In a spasm of bleak fatalism Sunday, during an evening walk with my wife, we talked a little about the time I almost died in 2005. We don’t talk about it much. The events are so layered, complex and branch into so many facets of my life that it would take a novel to detail. We were not dating then, but we were immersed in a complicated period of “acquaintanceship.”
Let’s just say I crashed my car in 2005 and…
There’s nothing like losing the first member of your childhood social circle at 56 to launch you into a fit of pensive doom.
I had a friend, Jon, we lost touch. Really, I lost touch. I’m one of those lose-touch kinda guys. I have a sort of friendship-ADD that causes me to disinterestedly flee comfortable relationships through a casual swelling aloofness that possesses me. I stop calling, writing, existing; it’s a horrible trait.
Jon was a good friend since 7th grade. We were close buddies in our high school and college years through about age 30, when I got married at 32. He was there again after my separation and divorce, at 39.
It’s a testament to how severely we lost touch that, after receiving a Facebook wall post that his memorial, a “celebration of his life” was being held on Sunday, I was completely taken by surprise and shock. I had no idea he died. In fact, he died in February, something that surprised a lot of people, apparently; he was a private guy. But if I had been closer I might have had a clue.
As my wife and I strolled in the cool Orange County air, we got on the subject of me. “Wow, you almost died,” she remarked as if rediscovering a long buried chapter of my life that we no longer had bookmarked.
I explained how I had no recollection during the three days of my medically induced coma, but the vague sensation of bargaining has lingered on the outskirts of my memory since. It’s a stain to this day and if I was religious I might explain that I was negotiating with God to allow me to live (or Satan on a more macabre level).
I lived. One of them heeded my desperate prayers. Or maybe the doctors just did a splendid job.
And hat tip to Subaru safety and a dose of good luck and maybe some ethereal intervention.
That period of time 16 years ago is a faded snapshot in my memory. I wore a cervical collar that over time became an unwelcome appendage representing an anchor to my tragic choices and destructive lifestyle. Even after the neurologist cleared me to remove it in October, I was hampered by many physical effects, but the worst thing was the loss of my driver’s license through the summer of 2007.
That’s right, my driver’s license was not just suspended by California. It was revoked, which seemed to imply a more grave transgression that was more irrefutable than a measly suspension. My BAL was stratospheric. The police report noted the strong odor of alcohol as they took the jaws of life to my car roof and dug me out of the twisted mess. The DMV, reserving the right to consider past incidents that the courts are constitutionally forced to overlook, was able to take into account a previous DUI arrest in 2004 even though it was thrown out due to a cop’s carelessness. Unencumbered by such foolishness, the California DMV brought the hammer down on me. They took away my driving rights (excuse me…privileges), ordered me to attend classes, meetings and other bureaucratic pow-wow’s, a procession of carefully tracked punitive obligations that stood between me and my car keys. Some wonderful and expensive lawyerly maneuvering kept me out of county jail.
I took a vacation day that fateful July Monday. I started with the booze early and continued through the evening, and ended when I wrapped my car around a tree. My friend was attempting to follow me from the restaurant where he had met me where I drunkenly told him to meet me. He saw me fly off the offramp, a real eyewitness.
He called my parents to alert them. For all he knew, for all they knew, I might have been dead. The rescue workers were scooping me up.
We gradually lost touch after this incident and that friend is dead now, and I live.
Whoever said life is fair? If it was unfair, it might be pleasant.