Tuesday was horrible.
I was going to ride my bike to my appointments. The bright sunny clear morning sky cooperated as I headed north on E Street. Upon reaching the intersection of Highway 101, I waited for a green light.
Once it changed, a car heading in the opposite direction proceeded into the intersection, as did I. Yet, instead of going straight, the driver turned on to the highway and directly at me. Unfortunately, the laws of physics say only one object can occupy a space at a time; so when a 2,600-pound car and a 180-pound bicyclist collide at the same point in time, one of them will be moved. Of course, that was me — and in a rather forceful manner.
Upon the horrifying realization that there was no way to avoid being hit, time slowed down.
As I saw the automobile come into contact with me, I thought, “My life is about to change.” The only unknown was “How much?” As the front bumper impacted my leg, I sent up a quick prayer, “please let this be minor, and if not — please let it be quick.”
My bike fell under the car as I rolled on to its hood, smashing into the windshield. I vaguely recall the vehicle continuing to move forward with me on its hood, whimpering. What I later discovered was that I impacted the windshield with enough force to destroy it and was subsequently hurled 20 feet down the road. I remember crashing headfirst on the asphalt, shattering my bike helmet.
What happened next was nothing short of amazing.
As if guided by an invisible director, people descended on the scene from every bearing. Although conscious, I was — needless to say — confused. I couldn’t tell in which direction I was facing, nor from where the voices came, but I could discern individuals coordinating to direct traffic away from me. I heard cell phones click to life from those calling emergency services. Strangers ran to assist me, and one gentleman — an angel as far as I’m concerned — took my head in his hands to hold me still to prevent further injury, his calm reassuring voice a comfort unlike anything I can remember. With my head cradled in his grip, I knew I could “let go.” Even though there was no major pain, I was moaning, more out of fear. I wanted to sit up to survey what damage had been done to me but this Godsend of a man insisted I be still and he held me firm. He assured me help was coming and he would take care of me until then. The EMTs arrived within seconds, as did the fire department, and police. I felt embarrassed by all the commotion I was causing, and by blocking a major highway, but no one seemed bothered. Everyone was focused on helping me.
Someone asked if I was okay.
I quipped, “You mean aside from the obvious?”
He laughed; I cannot say how much that meant. That was a hint of normalcy and I so needed it. While the EMTs checked me out and loaded me into the ambulance, I couldn’t help but crack wise. It might not have been the traditional platform for a comedian but — what can I say — when the entertainment bug bites, you just gotta go with it.
The doctor who discharged me later called me the “Man of Steel.” He said, “For a 57-year old guy to take the impact you took and be able to walk out of this hospital on your own power means you’re either living right, or someone’s looking after you — or both.” (He also said the helmet saved my life.)
There has been an amazing outpouring of concern for me since the news got out. Everyone asks how I feel. When I woke up today, I realized I had aches in places where I did not even know I had places so my answer is consistent, “Sore and Grateful.” This could have ended with countless other outcomes and with so much more pain and suffering than I am enduring today. As many have pointed out (like I don’t know), I could have died. Yet none of those happened; none; just some abrasions, sprains, and contusions.
I am lucky beyond calculation.
As importantly, if it wasn’t for the kindness of strangers and the professionalism of the first responders, I’m not sure what would be today. All I know for sure is that I am indeed blessed, and I am reminded yet again that none of us exist in isolation. We come together to help each other and from that action, we become our own better angels. We are benevolent, caring, magnificent beings who — when push comes to shove — will do the good thing.
I don’t ever want to go through that again; that probably goes without saying. However in some unlikely manner, the faith it has given me, the hope it has provided me, and the reminder of what really matters has sincerely made Tuesday one of the best days in my life. I am grateful to everyone who helped more than I can ever express.