me, took me to Sacred Heart. I don't remember how long we were there. My son had to sit and wait while his mom went through a bunch of tests. I had broken the knobs on the right sides of four vertebrae (lumbar 1 through4). Nothing to do but take pain killers and rest.
The doctors told me that this was an injury that you only saw from direct impacts. Car crashes, baseball bats, professional bull riders. I certainly had times when I felt like I'd been stomped on by a bull. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I wondered if I was going to be fully functional again.
Thank God, I am now mostly healed. I occasionally have a little pain, especially if I sit in bad chairs for too long. And I know that my body continues to heal. As do my emotions. But I feel the tears quicken when I think of Christopher. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
This summer I visited "my" telephone pole a couple of times. I could find no trace of where I'd hit -- not even a dent. I'm still making my peace with it. Even saying "thank you" for the things I've learned on this journey, after our run-in.
I've yet to go sledding, though -- time and weather haven't cooperated yet. But I will go. There is such joy in that mad dash through the snow. I embrace the joy, not the fear. And I hope that Ross and Christopher and Angela and I can go sledding together some day soon.