Amidst the Wreckage

Immediately after an extremely traumatizing and traumatic event, there is a discernible change in one’s thought process.  What was once important takes a back-seat to those that are important, but are often taken for granted.  More immediately still, are the thoughts that flooded my thinking.  While I was concerned with those things that I took for granted, I often give the appearance of being a cold and distant person.  It gave Christopher a cause for pause and made me have to think about being slightly more aware of how I was reacting in reference to the people around me.

One of my many flaws is the way I emote around others.  In a very old-fashioned brand of thinking, I am of the idea that public portrayal of emotion– or even non-public portrayal, let it be to friends, family, whomever– should be avoided at all costs.  This is because letting people know what you are feeling can be an insight into one’s weaknesses, making one vulnerable to the scheming of others.  Now, I would hate to be a pessimist and represent the belief that people are generally bad.  When it comes to question of whether or not people are good or bad, I have two strongly held convictions, one for which I quote Morgan Freeman.

“There are no perfect men in the world, only perfect intentions”

The second is concerning desire and want:  “One should always be aware of the negative his negative feelings.”

When dealing with people, particularly people whom are not well-known to me as well as those that are well-known to me, I never have these general ideas far from my thoughts.  I do this in an attempt to both be pragmatic and be flexible in my understanding of others and what they may want, as well as aware that everyone is in search of something for themselves, and not always through honorable means.  Without being on the defensive, I have always reflected a certain cautiousness coupled with an  undimmed and exceedingly sociable, charming, and likable character.  Those that know me might agree that when it comes to getting to know me, I can often be an alluring and intriguing conversationalist that piques the interest of those around me.  In my opinion, this can be mainly attributed to my vast set of curiosity-driven interests, an extremely good memory, and general fun-loving attitude.

However, in-turn those that have gotten to know me, also know that my self-directed opinions can be somewhat dark, macabre, and uncertain.  Not only that, but I often lack any kind of authentic emotions and can appear to be very vacant and devoid of real emotions concerning others around me.   When it came to the accident, this was no different and I seemed to have escaped inwards.  Christopher had told me that he wanted to run to me, hug me and hold each-other.  He had been severely traumatized by the rollover.

I am not sure to what I can attribute my lack of fear when it came to the whole incident, I can without any hesitation say that I was somewhat unaffected.  Even disturbingly unaffected as someone has relayed to me.

The vehicle had done an aerial in the air, after having struck the beginning of the guard-rail while traveling sideways.  I remember feeling the sensation of not being in contact with the road, weightlessness, and fear of the impending impact, after which the truck had rolled another two or three times before settling up-side-down.  my real fear had occurred when, calling out for both Rob and Pookie and hearing nothing but the still, quiet, cold.  Even hearing the sleet on the underside of the vehicle had an ominous kind of ring to it. I noticed how discomforting the loss of the hum of the engine was in its absence and the fact that I heard no one calling back at me for those first few instances was what I really feared.  There is nothing that can describe the dread and terror I felt welling up inside of me– the same terror that I felt when finding my Nathan those four years ago.  Since that moment I had never thought there was ever a time when such helplessness and dread would find themselves back into my life.  Even today, I cannot bring myself to thinking back to both this moment and that of finding Nathan without suppressing tears.  This time I was only scared of what I might discover not what I was going to discover.

In turn, the sudden elation I felt when I heard movement and the voices of both Christopher and Rob, echoing in return of my shouts was no bit short of the most amazing thing I could imagine experiencing.  Therefore when Christopher sought a bit of reassurance in me that we were alright, and a display of affection regarding that sentiment, it was not easy for me to show how satisfied I was.

We could have been seriously hurt or even killed but we weren’t

It was as simple as that for me and the fear of it all had very little lasting effect.  I’ve even joked about it.  It seems to me that I may lead a charmed life, albeit a jaded one.  Often, in wondering if there is a God, I feel that he is full of jokes and the cruelest ones are at my expense, but there is an irony in thinking God’s jokes as cruel because they would often display an equally kind side to his sense of humor.

