The Headline


You never imagine seeing yourself as the headline in a news story.

“A hit-and-run crash on route 1&9... has left a cyclist with serious injuries...” Another article reads, “Authorities are seeking the driver of a container trailer who struck and seriously injured a woman cyclist on Route 1&9 Friday morning.” Despite seeing the physical result of that accident there’s still a level of disassociation you encounter upon reading those words.

You are aware in some way there was an accident, but you were not awake to see it in action. You wake up on the ground to find yourself looking like a character in a dramatized accident scene in a film, as your left leg is shaped like the letter L, and your bicycle is 10 or 15 feet away. You try to make sense of everything and you open your eyes once again to find a crowd of people above you.

You know there was an accident, but you don’t know how bad things are. The only thing you know is that you’ve been clipped by a truck. Through instinct, you aim to move yourself out of the road so you don’t get clipped again, but the people above you are telling you to not move. They ask you for your name, date of birth and other questions to ensure no significant brain damage has occurred. A woman cries as she is cradling your head, telling you everything is going to be okay.

It was five minutes to 8am on a Friday when you got hit. Waiting for the paramedics felt like a lifetime. You physically feel nothing as they place you on the stretcher. It feels like only one minute before you fall asleep in the ambulance. It feels like 24 hours before you wake up with faces over you in the ICU.

You spend much of my two months and four days in the hospital in unbearable pain, and five more months rehabilitating mostly in a bed. Three years was not that long ago, yet it seems like a distant memory. The body that was once athletic and active; the body that finally came to love herself seems like a distant memory. It is a body you’d come pretty close to no longer remembering, were it not for images.

You must accept the memories this new body has made, as your edema-laced brake halts the vehicle that transports you to and from your destination to the bathroom, the kitchen or to bed.

You adapt to this new life with one leg, but you never get used to it. Fate’s choreographer has coached a daily waltz of gratefulness, survivor’s guilt, hopelessness, depression, ideation and existential dread- sometimes all in the same minute. What makes the dance more difficult is the fact you have one left foot. Your dance revolves around the radio dial in your head constantly turning, because moments of dead air could mean... death.

You ask yourself if this is what life has become, as you find it increasingly difficult to sustain on a diet of isolation and loneliness. Such nutrient deficiency will lead to a brittle and atrophied heart.

Throughout all of this you think to yourself, “I almost died. I was left for dead.” But you survived. Your rationalization for whatever happened is that the universe has presented itself an opportunity for you to slow down. But your brain hasn’t received the message, as it works much faster than the new body you are encased in. You never imagined seeing yourself as the headline of a news story; however, it’s not true that you never imagined you’d end up losing a limb. Not knowing how you’d arrive at this place, approximately once every five years you’d randomly foreshadow such a tragic outcome.

And now we are here- the reflection of a past event you cannot alter- much of which has become a distant memory. You are now the author of various articles of confession, in a book where its chapters are contemplation, humility and tears. It’s the lyrical content of a song where you do a very slow (and assisted) two-step to the rhythm of life.

You almost left this earth in a flash, but you are a person.

You are a life- who lives...

You write the headline.