Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Odds: Kelly

Edited to Add: I wrote this on Saturday to post on Monday, but Kelly's house burned to the ground last night. She, her husband and her two children escaped with their lives. Please pray for my new-found Kelly and her family? I so appreciate it, friends.

: :

My phone whistles the sound of a new email. I'm sitting at my desk, and it's a blog comment, so I click through.
Hi Dawn, it's me.... Kelly. Every year at this time, I think of you...for weeks. I just happened to google you and somehow came upon this sight, pressed one button and BAM I saw "The Gate". It has been ten minutes, and I am still covered in goosebumps with my heart pounding at the sight of it, and the memories of that moment. How we made it through that is indeed a miracle. We were so young... and I remember it like it was yesterday. In slow motion, swinging on the gate, the bottom hinge breaking, worried we'd get in trouble, trying to move it, seeing it fall, seeing you run, watching it fall... horrifying. trying to lift it, looking around for help.... screaming gut wrenching screams, frozen but moving, looking desperately for help. running in circles screaming, then by some crazy miracle, watching those girls lift that thing off of you and slide you out. I cannot believe I just found all this... still trembling. Wow. I hope you get this message and know that you are always in my heart. Would love to reconnect. xo Kelly
I realize when I finish reading that I am no longer sitting but standing, trembling. I hear knocking, but it's only my heart, so I continue tapping out a frantic response wondering if she will ever see it. The earth's axis is oddly off kilter, so I sit to regain my balance while all my life swirls a slow vortex before me.

Her instant reply tells me she has not left the page. She couldn't, wouldn't. She's hopeful, and in short order we are on the phone screaming each other's name into each other's ear. The familiar sound is surreal.

What are the odds?


We connect on Facebook and synapses are firing, memories are flashing. We can't get enough of each other. I am a wreck. I can't work. Or sit. Or think a straight thought--for two days so far. It's the same for Kelly.
It happens like this:
Kelly's Status:   Today I have reconnected with a long lost childhood friend, Dawn Crowninshield Gonzalez. We went through a horrible and terrifying event when we were just little girls of 10. Lost touch years ago, but on the anniversary every March, I think of her and remember. Today I decided to do another search for her, and somehow stumbled upon a blog she had written just a few weeks ago, on the anniversary, and just like that, we were on the phone. Don't ever doubt the power of the universe to bring things back to you...good and bad. Amazing.
~~
Dawn: Kelly, the anniversary is really March 3. I'm having trouble working today...so glad you found me. :) Really grinning ear to ear.
~~
Kelly: oh believe me, I know the date... Amazing to talk with you!!! Will have to spend some time catching up on everything. Looking forward to it! xo
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Dawn: This is making me want to get on a plane and head straight for Boston. I called Wayne to tell him, because I couldn't stand it. It's like Christmas!
~~
Kelly: I know!! I wish we could go for a long lunch!! Do you ever come up here???
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Dawn: My dad lives in Boxford, and we've just reconnected in the last two years. He's come to visit the past two summers, but the last time we were up there was about 5 years ago. Not sure when we'll be back in the area, but if and when we do, you and I are getting together, girl! I still can't believe you found me.
~~
Kelly: Had it not been for the picture of the gate, and your mentioning me in the post, I might not have actually made contact. So happy you did. :)
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Dawn: And I am glad you did. It's so good to be found. What a day.
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June: Oh Kelly, dear I ask what happened?
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Lori: Dawn Crowninsheild! How are you! I just saw your name in Kelly's post and it made me smile. :-) Yeah, Kelly!
~~
Kelly: ugh.. the most traumatic moment of my childhood, probably of my life. Growing up in Andover, my parents signed us up at the Phillips Academy ice skating club where we could ice skate every weekend, and bring a friend. This one good friend of mine, Dawn, who moved into my neighborhood from Alabama when we were 3, was never allowed to come. Her mother was kind of protective. Anyway.. this one particular weekend, she was able to come. So we skated all afternoon, and when it was over, we waited up by this gate for my mother to pick us up. A 10 or 12 foot wrought iron gate. In 1979, these things were not secured, and we were swinging back and forth on the gate... switching sides and riding it back and forth, weeee...
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Karen: I remember it, too! That gate is enormous!
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Kelly: When all of a sudden, one of the hinges broke, and the outside bottom corner of the gate hit the pavement. we thought we were going to get in trouble for breaking the gate. I thought maybe we could move it back to the full open position but it wouldn't budge. This was wrought iron and huge. you know how heavy a wrought iron fry pan is, right? multiply that weight by a thousand. suddenly, the second hinge let go with a loud thud. I turned to look at saw it leaning, falling.... I saw my friend running with her arms covering her head... I saw she was never gonna make it.....


