This weekend, after I got out of work at the hospital, we headed over to my youngest sister’s open house.
As we approached our turn near the party at my aunt’s house, we noticed something in the middle of the road.
It was a shoe.
A single, white men’s sneaker.
“Well, that’s weird,” my husband Ben commented. “How could someone lose one shoe in the middle of the road?”
I shook my head absently. “Yeah, weird,” I murmured.
We found out later that he had been on his way to see her.
My sister had wondered where he was all afternoon, maybe even growing a bit irritated when he wouldn’t return her texts.
The accident had happened right before we had passed by. He had swerved to miss a car that slowed to turn in front of him. Somehow, he was ejected from the vehicle as it threatened to burst into flames.
The fall crushed his lungs, broke his neck, back, collarbone, shoulder, and vertebrae. His right eye socket and facial bones were fractured, his skull completely shattered.
EMS was quick to arrive on the scene, rushing him to the hospital, where he remained a case of mistaken identity, his body so badly battered and swollen that staff mistook him for his father. They were quick to close the roads and clear the scene.
Except for a single, white sneaker, left forgotten like the ending of a bad fairy tale.
Today, my sister refused to leave the hospital. We’re all worried about her, but the doctors still don’t know the full extent of the injuries, so we understand. It will get worse before it gets better, they say. The surgery will be intensive and may necessitate a transfer, they explain. We’re trying to control the swelling in the brain, they say.
I think back to the time when I was dating my husband at her age, my high school sweetheart, just like her and her boyfriend of three years. Most days, our biggest concerns revolved around something so important as,
Would it be steak or chicken? Did we feel like going out or staying in? Why didn’t you call me last night?
The ridiculously easy, carefree days of dating.
They didn’t involve a phone call in the middle of a party; a heart-wrenching cry piercing the air.
They didn’t involve sock-clad feet sliding across the hospital floor, unwashed hair and an oversized sweatshirt pulled on at the last minute.
They didn’t involve a future, hanging uncertain in the air.
The accident makes me angry, that it happened to two young people on the cusp of adulthood. Two people whose biggest concerns shouldn’t be, will he open his eyes today?
I know life isn’t fair; but it’s supposed to be unfair to people other than your baby sister who you have to watch cry over the man she loves.
I want love to conquer all.
I want it to overcome weeks of surgery, months of rehabilitation, a lifetime of pain.
But the truth is, today, I am just hoping and praying that a young love, broken, challenged too soon, and shattered beyond recognition…
Can somehow be made whole again.
If you would like to learn more about Austin, follow his journey, or make a donation to help cover the costs of Austin’s surgeries and recovery (he was uninsured at the time of the accident), please click here. And thank you!
Chaunie’s Babble posts: