It was a beautiful morning. Sun was shining, birds chirping, flowers blooming. I was a sophomore at Oklahoma Baptist University, studying Youth Ministry. I was also a 7th grade Sunday School teacher at the church I grew up in, FBC Harrah. Also, it was 10:45 am. I had missed Sunday School, and I didn’t tell anyone I wasn’t coming. Church would be starting in 15 minutes, and I wasn’t anywhere near ready to go, so I did the next best thing you can do on day such as this – I called my friend Jim and asked him if he wanted to go fishing.
He picked me up 30 minutes later. We stopped for bait and beer – after all, we were fishing, and it’s Oklahoma. We were going to Chandler Lake, about an hour drive. The beers were gone before we got there. For the record, Jim didn’t have any.
We were driving through Chandler, and I heard a noise in the back of the truck and saw that the minnow bucket had fallen over. Jim was distracted, and ran head-on into an oncoming vehicle. I was partially ejected through the front window of the truck.
Here’s a picture of the intersection where the accident occurred.
See the truck on the right, making a left turn? Pretend that’s me and Jim. There’s a stop sign there, because oncoming traffic has the option to go straight. On that day, the stop sign was turned sideways. We didn’t stop even though we were supposed to, and the oncoming traffic didn’t stop because they weren’t supposed to.
I was knocked out briefly. Jim had a seat belt on but I didn’t. Jim looked at me pretty weird, and I kept seeing something moving out of the corner of my eye. It was blood squirting out of my face. Both my arms were covered in blood, and my right leg as well. And blood was squirting from my face with every beat of my heart.
I got out of the truck, fell, tried to get up again and couldn’t. I sat for a moment, and remembered the minnows, so I pulled myself up and saw that the minnow bucket was not even there anymore. And that my brand new fishing pole was broken. That’s what I was most concerned about. I had ordered it a few weeks prior – it was $50! – and it had just been delivered on Friday.
A man ran up, asked if I was ok, I turned around, blood still shooting out, and he bent over and vomited. Then he gave me an old t-shirt to apply pressure. I passed out again, and when I woke up I was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Shawnee Regional – right across the street from my college.
It took 6 hours to pick all the glass out, clean the cuts and stitch them up. I had about 150 stitches total, and a wicked concussion.
What makes all this so funny (which it really isn’t) is that I was/am a known prankster. It was April 1st. I called my parents to come get me and they didn’t believe me. I called some friends from church – “Ha ha, you’re funny.” I called my Grandmother, and about an hour later she was there to take me home.
In the years since, I have toned it down a little just in case. It’s been 22 years. Jim is still my good friend. I don’t see him near enough – which is odd – even though I moved to Texas he still only lives a few miles from me, just like always. I don’t drink anymore. Well, I say that. Maybe 3 or 4 beers a year, maybe some bubbly stuff on our anniversary.
I still bear the scars from this. I see them every time I look in the mirror. I’m reminded that I shouldn’t joke around so much, and that when Sunday rolls around maybe I should be in church. I’m reminded how fragile life is, how I should not take it for granted. And I’m reminded how blessed I truly am.