Personal

Processing Shock

One of my best friends was hit by a car a little over a week ago. She and her partner were walking to an event at the local amphitheater and were in the crosswalk when an SUV hit them going fifteen mph. While that doesn’t sound like much, it knocked both of them to the ground. They both ended up with bruises, abrasions, and several fractures.

Luckily, they’re both back on their feet, although incredibly sore. Between the two of them they have five fractures and about a dozen stitches, but no head trauma.

She called me the next day to tell me about it. As soon as she opened with, “Don’t panic, we’re both okay” I knew something bad had happened. I felt as if an abyss opened up in my torso. It was a combination of fear, dread, relief, and more fear. It’s these exact moments when you realize how quickly things happen. And how quickly things can be taken from us.

I didn’t panic, but I immediately went into protection mode. I wanted details – what did the doctor say? What about the nurses? Did you get written instructions on what you’re supposed to do? What do you need? I was ready to head out the door to pick up whatever they needed from the pharmacy or market. Laundry? Vacuuming? I’m on it. I was ready.

The two of them have a good circle of friends. A bunch of us chipped in and brought them food, went shopping, ran errands, and worked at keep their spirits up. That’s one of those times when your faith in humanity is restored. Seeing people drop whatever they’re doing in order to help someone – friend or stranger – makes me feel as if there’s hope for us yet.

I know, this is personal and not necessarily related to writing or creativity. I’m writing this partly because I just wanted to get it out of my head. Writing in my journal is helpful, but I thought something like this should be shared. It’s possible you’ve gone through something similar, and if not, then maybe this might help you to understand when it does happen to people you know and care about.

Even though I wasn’t there, I keep playing the scenario over in my mind. I see the two of them walking across the street. I know the exact spot. I’ve crossed there myself many times over the years going to see concerts and other events. I see the SUV hit them. For some reason I see it as a black one with tinted windows. I have no idea what it really looked like. I see the vehicle stop, the other people on the sidewalks running over, people pulling out their phones to call emergency services.

All I have is my friend’s version of things, and she admits they’re fragmented due to, you know, getting hit. So my mind has taken over and created this entire scene, all the details. I see the other cars on the road, the variety of people walking along either side of the street. I see the trees and streetlights and hear all the voices and traffic.

I guess that’s how I’m processing it, by re-imagining what happened, giving it life in my head. I’m not sure if that’s considered healthy, but it seems to help. I guess that’s the downside of having a vivid imagination.

I have a feeling this is going to develop into something. Maybe just a scene in a story, maybe the catalyst for a story. Most of my stories begin as a “what if” scenario. In this case, what if I have two characters get hit by a car? Why were they hit? What are the repercussions? And down the rabbit hole I go…

I’m still getting over the shock of having someone I care about get hurt. It’s an unpleasant experience, as you can imagine, but instead of letting it eat at me I’m going to try and use it, write about it, own it. I’ll try to turn something bad into a positive. What else is there to do?

RB

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