Kelly: when all of a sudden.... SLAM!!! It fell on top of her and pinned her to the ground with the most hideous clang that only wrought iron on concrete can make....
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Kelly: and I was like....'Dawn?' "DAWN???" "DDDAAAAWWWN??!?!!!" I just remember screaming and looking down at her between the iron slats on the gate, she was unconscious... or dead.... I freaked out. I was ten years old. there was nobody around.... I ran back to the rink for help, just screamed "the gate, the gate, dawn, the gate, HELP' and ran back up to the gate. when I looked, there were 2 high school girls standing there. One of them somehow in one of those adrenaline fuelled superhuman strength things, lifted that gate off of her and the other girl reached in and pulled her out.
~~
Kelly: I was completely in a panic, and she was not moving, and was bleeding and her body looked a bit mangled. Then the ambulances and police and my mother showed up. It was hideous. she was very badly injured and spent hours in surgery. fractured pelvis, ruptured spleen [It was my bladder], internal bleeding, I think a fractured skull.
~~
Kelly: She was hospitalized and then bed ridden for months after... and it was all just awful. Then a few months later, they moved very suddenly to Mississippi and we had kept in touch a little in the beginning, but then lost each other at least 28 years ago, maybe more. I blamed myself for this accident for years and years and years. Every March 3rd, I think of her, and that gate... and this year was no different. She was on my mind this morning, so i decided to peek online to see what I could find, and I found her, and found a blog she had written like 10 days ago, about that very day, with a picture of that very gate.... and she talked about me, and the horror that we went through....
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Kelly: So I posted on the blog, and she saw it immediately, and we spoke for the first time in probably 30 years.... she is alive and well.  Thank God. I have been flooded with memories of it all day long.... I may have to go see that gate. I have avoided that area ever since the accident... too much to deal with, and guilt is a horrible thing. But finding an old friend is amazing.



Dawn: Kelly, I am in tears reading this story that I know, but don't know, from your perspective for the first time. And, oh my, how traumatic it was for you too. It wasn't our fault, yours or mine. It was an accident. I never dreamed that blog post would pull you out of nowhere back into my life. Oh happy day!
~~
Joelle: This just simultaneously broke my heart and renewed my faith in the universe.
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Kelly: I am in tears writing it! Bitter sweet. I have got to pull it together here.. I gotta go make dinner for the kids! LOLOL. Deep Breaths. Today is a GOOD day.
~~
Dawn: I'm thinking the same thing about dinner. But I'm in the attic instead looking for the tape recorded call from your mother to mine to tell her of the accident. You are going to hear this one day, Kelly. God kept me alive. I might have bled to death before they could have cut me out from under there. And there's a tape, too, of you guys from school. Do you remember taking a tape recorder to school for everyone to record their well wishes? I still have it! No school work must have happened that day for any 5th grade class. Oh my. So overwhelming. I have a picture of us, too, Kelly, somewhere. I am on crutches, you are next to me and we were in my front yard. I have got to find that picture!
~~
Dawn: And those of you who remember me from Andover, please friend me. I'd love to reconnect with you all. Mostly they're good memories. :)
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Danyelle: Dawn we never met but I know this story all to well... I feel a lot of closure and new beginnings for you and Kelly! This is an awesome Facebook story :)
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Dawn: Danyelle, how do you know this story so well? From Kelly?
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Danyelle: Yes.
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Kelly: That day is also My Gate Story. It impacted me and haunted me for years. Danyelle and I met in 7th or 8th grade & remained friends for years....to this day.
(I had tried to share all this to my wall and said that it was my gate story from Kelly's perspective.)
~~
Dawn: Kelly, it IS your story too. I think I never realize how traumatized you were until today. It will link us forever. You have to remember that I have no real memory of the actual events. I don't even remember switching sides. I remember swinging. That's it. You were traumatized for years in ways I wasn't.
~~
Kelly: We each were scarred that day. But time has a way of healing everything, making it less horrific over time. Its all good now :)
~~
Deana: Amazing!! Glad you found each other ♥

