In the blink of an eye…
Life is precious. I’m not sure we really understand just how much until it’s either threatened or taken away from us.
At this time of year my family always remember my cousin, Lee who died on the 12th December from SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death from Epilepsy), he was twenty-four. My aunt, uncle, and cousin started a charity in his name called Lee’s Smile, and they have achieved incredible things with the money they’ve raised.
For obvious reasons, my aunt and uncle no longer put up a Christmas tree or do the festive things; they prefer to book a holiday and take in the sunshine, returning to welcome in another year. It was six years ago that we lost Lee and yet every Christmas the emotions bubble to the surface for all of us. In the blink of an eye, we lost a good-looking young man with a wonderful soul, and an unforgettable smile.
Last week our family dynamics were threatened once again when my dad was knocked off his bike by a lunatic driver doing 80mph down a 40mph road. At sixty-nine years old my dad is probably the fittest bloke I know – he’s certainly fitter than me at my sprightly age of forty-four! He is a member of a cycling club and goes out for a club run four times a week. These guys can cover over two-hundred miles some weeks. Unfortunately, they have lost far too many club members to road traffic accidents, and my dad came incredibly close to being added to the list.
My brother was able to get to the scene quickly, and he supported our dad as the ambulance arrived and dealt with his injuries. He accompanied dad to the hospital and even took graphic photographs of him being stitched back together (I’m really hoping he doesn’t prepare a slide show for viewing after Christmas dinner!)
I’ve been up to the hospital with my mum each day to check on dad’s progress, and I’m delighted to share with you that he is doing well. This is a miracle when you consider what he went through. He broke five ribs, his right knee, and shattered his ankle.
Chatting to him yesterday, he was able to tell me all about the accident and what happened when all hell broke loose. He remembers people running in all directions and lots of shouting. He remembers people crouching over him to check he was breathing, he remembers the sickening bang as the car hit him, and he remembers his eyes flying open as he hit the floor.
The driver, a young man in his twenties who was driving a powerful car, hit my dad then swerved into the oncoming traffic and hit another car before crashing into a brick wall. We are hoping to get him banned for life. The other car he hit had young children inside on their way to football practice. Fortunately, they were relatively unharmed aside from receiving cuts from the flying glass and being understandably shook up.
I’ll never forget that phone call from my brother to tell us what had happened.
Once we all knew he was alive and being looked after by the incredible ambulance crew and staff at A&E, each of us, my mum, brother, sister-in-law, my children, and I had our ‘what if’ moments. What if he hadn’t survived? In the blink of an eye, our family could have been altered forever. In the blink of an eye, my heart would have been broken in two. In the blink of an eye, four grandchildren would have been shattered beyond repair. Life is precious.
We hope to be able to bring dad home at the end of the week as he is making a satisfactory recovery. This is in large part to his level of fitness. His broken ribs are causing him a tremendous amount of pain, but this is being managed with medication. He can’t put weight on his ankle for six weeks, so we’ll be making sure he is comfortable and getting him anything he needs. Fortunately, my dad has a great sense of humour and an inner strength that I’ve admired all my life. He is my dad, he is my hero, and he is alive.
I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all the incredible messages of support we have received, not just from our family and friends, but from the online communities. I posted on my Facebook page how grateful I was that miracles do indeed exist and my post received one-hundred-and-forty-two comments. My dad read every single one, and he was so moved by the support and love (although he now thinks he’s a viral sensation!!), so thank you.
I wish you all a happy, safe, and joyous Christmas and urge you to hug your family, friends, and even a stranger if the need arises! Be kind, be caring, and be safe.