Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Everything changed 13 years ago

13 years ago tomorrow, in the afternoon of August 12th, I was just arriving from Idaho and rushing to the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital in Portland, Oregon. My sister, Natasha had been in some kind of accident the day before. I had very little info about what was happening since the was pre cell-phone revolution. All I knew is that she'd been in a car accident and my parents said it would be best if I come home. So I grabbed to first flight out, which was in the morning. I had a few drinks on the plane and I don't remember who picked me up from the airport. They were the first drinks I'd had on a while since I had been off sauce an racing triathlons. I remember freaking out a little on the flight, so I thought it be best if I take the edge off a little. I also remember thinking it's not gonna do any good by falling apart, so I kept my shit together.

The ICU was filled with Tash's friends. Must've been 70 kids scattered about. I don't even remember seeing my family for the first time, but I'm sure it was a crying mess. We were led into her room asap. By the time I'd gotten there, they were done with all the initial tests and crap. Wires, hoses, and tubes were hooked up everywhere. Monitors beeping away. Nurses scurrying around. She looked like she was sleeping, but with a towel wrapped around her head. She didn't look like anything was wrong. Natasha had been going to her 20th birthday party the day before, August 11th. She was in the passenger seat of her best friend's Honda as they were going through a major intersection. They were following another car when they got t-boned by a 55 mph drunken heroin junkie in an F-350 who managed to drive away and flee the scene before being caught a few miles down the road. The impact point was the passenger seat door pilar. Right where the seat's headrest is. She had a bunch of internal damage along with the head trauma. For the next couple weeks we ate and slept in the ICU. Friends were always around. One day things were good, the next they were dire. But all along, we kept planning for her recovery. I mean, come on, she's gonna live through this. A couple weeks go by, she hasn't woken up yet, but it seems like she's out of the woods. Docs say she's stable enough that I could probably try to get back to a normal life. That way I could take some time off in the fall and be around for her recovery.

So I go back to Idaho. To relive the stress, I go for a bike ride and cry the whole 2+ hours. Later, to get my mind off things, I tried to work that night I returned. I was a waiter and I was fucking worthless. I couldn't look anybody in the face without losing it. I was downstairs hiding out in the employee room of the Pioneer so nobody could see me when I got the phone call from Portland. I needed to rush back, things had gotten bad. I had been home in Sun Valley for all of 12 hours and I was heading back to Portland already. When I got back to the ICU, there was no hope. Doc sat us down and gave us the news...her shit was shuttin down. Brain, body, everything was fucked. Her head injury had rattled everything loose. There was no brain activity, there was no hope. We had to make the world's worst decision. For a lack of better words, we had to pull the plug. It was either that or have them try to revive her repeatedly until it didn't work. Breaking rubs, crushing guts, and basically beating the shit out of her until she was nothing. I don't wish this decision on my worst enemy. Not even the biggest piece of shit in the world, Chad Barnes. It's a horrible thing to have to chose between. The family gathered around and held onto each other and Tash for as long as we could. It was quiet. Lots of machines. I don't remember much talking or crying. We said goodbyes. The nurses walking around doing things. Unplugging things. Untaping tubes and hoses. Creating less and less beeps. Until there was silence. I'll never forget how quickly she got cold.

So here it is 13 years later. My shit's changed. I notice everything but don't really care about anything. It's all about enjoying every second we have above ground. Everything is important to me yet nothing is important. Except love. It really is all that matters. Nothing's worse than losing a kid. My parents are incredible, but they'll always have heavy hearts. Earlier in the day on August 11, 1996...before I got back to my house...before I'd gotten all the frantic phone messagess from Portland...I had been wakeboarding on the Magic Resevoir south of Sun Valley. I was chillin on the dock at sundown and I actually said to myself "this is the perfect life". Little did I know that in a little over an hour how much things would change forever.


  1. AGB, A Good Brother. "It really IS all that matters". What makes us stronger...

  2. Now that I've been reduced to a puddle of tears . . .

    You're alright, El Hefe. If, in the future, you tell me I said that I'll completely deny it: "I don't recall saying that!"

    I don't have any siblings, but you're making me see the beauty of a great sibling bond.