Thursday, October 9, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness

The word kindness is often seen as a description of someone weak, ineffectual.  In my lifetime I have seen that kindness is the truest measure of character.  People who are genuinely kind usually carry that kindness through to the rest of their lives.  Kind people do NOT seek to control anyone!  Kind people do not beat their children.  Kindness is loving, warm, and encouraging.

Living in Utah I have personally witnessed an exception to the above paragraph.  The people that I meet in stores, medical clinics, and public places in general are always extremely kind.  Then how is it possible that those same kind people climb behind the wheel of a car and turn into selfish, unkind, self absorbed drivers?

I have lost count of the times that I have been cut off, charged over, or even hit, and the driver did NOT know that anything had happened.  These drivers consider themselves the most important person on the road, and others had better just watch out for them.

My hubby, daughter and I were driving north bound heading to visit our other daughter at college.  There was road construction but not a lot of warning signs.  Suddenly out lane just quit!  No warning, no way to continue forward without hitting many dangerous things.  The driver on our right did not even know we were there!  She was merrily chatting away on her cell phone, completely oblivious to the emergency situation to her left.

I was ever so grateful that my husband with his amazing reflexes was driving.  He managed to keep from running into the chatty lady.  On the other hand it drove us into a couple of cones and broke off our rear view mirror on the driver's side.  We continued to drive north.  We saw the woman again 10 minutes later, and she was still chatting away on her cell phone, not even aware that she had caused an accident by not being aware of the drivers around her.

The worst example of all was the accident that my family experienced.  They were in my daughter's old clunker car.  It had stalled on the freeway.  So they were in the emergency lane with the flashers on.  They were letting the car coast to get as close to home as possible.  With towing charges per mile they were aware of each mile.

A nineteen year old boy hit them...on the rear, right side of the car.  He did not even brake.  He was traveling at 75 miles an hour.  The impact was so extreme that it flipped the car completely around, and forced the trunk of the car on the right to move forward and encase my husband in metal hell.

In the aftermath my daughter who was driving could not find her cell phone to call for help.  Her Father was dying, her sister's arm was shattered, and she was in shock.

The boy came to her car door (she didn't want to leave her Papa and sister) and said, "Are you all OK?"

She responded, "NO, we're NOT!  I can't find my cell phone.  CALL 911!"

This happened three times in about 20 minutes and the boy still didn't call 911!  Did I mention that my husband was DYING? 

Finally my daughter was able to locate her cell phone, and miracle of miracles it was working.  So SHE called 911.  It took an hour and 45 minutes to pry my hubby from the jaws of death.  He broke all 12 ribs on the right...some of them were shattered to dust, five levels of his back (they had to rebuild his back, he lost an inch and a half of height), broke his right arm, and his right shoulder, punctured his lung (amazing that he didn't puncture both lungs with those sharp shards of ribs floating about), and had numerous other internal injuries.

It was a miracle that he survived the accident.  He spent six weeks in the hospital.  Then he spent six months trying to let his back heal.  His ribs NEVER healed.  I believe that his life was shortened.  He only lived another two years and then died at 54 years of age.

Our daughter in the left side back seat had been leaning to the right half asleep.  It was 1:35 in the morning.  They had been playing board games with some of our family.  The impact shattered her right arm, and damaged her occipital nerve.  It also damaged soft tissue in her right shoulder, and damaged several portions of her back.  She now lives with constant, unrelenting, chronic pain.

Our other daughter was driving.  She had the least amount of visible injuries.  The injuries that couldn't be seen, or quantified by a CT scan began to become apparent less than a year later.  She too will live with chronic pain all of her life.

I was supposed to be with them that night.  If I had been, either I or our daughter would have been seated behind my husband.  Anybody between Nyle and the trunk would have been crushed.

So, we counted many miracles.  All three of them should have died.  I actually had an EMT come find me in the ER.  He explained that the previous week he had attended an identical accident, and all three of those travelers died. 

Nyle did live another two years.  His injuries were so massive that he suffered with them for the next two years.  On the other hand we were ever so grateful to have him with us for those next two years!

Our oldest girls injuries became worse and worse.  Her shattered arm did not heal properly.  A surgeon re-broke it and put pins and a titanium plate inside.  He did a miserable job and it left her with what she calls, "Robo arm."  She can only use it in very specific ways.  She used to play the violin...she has not since.  She is brilliant and has found many, many ways to compensate for the new normal she has, but she lives with pain, every single day.

The boy said that he just looked away for a moment.  The moon was brilliant that night, a golden orb floating in and out through clouds of silver.  I know, because I enjoyed the moon myself that night.  I don't believe that the boy was doing any such thing.  He was texting.  The boy claimed on Facebook that his favorite thing was his Blackberry.  There is nothing wrong with that, except when you are using it while driving a car late at night going 75 miles per hour, and driving in the emergency lane of the freeway instead of the freeway lanes.

We were inundated with kindness as we moved through this tragedy.  My husband had so many injuries that it was close to impossible for regular nursing care to be sufficient.  I stayed with him for most of his hospitalization.  This was excruciatingly hard because both of our girls, though they were adults, were struggling horribly.

Dear friends of Ardis' came and stayed with the girls.  They made certain they had medicine when they needed it, fed them, and helped them through that ever so difficult transition.  Having them step up when they were so desperately needed made it possible for me to stay with Nyle.

The nursing staff at the hospital were amazing!  The male nurse assigned to Nyle watched over him with the care of a Papa Penguin.  When Nyle was so desperately ill, fighting for his life, Josh was there...teasing Nyle into doing things that he might not have done otherwise.

Nyle had written a song before the accident.  The title, "You Can Go to Hell or You Can Drive in Utah, Either Way it's Just the Same.)  The irony is that Nyle and I learned to drive in this fair state.  We are/(were in Nyle's case) both excellent drivers.  Unfortunately, the scales have tipped.  It seems as our population increases and our roads widen the drivers become more and more selfish.

I will end this post with the lyrics from Nyle's song,

You can go to Hell or you can drive in Utah
Either way it's just the same
You can go to Hell or you can drive in Utah
Either Way you've got the Devil to blame!

The idea that I prescribe to end this trend is, random acts of kindness.  Be aware of the cars around you!  Get off your cell phone, never, EVER touch your texting screen while driving, and remember that in reality you are driving an enormous weapon of mass destruction.  How will it make you feel if your urgency to get ahead of another driver, or impatience with someone trying change lanes or merge ends in a car accident?  The driver that you have hit is dead, or maimed for life.  You are left with crippling, chronic illness.  Is that extra 3 minutes that you earned by cutting someone off worth living the rest of your life in either situation?  Or worse, worth giving your life up for that selfishness on your part?

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