: :

At the time or our accident, there was turmoil taking place in my family, boiling over really. As soon as doctors allowed me to stand on my feet again, mom moved us abruptly from Massachusetts to Mississippi. I wasn't fully recovered, but I was well enough to travel, so we did.

While I was in the hospital a nurse washed my hair -- twice in the month I was there. My broken pelvis kept me from bearing my own body's weight, so I laid in a hospital bed, and she leaned over my brokenness, pouring warm water from a pitcher over my matted hair. The basin that caught it was propped roughly under my neck and emptied repeatedly. I would need dry clothes, and my bed clean sheets when it was over. It was tedious and much work, but she must have known clean hair can heal a little girl.


My right eye is scarred now, the one that squints after the skull fracture at my eye socket. Emergency exploratory surgery left my torso unsightly, and I would never again wear a bikini, not ever. Kelly had been mercifully unharmed, safe on the opposite side of the gate when it fell. It was my solace. In high school I envisioned her beautiful and bikini-clad, a balm to my bad quasi-memories.

But Kelly had no stitches to hold her together, no wise and tender nurse. It was 1979, before counseling helped kids when they'd been broken. She didn't even get to see me recovered and gain a measure of comfort in that because I was suddenly ripped from her life like a scab from our wounds that had not fully healed. That ordeal, ours, hers and mine, the same yet different, stung bright again just six weeks later when I vanished.


And this is how it was for 33 years, until I had the crazy thought that the odds might be in my favor.

High School Seniors: Mississippi and Massachusetts

Wounded, Healed, and Scarred
Reunited
Friends Forever This Time

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Related Post:  Knowing the Odds: An Open Letter to My Rescuers

9 comments:

  1. Dawn, what an incredible story. I was glued to the screen. I'm so glad you and Kelly found each other after all these years, but so sorry to hear of the tragic house fire. Thank God they escaped with their lives, but it must be like a death, in some way, to lose everything you own in a few minutes. I'm so sorry for this. I have no doubt that you will be a great comfort to her during this time.

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    1. Dayle, thank you so much for your prayer. I am beside myself, still reeling from finding one another and now this. I am over 20 hours away and all I can do is muster prayer support. Thank you. According to Facebook, she has lots of love and help coming her way. I wish I could do more. But prayer is good, very good.

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    2. I'd do anything to hug you right now!!!
      Kelly

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  2. Absolutely stunning. Beautiful. Holy. Providential. I can't come up with enough adjectives to describe all I'm feeling.

    And now, praying of course for your friend.

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    Replies
    1. Oh Jennifer, thank you so much. It's so much to handle at once. Prayer is all I have to offer her right now, so thank you. Just thank you.

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  3. Dawn, how absolutely amazing...start to now! I would say it's a God thing but then...isn't everything?

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  4. Wow INCREDIBLE story so it goes to prove that internet can be positive and good and even 'healing'.
    Wow you really could write a book and have her co write it with you, your side and her side, back and forth and in the end a reunion of 'both sides' ... as adults.
    God has blessed you ...

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  5. Breathless! This is amazing, but then God is amazing, and the more I know Him and other people who do, the more astounding yet verifiable stories I hear/read. And have a few to tell myself. Definitely praying for Kelly, and her family, and her friends. This is another of those "bad" things that may turn out to be a beautiful good thing. Never underestimate the power of your prayer for good. It's big.

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  6. Dawn, I'm so glad you and Kelly found each other and finally have closure for this awful experience. The Internet and Facebook have been amazing tools to rediscover people who meant so much to us in our childhood. Thanks for sharing this. It really touched me.

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