Don't Forget To Remember Me....
Sweetie can you hear me,” said a voice from outside.
I blinked as I tried to sit up. I was restricted. I couldn’t move. I was pinned. I kept blinking to try and focus, but something was clouding my vision.
I reached up to wipe my eyes as they finally focused. I pulled my hand away to find it covered in blood.
I started to scream.
“My name is Ray. It is going to be ok. Can you tell me your name,” said the voice loudly over my screams.
I stopped screaming and started to cry hysterically.
“My Momma’ and Dad are going to be so mad at me,” I choked out in between sobs.
“Honey, I don’t think that is going to matter. Are you hurting anywhere,” he asked.
“Everything hurts!” I cried out, “I’m stuck and I can’t move, my legs are pinned.”
“It will be ok Sweetie. Help is on the way,” he said.
I turned my body enough to see through the crushed window of my driver side door to see Jason Laponsie standing at the top of the ditch.
“JASON,” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
He jumped at the sound of his voice.
“GET TO WAL-MART AND TELL MY MOMMA’,” I screamed.
Just like that he took off running, and just like that I started crying again. Everything was hurting. My head was pounding, and I was getting tired.
All I wanted to do was sleep, I was SO tired!
Ray must have known something was going on because he started talking to me more. Started asking more questions.
“Do you know what happened Sweetie,” he asked.
“That van pulling a trailer crossed the centerline and pushed me off the road. I didn’t have anywhere to go. It all happened so fast,” I said, “I hit the dirt when I left the road and my tires dug in. I rolled 4, no 5 times maybe? I’m not real sure I’m sorry.”
“It’s ok. How old are you,” he asked.
“I’m 16. My name is Beckie, well Rebecca actually. Fegan, I’m from Brimley. This shirt I got on is my brother’s he is going to be real mad when he finds out. I ripped it on the sleeve. It caught the thing that reclines the seat when I was rolling and I started to yank on it because it got stuck. It reclined the seat as the ceiling came down at the same time the last time I rolled over. You think they will be able to get me outta’ here,” I asked.
It was real quiet outside the car and suddenly I felt very alone. I wondered then if I had been talking to myself the entire time. I couldn’t see much, and I was pinned from moving anywhere. I tilted my body enough to see Ray turn around and crouch down beside the car. He looked like he had tears in his eyes, but I couldn’t be sure since my own were blurred with dirt, blood, and whatever else was in the wreckage.
I lifted my hand out the small hole in the window just enough that Ray could hold onto it. “Please don’t let go,” I begged, “I really just want my Momma'.’”
“I won’t let go until the ambulance arrives Rebecca. I promise,” he said. In the distance, you could hear the wail of the sirens announcing that they were coming. “It won’t be long now sweetie, just hang in there. You just gotta’ hang in there.”
It was the last thing I heard before I lost consciousness.
I came to when the EMT’s arrived.
“REBECCA! CAN YOU HEAR ME? I NEED YOU TO LISTEN TO ME. I NEED YOU TO HELP US. CAN YOU HEAR ME REBECCA? I NEED YOU TO ANSWER ME IF YOU CAN HEAR ME?”
“I can hear you,” I choked out in a small voice.
“GOOD, I NEED YOU TO TRY AND BACK AWAY FROM THE DOOR AS MUCH AS YOU CAN OK? WE HAVE TO USE SOME TOOLS TO GET YOU OUT OF YOUR CAR AND I AM GOING TO NEED FOR YOU TO BACK AWAY FROM HERE AS FAR AS YOU CAN AND NOT MOVE. DO YOU UNDERSTAND,” someone screamed from the outside.
“Yes. I understand, but I’m pinned. The steering wheel is on my knees and the ceiling is almost touching my face. I hit my head REALLY hard off the side of the car when I rolled. I think I rolled 4 or 5 times. I am not really sure. I can’t move very much.”
