With so many near death experiences, I gotta live

Still Handsome on a Stretcher

When I was about two years old, I died.

My mom once told me that as a toddler I was very energetic and used to run around the house all the time. We lived with my grandparents and they had this old school wooden coffee table in the living room. You know, one of those the super heavy ones with the cabinet and the beveled edges. Can’t forget about the sharp corners.

This table and my energy level did not make a good combination and just as everyone was afraid of, while playing around in the living room, I hit my head. I didn’t just bump into it either. Somehow I RAN into it! I was knocked unconscious by the force and lied breathless on the floor next to it. Luckily for me my grandfather knew and was able to perform CPR. He gave me life again. I was ok.

When I was eight years old, I almost died.

I was a daredevil on my bicycle as a kid. Rolling down the street and even bending corners with no hands was all about balance. Riding wheelies added the element of control. I was decent but usually only held up for a few seconds. I was a fan of simply hitting the wheelie itself. Enjoying the spontaneity of it. My personal favorite though was building ramps or finding some uneven sidewalk to spring myself up into the air. There was this one piece of sidewalk three houses down that was so uneven, that it became my go-to (its also the reason my front wheel was so wopped). That 1-2 seconds of both tires leaving the ground felt like an eternity and often times it seemed as if I was going to soar into the trees nearby.

One day as I was making my approach, building up speed like I was about to jump the Grand Canyon, a car backed out from a driveway just yards from my target. Before I knew it the rear of her vehicle was blocking the entire sidewalk and I had no time to react. My bike smashed straight into her car. I front flipped over her back window, grazed the trunk, and somehow landed on my back. I was dazed. I remember seeing a blurry blue sky and two ladies I had never seen before standing over me, one screaming.  Thinking back, I’d bet that they were teenagers, guests of one the neighbors’ sons. Through what seemed like an echo chamber I heard the words  “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! ARE YOU OK!! OH MY GOD! I’M SO SORRY” I took a deep breath and sat up. I took another deeper breath and weakly said “Yea, I’m alright” as I put my hand on the back of my head where I was feeling the most pain.

They helped me stand up and I dusted the dirt away from the newly formed lesions on my legs. The driver asked her friend “WHAT DO WE DO?!” Her friend, turned to me and asked “Are you sure you are ok?” “Yea, I’m fine” I said, still rubbing my head and now looking around for my bike. The passenger assures the driver “He said he is ok.” The driver visibly shaken and with tears in her eyes says “Oh my God, I am so sorry. I hope you really are ok.” By this time I’m straddling and accessing the damage to my bike. “I’ll be ok.”

Twenty years later, I could have died.

I learned how to drive in Chicago. No, I learned how to drive in Flint and South Bend. I learned how to DRIVE in Chicago. Those expressways are ridiculous! My first time driving through Chicago when I was 19, I was in the leftmost “fast” lane going 85 and was getting passed on my right by sooo many cars! And the speed limit was like 55! You have to remain vigilant on those roadways out there boy I tell ya. If there is a car’s worth of space between you and the car in from of you, the car passing next to you will squeeze into and then through it before their signal can blink twice. Its a mad house out there. Then, as you drive along, there are so many little accidents that the state has tow trucks running up and down the highway pulling cars out of the way of traffic. This combination of factors makes me a bit uneasy about driving there but it makes my wife (Favorite) flat out nervous.

She drove there despite her apprehension while I did some had planned on doing some work on my computer. We were expecting a call from her friend who was supposed to meet us there. I said “its not too late, lets just head downtown and walk around and see if she calls.” Really, I had been a bit lazy in preparation and hadn’t booked the hotel yet and figured that would give me enough time to. The plan was go out to the club that night, go to Six Flags in the morning and then spend the next couple of days enjoying some of the other attractions of The Windy City. We went downtown but didn’t get out. The friend hadn’t called, we were tired, and I had finally found a place to lay our heads for the night. Favorite asked me if I wanted to drive, I declined, offering to drive all of the next day. Besides, she was doing fine.

The GPS guided us to the 90/94 interstate where we were met with heavy Friday night traffic. I was reading more about the hotel when I felt the car slowing down. I could have sworn we had pretty much just got on so I looked up to see what was going on. “Oh, this whole lane is slowing down” I thought to myself, noticing all of the brake lights in front of me. I looked back down at my phone and switched to Facebook. I clicked on a video and waited as the screen turned black……BOOOM!! My phone left my grasp. My head flew forward then slammed against the headrest and repeated the cycle once more. Initially thinking, “Oh shit, I should have drove,” I looked left and yelled “WHAT DID YOU DO?!! She shot back “I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!! WE JUST GOT HIT!!

I looked in front of me still expecting to see a bunch of car parts all over the street. I was confused. There was two or three cars worth of space between us and the next. It was then I heard the repeated blaring of a car horn and saw synchronous lights flashing from behind. We HAD just been hit! I was in shock and frankly, with the sound and force I had just experienced, I was afraid to turn around. I felt a strange feeling in my body which I assume was the adrenaline beginning to fill my veins. I finally asked Favorite “Are you alright?” “Yeah, I think so. What about you?” I shook my head, “Yeah…I’m ok.”

I wrote this to remind myself and others that sometimes life will all of a sudden get hard and unexpected might happen things happen. Still, this shouldn’t stop us from pushing forward and strive toward living our lives handsomely. At times it might hurt, but we’ll be ok.

-Handsome

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