In February of 1987, I fell from a train and shattered my face. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me, although at first, I didn’t know it. I had thought I was happy… but I wasn’t. It took this miracle to bring me some clarity.
My jaw was broken in four places. Most of my teeth were broken, or knocked out. My chin was cut, my lower lip was severed on the right side, and a crescent-moon gash was opened above my right eyebrow. I felt blood seeping into my mouth, pressuring me to open my lips, to set it free, but this I did not do.
I crawled to the crosswalk, where a school-bus driver stopped and pulled me up into the stairwell. I could see by his face that I must have looked bad. There were no passengers aboard, and he drove me to the local firehouse. An ambulance came, and took me from there to the first hospital. The medical staff admitted they couldn’t help me, and I was transferred to a second facility, which just happened to have the right specialist present, during the last few minutes of his shift. Dr. Casino. He looked like the actor who played the dad on “Family Ties.”
I remember, finally, letting go and trusting… and at his coaching, spitting into a cup. I remember being fearful that what I felt in my mouth was actually my tongue, floating freely… thinking I would never speak again. But it wasn’t. My mouth was full of clots which had solidified into a mass of gel, and acted as a kind of bandage, slowing the internal bleeding. We found all the broken and missing teeth in that mass, except for one… which he located in my sinus, via a scan of some sort. As I sat upright on a cot in the emergency room, he went after it, using a long tweezer-like object. I sat as still as could be, amazed by the things I was feeling, and how we were interacting with one another. He pulled my right incisor back down, through my upper jaw bone, back into place.
I remember the things he said to me, and that I could not respond with words. We both kept good humor as he stitched my chin, my lip and my head. I also remember the exquisite pain coursing through my body like a tide. I was actually able to watch it, feel it as it came and went, and still I remained calm.
Shortly thereafter, I was admitted. The first of many wires were run through my bones and teeth. Once in bed, with pain meds injected into my thigh, I slept.
A few days later, that wonderful man would be back. We met again in the operating theatre, and he reassembled me like a giant jigsaw puzzle. I was under anesthesia, yet I was able to absorb a sentence of two, which I repeated to him later on. He was amazed, because the words I “heard” had indeed been spoken during the middle of the operation, while I was unconscious.
I remained in the hospital for about a week, until I insisted that I had to go home. I had to continue my life. It was about two weeks later when my then-husband said, in anger and disgust, “When are you going to stop being such a fucking invalid?” My mouth wired together, my right arm in a sling, I had been unable to toss a towel up over the shower-curtain rod. I had asked for help, and that was his response. Why? Because I was moving too slowly, and we were going to be late to a “party” he wanted to attend, which was three hours away.
The switch was thrown, and at that moment, there came a burst of clarity. There was no doubt in my mind. Although we had been married for seven years, and I’d wanted it to work, this man had become a stranger to me. I had done anything and everything he’d ever wanted… but now, I had to do for myself.
It took until 1990 to have most of my dental reconstruction done… and by that time, I had divorced him, obtained my driver’s license, got a dog, bought a brand-new candy-apple red car, worked two jobs, and got my name only put on the deed to what had been “our” house… which became MY home.
It’s twenty-one years later, and I have never been happier, more content, more secure. Never would I have made it to this point in my life had it not been for that fall… the “accident” which wasn’t “an accident.” It made me who I am.
Many times, when “something bad” happens, people ask “why me?” – but when something good happens, nobody asks “why me?” It should be “why NOT me” under BOTH circumstances.
All things happen for reasons. We may not know what those reasons are, but they are there nonetheless.