22 years ago today, I was hit by a car, and should’ve died. I was 9 years old.
It was a hit and run; the woman who hit me had been driving a golden Mercedes-Benz wagon, and was going about 35 mph.
I was struck on my left side and I flew 50 feet across the street, crashing into the concrete gutter with my head.
I have absolutely no recollection of this, that day, or much of my life before. It was right in front of my house on Highland Drive in Salt Lake City, UT.
My parents were both at work and my older sister was next door at her friends house.
I had been crossing the street to go to my friends house, who I was with, and show his mom one of those giant bubble makers. He darted across the road, and me, not looking up, followed.
When the paramedics arrived on the scene, I was still conscious, eyes blackening rapidly and not coherent despite being conscious. The first adult on the scene, I think, was my sisters friends mom, Chris. She’s who called the ambulance and my mom.
Chris had told me mom over the phone “CJ’s just been hit by a car, he’s ok, but you should get here now.” My mom dropped the phone and rushed home, arriving right as the ambulance was about to pull away.
One of the most powerful and first memories I have of my life, is looking at this incredibly bright light, no pain, no sensation, no thoughts. Just…light, and peace; contentment.
And then a surgeons face appeared from the right side of my vision and his eyes seemed to grow bigger with surprise, and I see a hand holding an oxygen mask coming down on me.
And then blackness.
I don’t remember much of my hospital stay. And the things that I do remember, my parents don’t. Like, having to change the sheets every night because I would wet them almost nightly. And watching Mr. Hollands Opus, almost daily. Eating Mac and Cheese for every meal. Stuff like that.
I was in the hospital for 16 days, the ICU for 8. I had broken both legs, the tibia and fibia in my left, and the tibia in my right. I had cracked my pelvis, and had a traumatic brain injury. As I said, I was conscious when the paramedics first arrived, and was reported to have gone unconscious on the way to the hospital.
At the time of being admitted, I was ranked 9 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, meaning moderate disability. I remained unconscious for 4 hours.
Until the day before Christmas, almost 3 months exactly from the accident, I was in a wheelchair. I remember my mom saying “Best Christmas Gift Ever!” And after that, I still had casts on my lower legs beneath the knees.
I went through months of rehabilitation, both physical and cognitive. The neurologist said that I would most likely sustain lasting brain damage, and that because of my youth, the plasticity of my brain could reroute processes around the damaged part, and that I would most likely not even notice.
So why am I telling you this?
Well, I don’t really know. It could be anything from highlighting the fragility of life, to the resilience of life.
Or I could take the stance of playing the victim – saying that I still have difficulty with processing auditory information, or pointing out the weird scar tissue left over in my body.
I could blame the woman who hit me, or I could take responsibility for not looking both ways as I cross the road.
I think it comes down to the perspective that we choose to have. In reading this, you can either feel sorry for me, or happy that I’m here today, as a handsome, healthy and successful digital entrepreneur.
Our entire life depends upon how we choose to see things.
Life isn’t about what happens to us; it’s about how we choose to respond to what happens to us.
We cannot control the weather, but we can choose how we feel about the weather.
We cannot control other people cutting us off in traffic, but we can choose to either let them in, or flip them off.
For me, I know that I am happier when I choose gratitude, or joy.
I am grateful for my life, my way, my path. I am grateful for the struggles and the challenges that I have had…the car accident being one of the easier ones I have had to deal with.
I am happy that I am surrounded by the opportunities that I have, and by all my loved ones, and that I know I have what it takes to create the life of my dreams.
Do I still struggle? Hell yeah! Do I still fall and fail? Absolutely. Do I always succeed and do things come easy to me? Not at all.
And I choose to be happy, so Happy I will be.
What do you choose?