Friday, March 2, 2012

Knowing the Odds: An Open Letter to My Rescuers

I look at the picture of my grown self holding the gate with a rung, a space, a rung, a space. What are the odds that, when it fell and pinned me to the earth, my head would be trapped in a space, not crushed under wrought-iron rung? What are the odds? It's not the only thing I don't know.

This is the day every year I think of you girls. I don't know your names, but you were in high school and walking down the sidewalk, probably talking and laughing about boys or your latest hairstyle on a Saturday afternoon. I was ten and trapped.

How I gained your attention I do not know. Perhaps you heard Kelly or me scream, but I'm not sure either of us did. Maybe you heard the groan of the hinge as it let go, or the outside corner of the gate thud eerily to the concrete with the ping sound only metal makes. Maybe you didn't hear anything, but saw it happen with gaping eyes that flung your bodies into reaction before rational thought led you to a safer way of help.

I may never know, but I know this: I'm grateful.

Two nameless, faceless girls ran to my rescue thirty-three years ago today. Kelly went in search of an adult. I'm guessing she didn't recognize you for the unsuspecting heroes you were. One of you lifted and suspended hundreds of pounds from your teenage girl's bent bicepts. The other of you crawled under—crawled under!—reached me, and dragged me, and yourself, out from the impossible, crushing weight. And what are the odds of that?

The next day, my father and teenage brother tried to lift it like the high school Girl-Hercules did the day before, but their strength proved futile against wrought-iron. They couldn't even scoot it. Not even an inch. Not even with their love for their daughter and little sister, recovering in ICU, brain intact, but body mangled on the inside.

I remember none of it, not the falling gate, not the girls who delivered me to the medics, nor the ambulance that sped me to the operating room. Medical shock can have that affect on a person who suffers trauma if it's . . . well, traumatic enough. So I have facts that fall short of memory, as if I had read a biography. But I lived this miracle.

There are many things about that day I don't know, and I'm grateful for some of the not knowing. But you girls . . . I wonder, still, what made you rush courageously into danger for me, and I want to know. Since I've never saved anyone, I don't know that either.  I know not near enough of this, except how eternally grateful the receipient is.

So, girls? If you're out there? 

What are the odds that you're out there? And suddenly, I think the odds just might be in my favor. Why not?

And if they are, I'd like to know you,

and thank you.

With Jennifer today.
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