Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The invisible Man


Sunday June 5th, 17:41,
Text message from Jackie: Don't panic, Andi's Rob has been in a serious motorcycle accident & has been airlifted to Calgary. Dani and Andi r on their way up and I will keep you posted.

My moms calling. Fuck. I'm bridging an Aircraft at D41. I answer and she asks me how I'm doing, I say "not good, but I can't talk cause my plane is here". We hang up. (Prior to this call, we hadn't spoken in 5 weeks. due to the fact that in an alcohol induced argument, she told me how she thought my entire life was a fuck up.)
I walk to the bottom of the bridge and see 'Truck Stop' on the ramp getting the TUG in place. He looks up and smiles...but with tears streaming down my face...runs up to the bridge and asks whats going on. I can't breathe. In a broken voice I try and talk and tell him. I'm breaking down and hes there to catch me. The sound of the engines get louder and I cant hear myself think. I don't want him to go, but he has to marshal the aircraft I am set to bridge. The next few minutes are a bit of a blur, and quite frankly I have no recollection of how I moved a building within an inch of a multi-million dollar airplane. The doors swing open and in true WestJet fashion, there is a smiling flight attendant who's face went from 'HELLO!' to 'Oh shit' in under .1 second. I ask how the flight was trying to be strong and she says 'It was good, quiet. Are you ok?'...I say 'No, but yes. Lets offload.'
I make a point to walk up to the top of the bridge first, as I do not want any of our guests to see my  red eyes and my ugly cry.
The phone will be an appendage for the next 20 minutes. I'm gathering information, sobbing and have a mental picture in my head so clear it makes my heart race. My sister is coming to pick me up and I've let DDC know I'm going to leave. As I pass through the hallways of the airport, I'm trying to hide my face. Chris comes over and strokes my back and tells me to breathe, that things will be ok.

I bbm my cousin Andi: Be strong baby girl. Rob is tough.
Andi replies: Thanks love, it just feels like a bad dream.

She honestly could not have said it better. It does feel like a dream.

My sister rounds the corner on Departures level and I immediately start to cry. I get in her car and tell her I love her and we talk about how surreal this is. I say, this is probably the longest drive to Calgary Andi will ever have. She agrees and we sit in silence for a few minutes.
My thoughts have now shifted from the dream like state of the accident to the fact we are 5 minutes from my Moms. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do. Right now is obviously not the time to discuss what happened in the month prior to today.

We all sit in the living room and there is a bit of small talk. I see my sister get up and leave the room and head to the kitchen and open and close the back door, she must be heading out for a smoke and a Bud Light Lime. I want to go out with her so badly and ignore the uncomfortable tension in the room but I know...this needs to be dealt with. Now. To my surprise my mother gets up and walks out of the room. She putters about and places what sounds like plastic Safeway bags in the drawer and runs the kitchen sink for a second or two. All of a sudden I sense her stand behind me and feel her hands on my shoulders. Complete silence. It makes me cry silently until my lungs need air and my body convulses in a hard whimper. The only words that are spoken are from me and I say 'You really, really hurt me, Mom'. She starts to cry and says over and over she didn't mean it and she truly in her heart doesn't really think my life is a fuck up and she loves me so much it hurts. We both know alcohol was the culprit in the ugly words that spewed from her mouth and agree that its not an excuse but somehow, for whatever reason those 7 words slipped past her lips and cut me open.

Its done. Its over. There's no bitterness. There's no pointing fingers. There's no going back. We bring it down to earth again and realize there are more pressing, deeply serious situations happening right now. For the sake of those horrific and sad circumstances, all is forgiven in an instant.

We arrive at the hospital and learn Rob is in very critical condition. As the result of a dirt bike accident, he's in surgery where Doctors are trying to stop the bleeding that has already released 2.5 liters of his blood into his body. He's got himself 2 broken legs, a break just under his hip, a few broken ribs and completely severed his spinal cord. Rob's Father is white as a ghost and goes on to tell my Cousin Andrea and my Auntie Dani that he will be paralyzed from at least the waist down. The nurse takes us to a room where we all sob and hug, pass kleenex and pray. Plans are made to bring his sister in from |Kelowna and I ask Tim (Rob's Father) who is picking her up? He looks at me confused and almost like 'oh yeah...thanks for mentioning that' and he says he doesn't know yet and it's a detail that is not yet figured out. 'Let me get her' I said, 'I'd be happy to.' I ask Tim if she knows the details yet, namely does she know he's paralyzed. He says no, he wont tell her till she gets here. I go with my sister and and we wait outside Arrivals and talk about what I'd say if she asks whats going on. I agree to keep the conversation light and airy. This will be a very difficult drive back to Foothills.

She sees her Daddy and they both burst into tears and embrace the moment they see each other.  It sends shock waves through me and I hope with all I have, that I will never have to be standing where they are, for the reasons that they are.

Hours pass and I no longer know what time/date it is. A handful of us go look at the x-rays and I feel like I'm looking at film stock frame by frame. The black and white images on the screen look horrific at best. They save the one of his spine for last and I couldn't help but gasp. I have no control over my hand or my breath and realize I've placed my hand over my mouth to hold in the gasps that come from within. This image is burned in my mind. You don't have to be medically trained to know that this is not a good situation. The realness sets in at that very moment.

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