I feel the need to write an update today, since I probably won’t feel like it next week. You see Wednesday, August 16th will be the first anniversary of Danny’s accident. One year. 365 days. I figured I’d take you back to that day and then give you recent news.
August 16, 2005. I’d just returned from the cafeteria at our offices and was about to begin a project for Bank of America. I was wearing XL maternity pants and a t-shirt and had a fan blowing at my feet trying to stay cool. I was surprised to find that there was not a message waiting on me when I got back from lunch; Danny was supposed to have called me. Knowing that he often got busy at work, I decided to wait for him to call instead taking the chance of interrupting him.
Beep-beep. My Nextel phone chirped, but it wasn’t Danny. It was my brother, Jonathan. Weird. He’d never called me during the day before. He asked me what my phone number was and then called my direct line. He took a deep breath and asked me where my office was located; 96th and Shea. “I’ll be there in a minute to pick you up and put you on a plane.” Another deep breath. “Danny’s been in a motorcycle accident and it’s pretty serious.” For a split second, I thought it was a sick joke. Then I guess reality settled in on me and the first thing I noticed was my hands started to shake, kind of like they’re doing right now as I type. I told Jonathan where to pick me up and then hung up the phone.
I wouldn’t be coming back here. I glanced around my cubicle and stuck a picture of me and Danny in my purse. Was there anything else that I needed to get? I called my friend and cube neighbor over, told her what had happened and gave her instructions; let our boss know what happened, tell security that my car will be parked overnight, here is where I ended on this project. Then, she let me lean on her as I walked out of that building, out of that job and not knowing exactly what kind of chapter of life I was about to walk into.
It was hot sitting out on the bench waiting for Jonathan to pick me up and I didn’t really hear all the words that my friend Jeray was saying. I just kept watching for Jonathan’s car. Was he close? Should I call him? Did he get lost? I can still see in my mind’s eye his car coming around the curve and stopping in front of me. I don’t remember if he got out of the car, but I do remember him talking to Jeray about my car. I hugged Jeray and climbed in the car.
Neither one of us said anything until we got back out on the road. Details about the extent of Danny’s injuries were sketchy. Jonathan was back and forth on the phone with my uncle who was trying to get me a flight. I got in touch with my dad; they were still working on Danny who was in an induced coma. He had broken ribs, a broken leg, internal bleeding and a head injury. I couldn’t bring myself to ask if Danny was going to live. I hung up with my dad and began to cry, sob really. I asked Jonathan if he’d hold my hand.
Holding my brother’s hand, questions flooded my mind, tears streamed down my face. Jonathan gently reminded me that all I could do at that moment was to stay calm for the child inside me. I wasn’t there with Danny yet and even if I was I wasn’t a doctor or a nurse. I had to wait too, just like everyone else at the hospital, but I was waiting hundreds of miles away.
We got back to the house and I went straight to pack my suitcase. Staring into the closet with all my clothes hanging color coordinated, I stopped at the black section. I made sure to pack two black dresses in case I had to go to a funeral. I was in la-la land. I had to stay calm for Corbin. I hugged my nephews’ necks and kissed them goodbye. I remember kneeling down and asking Davis, age 3, if he knew why I had to leave so suddenly. “Yeah, Uncle Danny got in a motorcycle crash.”
The plane ride was long, but at least it was a non-stop flight. I pony upped the five bucks to watch the movie. Lord knows I needed to get my mind somewhere else. After the movie was over, I stood to stretch, rubbed my lower back. I remember the nice couple across from me smiled and handed me extra pillows. “No, no. I’m okay. Thank you.” I’m sure I looked tired, worried whatever.
I sat back down at the window and stared out into the black night. We were flying pretty low and I noticed a soft white light kept flashing on the ground below us. What was it? Well, I figured out that there was a full moon that night and the light was reflecting off bodies of water on the ground. Wherever we were, there were a lot of them. And, at that moment, it was like the Lord whispered to me, “See? I’m right here with you. I’m taking each step next to you.”
