As I stood on the deck holding my left hand, I could feel the void and knew what had happened. I also knew I couldn’t look at it. I just stood there trying to breathe through the burning pain I felt in my left thumb.
With my eyes squeezed shut, I kept saying out loud, “It burns! It burns”! Within seconds John was at my side talking to me and leading me into the house.
Grabbing a towel from the kitchen, he told me to turn away so he could see the extent of the injury. Talking in quiet, hushed tones, he assured me everything would be okay; but I had a hard time believing him in that moment.
John wrapped my hand with the towel and put an ice pack on it and told me he’d be right back. What was probably just a few minutes felt like an eternity; so I called out to John asking where he was. He came back into the house and said, “Looking for your thumb, honey.”
When John and I got the news his sentence would be community service, we were overjoyed. Over the coming months, we worked side by side at the Boys & Girls Club repainting interiors, working with the kids and helping out with special money raising events.
I had been a volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club before, and it was a natural fit to pick that charity to help. John was in his element as a natural Mr. Fix-it and was happy to help out an organization in need.
I don’t recall why we made the decision for John to come stay with me after being released from the hospital. But there he was, stitched up swollen lips and broken teeth sitting on my deck drinking coffee from a straw.
He had doctor’s orders not to drive because they were still
trying to figure out the extent of his brain injury. So there I was waiting on him and nursing him back to health.
The guy who forgot he’d said, “I love you Loretta” to me the
night before the accident.
The one who was facing a felony charge for running from the
cops, and the man who now looked more like Sloth from Goonies than Michael
What the hell was I thinking?
As soon as she told me, “Yes, they brought him in, he is in the emergency room” my heart sank. I didn’t cry though. That’s not the time to cry.
Instead, I grabbed a jacket and my keys and raced to my car.
I don’t recall the nine-minute drive to the hospital. But I
do remember sitting in a chair in the waiting room for someone to give me
information about John.
When I’d arrived and asked the person at the reception desk
about him, she got a strange look on her face and told me I’d have to sit down;
that someone would be out to talk to me shortly.
I was afraid to ask any questions. If you don’t ask, you
can’t get unbearable news.
That morning John said goodbye and headed home to take care of some business. He wanted to make reservations at his favorite place in Pismo Beach for my upcoming birthday, and said he had a few other things to attend to.
We were so happy.
The night before, John told me he loved me just seconds before drifting off to sleep. We didn’t speak of it the next morning, but there was joy surrounding us we could both feel.
And it felt good.