My fourth of July weekend was full of laughter and joy and loud fireworks (and illegal fireworks) and wonderful food and amazing friends.
It was also full of some challenging moments because I went back to the boat.
The boat is parked at a friend’s house on the creek…the same house we drove the boat back to after hitting the tree and where the EMTs carried me across the grass onto a stretcher to get me into the ambulance and down the dirt road to the hospital. We were going there this past Saturday for a BBQ. I knew we were going, obviously, but the second the truck pulled onto the dirt road, I immediately had a flashback.
I didn’t expect it, I really didn’t. I was so surrounded with love and support I just assumed it would be weird and difficult and uncomfortable, but never for a second did I expect that the tears would start flowing on their own and my heart would beat so fast I couldn’t breathe. Bear parked the truck and we sat it in for a while. I peered out the window towards the water. I’m not sure what I was remembering specifically. I just know it felt like a weight pulling me down into the ground and fear was dancing on my eyelids.
Once I finally got out of the car, I think I stared out over the water for a while. The boat was parked around the other side of the property so I couldn’t see it yet. I could only see the grass leading to where the ambulance was parked. I kept looking for parallel lines in the grass from the stretcher’s wheels…as if they’d still be there after 10 weeks.
After a few minutes it was time to take the long walk to where the boat was parked. Bear’s mom and I decided to walk over by ourselves first. It was a long walk. Hard on my leg. Unnerving as we approached. And then…there it was. Floating in the water, all empty because the tree had effectively ripped most of the front elements out or off. I’ll give you my experience in pictures, as I know of no other way to do the moments and feelings justice.
I walked the length of the boat several times, looking for any clues as to how in the world this happened. Of course, I know how it happened. But looking at the boat, at what’s left, it doesn’t seem real. I asked questions like, “Where was the tree afterwards?” Bear told me a big branch was lying in the back of the boat and the rest of the tree was behind us on the beach.
“Why is the oar cracked?” I asked.
“Because just before I jumped out of the boat to push it in the water, the biggest spider I’d ever seen in my life was crawling toward your head so I smashed it with the oar,” he replied. He wasn’t kidding. “I didn’t think you should be worrying about a spider the tree dropped off while your leg was broken…”
Good call, Bear.
“How did you get the Bimini top?”
“I came back for it a few weeks after the accident. It was hanging in the tree.”
I stopped asking questions after that.
I left everything there. I spent the rest of the afternoon eating amazing ribs and texas caviar. I drank beer and decided not to push the sadness out of my head but instead to just let it come and go as it pleased. It went more than it came, but when it did I dug right into it. I got sad and I got mad and I got scared. But, I also made a new, more recent memory. I enjoyed a day with friends near the water, I drove out in the car of my choice (not an ambulance), and I STOOD on the boat where I last could be seen laying there. It will take a few more new memories before I will feel confident going there again, but the hardest one is over.