Diane, who had seen the whole accident was a woman sent as a favor by the fates themselves.  I cannot explain her presence, with all that it offered and all she did for us, but she was the representative for a league of angels sent to earth.  As the aftermath of the accident unfolded, she waited patiently, wanted to make sure that we were OK.  Patiently waiting, she allowed us time to process what we could of the whole situation.  One by one we were checked out by nurses.  During that time i remember hearing that there were multiple accidents not a couple miles in either directions that had just occurred.  Not noticing the cold, we salvaged what we could from the mangled wreckage of the truck as Diane insisted we fit it into her car.

Looking back, I sadly remember having to leave certain items behind.  Many of which I have particular and fond memories involving this stuff.  While it was mostly clothes and jackets, I had kept them for myself after Nathan’s passing, a great many of the clothes that I have were his.  It was there on the side of the highway only miles past the Dalles,  amidst twisted metal, snow and ice that I left them.  From that place we were taken by way of Diane’s kindness and were brought to Portland. With weather far temperate than that from which we came.  The dreary, misty, foggy weather seemed to be somewhat warmer and temperate that I could ever remember.

Once in Portland, Diane insisted that we all stay at her house.  In light of the accident, she broke out a bottle of whiskey and we all served up shots to our good health and our survival of the journey through the treacherous conditions. Shots of whiskey!  Glad to be alive I shared in the merriment and good intentions for which the shots were brought out.  But I am partially of the belief that any kind of traumatic event should not be followed by drink or drugs.  Either way, the quickly down alcohol went well with hot tea afterward and put me right to sleep.  It was not until the following morning that the reality of what had occurred that night would set in, or the pain of it all.

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2 thoughts on “Amidst the Wreckage

  1. This really is quite a reflective post, Justin. I’ve found that over the last year as my life became really confused that writing and self-reflection really helped me. I wouldn’t say that I am a “God” believer or even a religious person but I have discovered that a “Buddhist” mindset has been extremely helpful with how I think. Neither pessimistic or optimistic……Just realistic. I too was in a REALLY bad car accident in 2010 where I flipped my car on 495 in Virginia, broke my neck (2nd vertebrae) and was extremely close to being killed. I wasn’t the same after this happened. I went through severe depression, confusion and even anger. It took me years to come to the realization that “I could have died or been paralyzed, but I wasn’t. I’m here.” I understand the whole running away from difficult things. I too am very guarded with showing emotion around people as I somehow think it shows weakness. Trust me, it doesn’t show weakness at all. This is what strong people do. I think one of the most important things that I’ve learned is not to hold onto the past but to be self-reflective as to understand yourself so you can move forward with the future. As you quoted from Morgan Freeeman “There are no perfect men in the world, only perfect intentions.”

    • Hey Gary,
      Thanks for your commentary on this. You are very right when it comes to being less-guarded according to one’s emotions. At different points in my life, which I will elaborate on further in my blog, I found great difficulty in reaching out for help when it really was just ridiculous not to, because I perceived myself as being weak. Certainly showing emotion has been a doubled-edged sword, whereby I had to get my gushing emotions under control because I was such a hot-mess. It was at this point I yo-yo’d. For a time I felt I could not or should not show emotion– but it would all build up again because I was not that strong (and few people are) and I would break again. The trick was finding the right people to share it with or how to express myself.

      I’m glad you are OK from your accident. While we all walked away from what nearly flung us into the icy Columbia River (my old Sony Ericsson w950i is presumed to have foundered there), all of us were without any serious where you were not. In fact, it sounds like the boundary between life and death in such situations is very thin and while we flirted with that line (unintentionally) you came damn near close to crossing it. I’m happy you got through it! These things do make us better if not for more, than at least for our simple new-found appreciation of life.

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