It doesn't matter how many tragedies we see on television, hear about on NPR, or learn of through word-of-mouth. When you get a phone call from a family member, telling you that a tree has fallen on your cousin, it always feels different. Real different. And real scary.
Because I got that very phone call last night, I didn't know what kind of piece I'd want to write about in my blog today. If any. There's a fine line between publishing key parts of your life and callously or gratuitously sharing the fears of a family in a time of tragedy. Mostly I'm just processing. Sharing my thoughts as I always do in this blog.
Since several of my family members have been working for some time in the cleanup efforts that resulted from Hurricaine Katrina (which still, miraculously, continues...and continues...) I suppose there are a certain group of occupational hazzards that might be expected. My aunt said to me, "When they told me he'd been hurt, I knew it was a tree or a chainsaw." Turns out it was a tree. A really hugemongous one. Nothing I've ever had to even consider in my own life, but they face it every day.
After my uncle cut him out from under that tree and held him for the excruciating 20 minutes until rescue workers arrived and were able to airlift him to the hospital, he had emergency surgery. Mangled intestines had to be removed. Lots of 'em. And one of several broken ribs had punctured a lung. There were also fractured facial bones and a separated pelvis...none of these sound like anything I'd like to experience, my cousin took 'em all on at once. Then lived to tell about it!
Now get this - when my aunt and uncle left him today after their visit, some tubes had been removed, he was sitting up and talking, and eating ice chips. Thanks to all those prayers, no doubt. And a tough as nails disposition, by the way. This dude is incredibly resiliant. The doctor told his parents that most people wouldn't have survived his injuries. My sister said, after expressing grief and shock, "He'll be fine." I asked how she knew. She said, "Well, didn't he used to fall off of the back of trucks and stuff?" Probably. And horses.
So here's the reminder in all this. And lessons. One more time, since I am apparently not really getting the message: if people are important to you, tell them. It seems I've had too many reminders of that lately, and yet apparently I just haven't heard enough. 'Cause do you think he and I have seen each other? Nope. And we haven't talked on the phone in ages, either.
I really hate that. I can't tell you how much I love my cousin. Remembering that now more than ever. Last night was really scary. In the midst of the strong reassurances and positive thoughts and faith that things would be all right, I realized it almost hadn't been. Regardless, as you and your loved ones can no doubt relate to, we have such busy lives. It's hard to make time.
Gotta' make more time.
Meanwhile, any prayers and thoughts you want to send up will be much appreciated...