I climbed to the top of the escalators, well, I rode the escalator. At seven months pregnant you don’t climb anything very easily. Anyway, as I crested the top I saw three bald heads, followed by three familiar faces; my dad, my uncle and Danny’s brother. I immediately felt safe, but afraid. Was it so serious that they all had to come? Had Danny died?
My uncle hauled to the hospital. It seemed like an hour before we were there. I sat in the back and held my dad’s hand. The butterflies in my stomach were going nuts. It was almost 2am when we finally got to the hospital.
Friends and family stood in the hallway waiting to greet me. No one stood next to each other; each person holding up their part of the wall, dealing with their own issues. It was thoughtful that everyone was there. I remember smiling and saying that I bet the next time they saw a Diaz in the hospital they thought it’d be me. I hugged all their necks and thanked them for being there, but they didn’t know what to say.
My dad walked me down the quiet, deserted hallway down to neuron-ICU. No one on the staff said a word to us even though it wasn’t visiting hours. I gazed in each room looking for Danny, but as I passed other patients in the ward, I knew it wasn’t going to be good.
Danny was in the corner room, lying in the bed, facing the window. Machines beeped, air whooshed from the ventilator, but it was so still in that room. I was scared to touch him as I just stood there taking it all in. My dad held me up.
Danny’s head was partly shaven where they’d inserted the tube to relieve the pressure building in his brain and also drain the fluid. There was dried blood in his ears, tubes down his throat. He wore a neck brace, IVs in his arm, a blood pressure cuff taking a reading every five minutes, a pulse Ox indicator on his finger. Electrodes were stuck to his chest reading his heart rate, number of breaths per minute. Danny had a boot on his left leg with a weight hanging off the end of the bed to keep it straight. And, of course, the road rash covered his body. But, even with all that, I looked at his eyes. Of course, they were closed, but he was still beautiful. Am I allowed to call him beautiful?
I went home that night because I knew I had to rest if not for myself, but for Corbin. After that first night, all the days run together in my mind. I thought he’d wake up as if he’d been sleeping, but as we all know, it didn’t happen that way. So, we’re about to hit the one year mark; the mark that doctors said would be the indicator with how Danny would heal. Knowing they’re the experts, I still stand that the Great Physician has authority. He knows.
Since the last update, much has happened and there is news and will be news to report.
First and foremost, I ask you to pray for Danny’s mother, Loida. Loida is scheduled to have a lumpectomy to remove a cancerous tumor in her breast on August 23rd. She will then have to receive chemotherapy treatments. Doctors are optimistic that the cancer was caught in time and should be resolved with the surgery and chemotherapy. Her attitude is great and her trust is in the Lord, so she walks confidently and at peace.
Loida is my fellow A-team member when it comes to Danny’s care and because of her recovery time, she is not allowed to lift anything. As a mother, I’m sure this is difficult for her, but realizing that it is the best thing to take care of herself, she will do as she has been instructed. Of course, it puts the rest of us in a bit of a frenzy to make sure we have all the bases covered between Danny and Corbin. We’re blessed to have willing hands and feet to help us, but it will be an adjustment for all of us.
Secondly, Danny had his worst outburst yet last week. He became violent and incredibly verbally abusive. Pastor Hewins was called in to speak to Danny and it just confirmed for me that this spiritual battle is as strong as ever. Since last Tuesday, Danny has not been as hostile as he was that day, but I have had to adjust my approach a bit with him. I wasn’t there to witness the full blown situation, but it was bad enough that I sat down with him and tried to set him straight. As a wife, it was difficult but necessary. I approached it from the angle of Corbin, trying to appeal to Danny as a father. I believe it worked, but I just hope he remembers somewhere in his brain. Please continue to pray for Danny’s spirit and his attitude.
Lastly, the same day as Danny’s outburst, I was at the surgery center with Corbin. All went perfectly and Corbin was doing fine the next day. Corbin has also started to crawl and is already getting faster and going longer distances. I find myself saying “no” much more often now. But, it is the best thing ever when I walk into his room in the morning and he peers over the side of the crib and smiles at me. He loves me and it does my heart good.
I love and appreciate you all that continue to pray for us and assist us in this time of our lives. I know what Community is because you’ve taught me. God bless you all!
Allison “Anniversary blues” Diaz