|Totaled. Note the intact windshield.|
I don't know if it is a blessing or a curse. Maybe it's an artifact of being so long a fireman. But I don't immediately respond in an emotional manner to catastrophes. Instead it is delayed, while I get into the details. I have worked out Mike's leave from his job, and faxed the appropriate forms. I've been on line with MetLife, arranging his STD pay.
No, get your mind out of the gutter. It stands for Short Term Disability.
I've notified the Known Universe of Relatives. I've kept a diary of doctors and procedures. I've stripped his bed and done his laundry at his house, and pondered the complex futility of paying his bills on time without a power of attorney. I've recovered the contents of his saddlebags from the wreck, filed a claim, and documented the damage. I've arranged to receive an official accident report, and interviewed the officer first on the scene.
I'm running out of things to do. Things to keep me busy. It is only the surgeons who really can help him, and that leaves me staring at the walls of his room, feeling increasingly useless while trying to remain civilized and polite to well-wishers. He's going to need them.
The first jitters came visiting when I saw the wreck on Monday. Looking at that flattened front wheel made it real. I could see it from his point of view. And then I saw the helmet. I got the shakes.
He wore a full face helmet. He was just driving with the traffic. As he slowed approaching the signal at the intersection, the light turned green, so he proceeded through. Facing him in the other lane, an Isuzu Trooper abruptly turned left right in front of him. It was too late to stop, but apparently he tried. He collided with the passenger side of the vehicle. He flew off the bike, somehow clearing the windshield.
He landed on his right side, heavy leg bones snapping and bursting from the skin. And then he slid on his face. You can see the white crack on the chin bar of the helmet.
The helmet defines and outlines his facial injuries. He was injured wherever the helmet was not, a Lefront type 3 fracture running from one temple across the orbits of the eyes and the bridge of the nose, to the temple opposite. His face below the eyes and above the jaw has broken loose from the skull. His jaw and teeth were undamaged where the helmet protected him. His brow is intact. His brain sustained only slight internal bleeding.
I think that $400 helmet I kidded him about paid for itself. I just couldn't see it at the time.
One by one, surgeries are correcting the damage. It is estimated that he will be in hospital for at least 6 weeks after all surgery is complete. If all goes well. His jaw will be wired shut that long. Possibly 3 months. Then there will be months more of therapy.
Mike had a tediously slow and careful approach to riding. He wore his helmet and gloves every time. I kidded him about being slooow when we were in Arkansas. I could stop, fill up with gas, and go in to pay while he was still shucking his gloves and helmet. But he paid me no mind.
When someone turns in front of you, it doesn't matter how careful, how methodical, how thoughtful you are.
Car 1, Motorcycle 0. Every time.
Tonight I got the shaky blues again, sitting on the back porch, smoking a cigar. Trying to relax. I could just see him sitting in the chair opposite, sipping a beer as the sun went down, telling me about some character at work.
Mike is good company. But he won't be telling stories for a while.