I rear ended a Toyota. Six years ago. I was driving the highway, John Conlee was on the radio singing “Rose Colored Glasses.”
I can close my eyes and recall the whole scene. It had been a bad week. A bad year. And it got worse.
A car ahead of me slammed its brakes. The tailpipe came toward me so fast I didn’t have time to say: “Holy Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!”
The crash was loud. I blacked out.
When I awoke, I was lying in the median. Paramedics were around me. I couldn’t remember my name. I was out of it.
“You’re gonna be okay,” the EMT said. “You’re just in shock. And look on the bright side, kid, at least you didn’t poop your pants.”
Thank God for small blessings.
They rushed me to the ER. No broken bones. Only bruises. A doctor shined a light in my eyes and inspected my neurological reactions.
He was a white-haired man who said, “Say your ABC’s backward for me, son.”
I closed my eyes and said, “‘Your ABC’s backward, son.’”
A good laugh was had by all—except the doctor, who charged an extra fourteen hundred bucks for laughter.
That night, I sat on the sofa with bruised ribs. The medication my wife had given me made me loopy, I was starting to see things. Julia Child, for instance, was on television, descaling a fish with a acetylene blowtorch.
I thought she was the loveliest woman I’d ever seen.
So my truck was totalled. My face was beat-up. My collarbone and ribs hurt.
It was the worst day ever. And I’d just come off the heels of what had been the worst month ever.
Weeks earlier, my longtime dream of becoming a writer had been squashed—I’d been rejected from an academic writing program.
AND: I had been turned down from a newspaper job. The editor told me my writing was about as interesting as a cat licking itself.
AND: I’d lost my job on a landscaping crew.
AND: our bank account had $91.23 in it.
Life couldn’t have been any sadder, I thought. I cried while watching Julia Child prepare salmon with cucumber sauce with a side of electric slide guitar.
The next day, was worse. My wife came home with a frown on her face. She held certified mail in her hands.
Her first words were: “The victim’s insurance company is suing you.”
I started crying so hard it made my head hurt. I’ve never been sued before.
The next day, I laid in a lawn chair in our backyard with my dog. I stared at the sky and felt sorry for myself.
I decided to write a story. I don’t know why. Call it the side-effects of medication, or just plain boredom. I wrote for six hours on a yellow legal pad.
When my wife got home from work, she laid beside my dog and me.
They are my family. And they held me tight. They’ve always done that.
When I finished weeping, my wife picked up the legal pad and read my story. Finally, she said, “Hey, this is good.”
“You know what you oughta do?” she went on. “You should post this on Facebook.”
And that was it.
Those few words. That car accident. My wife. That legal pad. Julia Child. My worst-day-ever became the best thing that ever happened to me.
Anyway, today I got a certified letter in the mail. After six years, the lawsuit from the car accident was finally dismissed.
I don’t claim to know anything about life. But I know that all it takes is one person to believe in you, and you will never be the same again.
Thank you, Jamie.
I love you more than you’ll ever know.