This week I witnessed a huge disaster that occurred super close to my home. It was a huge earthquake, second one here in Mexico in the last 2 weeks, which shook me right out of my chair. Fortunately, I did not suffer any damage to my home or injury to my body…but I watched some horrific videos of places within walking distance to my apartment, that left me speechless!
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I believe in karma. And I’m not just talking about doing good unto others so that good will find you. When I talk about karma, I also include the notion that bad luck finds us…horrible disasters or sicknesses that can not be blamed on a specific source might befall upon you or someone in your family. I believe in jinxing myself. I remember once in my life seeing the redundancy of it all and thinking how boring life could become. I spent the next 6 months experiencing some pretty horrible occurrences in my life as well as within the lives of my mother and grandfather, two individuals who were key to my young 12 year old existence.
I once mentioned in a previous blog how I had believed my grandfather had sacrificed himself for me…and maybe now is when I can tell that story…a story that is almost 30 years old.
When I was only 12, I was almost killed by a drunk driver who hit me while driving a truck through a red light and who never even saw me. I still don’t remember the day…I have vague images of what occurred that morning but nothing about what lead up to the accident, except what was relayed to me after the fact. I suffered a concussion that was allegedly the worst type without killing you and the real reason why I didn’t suffer the type of brain damage such an injury may have caused is because 2 doctors happen to have witnessed the accident and insisted that I be taken to Kings County Hospital, the best trauma center in NYC where I was immediately put into a seduced coma…something that probably saved my life.
It was during this time when my whole family was really just forced to wait to see if the swelling to my brain went down enough for me to eventually come out of the coma alone. Obviously, I’m still here so I must have come out of it ok, right? (Though I’m pretty sure some would swear that I might have days of forgetfulness that can not be explained.)
Anyway, once I woke up, my family insisted that I spend my recovery days at home. And these are the days that I remember most clearly. Because it was over the next two months when I had to really work at getting better and remembering how to get back on that horse again.
My father went back to work and I believe that my brother was in camp during that summer because I can vividly remember my Grandfather coming upstairs for lunch (we grew up in a two family house where my Grandfather and aunt lived below us) and it would be just my mother, grandfather and I each day. In the mornings, my grandfather would go to church, a true Italian Catholic who believed in prayer and sacrifice. And he saw how weak I had become and heard the stories from my mother about the damage to my optic nerve, leading my eye doctor to believe I may suffer vision problems indefinitely or the stories from my neurologists who were concerned about my balance issues or their fear of my possibly suffering seizures at any point.
But no matter what, he always arrived with a king-sized chocolate bar for me which he purchased for me on his way home from church that morning. And I remember always sharing it with him and my mother. But I was getting much better…by September, I was able to return to school and just imagine that my summer vacation had just been a nightmare that year. I remember I took my last painkiller the week before returning to school and all was well…I had learned to ride my bike again, my voice had returned and my vision problems had stopped getting worse. Then I had my last neurologist’s appointment in October and when my mother and I returned home, the strangest thing happened…we found my grandfather on the floor. He had suffered a stroke. Understand that my grandfather was 86 years old at the time, but he was never sick! He was as strong as a bull! For as long as I had known him!
We couldn’t get him up that day, though. It was so weird because that was not like him. He had been fine that morning! And because we couldn’t get him up, my mother was forced to call an ambulance to take him to the hospital to better understand what had happened. My grandfather spent the next two months in the hospital being poked and prodded by one doctor after another who could never understand what had happened until eventually he passed away a week before Christmas. (I saved his gifts for him forever…)
As a 12 year old…though I guess at that point I had turned 13…I did not understand what was going on. I was not raised very religiously so I was never taught that people died and went to heaven. (I believe we did have a dog that was indefinitely living on a farm upstate…but I’m pretty sure we always knew that was bullshit…like the story my parents told us about Santa Claus…I mean, we didn’t even have a chimney!)
Regardless, when my grandfather died, I didn’t understand the “Why.” I didn’t care about where he was, I just wanted to understand why he was no longer with us. I kept thinking, I had been so sick and weak and tired for so many months before that I had not been able to spend the right amount of time with him. Did he know that I loved him? Had I forgotten to tell him one time and that was why he had left us? Did he think I didn’t need him anymore? Was it his choice or was he taken from us? I was too young to lose my grandpa! Then I tried to make it into something positive as my mother kept telling me how we had meant the world to him. And I decided that he must have sacrificed himself to save me. I had so much wrong with me only 6 months before, I was the one who should have died! There was never anything wrong with my grandfather and someone like him should have been able to live forever!
So please forgive me, for maybe that is my sin of all sins…I decided back when I was only 13, that it was alright that he had died to save me, when in reality, I had never done anything to deserve being saved. That’s the cross I have to bear. And I apologize to anyone who suffers due to the natural disasters meant for me…which just keep missing. I hope to one day see my grandfather again so I can shake his hand, thank him for his sacrifice and to tell him how I much I’ve always loved him. I just hope I’ll end up in the same place as him.