“IT IS OK REBECCA, MOVE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN, BUT STAY VERY, VERY STILL. WE ARE GOING TO BE RUNNING SAWS AND IT IS GOING TO GET REALLY LOUD DON’T MOVE. OK? PROMISE ME YOU WON’T MOVE. I PROMISE YOU WE WON’T HURT YOU. DO YOU TRUST ME TO GET YOU OUT OF THERE?”
“Yes. Can you please just get me out of here? I’m cold, and I am very tired. I would like to sleep,” I said.
“I CAN’T LET YOU DO THAT REBECCA. I NEED YOU TO STAY AWAKE FOR ME. CAN YOU DO THAT FOR ME REBECCA?”
“I can try,” I choked out.
“WE ARE GOING TO GET STARTED NOW. ARE YOU READY?”
“I think so,” I said in a tiny voice.
The saws started up and started cutting metal just above my head and I screamed out. I remember pulling back into the seat as far as it would let me and looking out the crack in the window to see EMT’s and firefighters all around my car.
The saw cut harder and louder and I cried harder. Then I started to scream and I just couldn’t get myself to stop. Instantly they knew something was wrong, and the motor on the saw went dead.
I was still crying hysterically when one of the EMT’s leaned down into the small space that used to be the window and reached in to grab my hand.
“Rebecca, you’re pinned in there pretty good. I know it is scary, and I know that not being able to see what is happening around you is terrifying. What if we use a different tool to get you out of there? Do you think that we could try that? Would that be alright,” he asked.
I looked at him and said, “My head hurts and I’m really tired. So as long as you can make it so I can just get out of here, I think that would be alright.”
He told me to look away and that he would call my name when it was time to open my eyes again, BUT not to go to sleep.
So I did what he told me, and closed my eyes and waited.
I would find out later on from my Momma’ that THAT tool that they used to get me out of my car that day was the Jaws of Life.
Things happened real fast after they were able to peel away the car like a tin can.
I got put in a neck brace and loaded onto a stretcher before getting hauled away in the ambulance. They cut my shirt off of me, asked me all the same questions Ray had asked me, and even though all I wanted to do was sleep they kept poking and prodding at me to make sure I couldn’t.
We arrived at the hospital to find Momma’ and Dad already on site, I would find out later on that they were there almost 2 hours before I was.
Momma’ has often said it was the longest two hours of her entire life. Not knowing whether I was alive or dead, all they would tell her and Dad was that there were complications and that The Jaws of Life were involved in the extraction process.
At the hospital, I would learn that I was a survivor, one of the lucky ones, blessed if you will.
No broken bones, and minimal injuries. One of which one was a head injury that caused what they called at the time, “Minor Swelling on the brain.”
The doctor assured my parents it would go down and not cause too many complications long term, AND then I got 226 stitches.
Now don’t get me wrong when I tell you the first 200 stitches weren’t too bad. In hindsight they really weren’t, they numbed me for most of them, or I was numb enough I couldn’t feel them. Either way, the first 200 didn’t hurt quite as bad as the last 26.
Now it had been VERY few times in my life that I had seen my Dad get emotional. THAT day was one of the few. They hadn’t told me until RIGHT at that moment that the LAST 26 stitches I was about to get were going to stitch my right ear back on.
A shard of glass had cut it clean off except for one piece and it was left hanging. The only thing that saved it was that my hair was long and was tucked up in it so it didn’t move. Since everything else hurt so bad at the time I must have MISSED that my ear was just chilling out about ready to fall off.
Now at 16 years old, after what was possibly the WORST day of my life, I get this BOMB dropped on me. However, the doctor assured me that he was one of the BEST in the city and that no one would even be able to tell by the time that he was done.
There was a catch though.
He couldn’t numb cartilage. So I was going to feel EVERY single stitch, and there was going to be A LOT if it was going to go back on correctly. He gave me the choice to proceed or to cut the rest of it off right then and there and live the rest of my life without part of my ear.
Momma’ cried out, “Absolutely not! You FIX my Baby RIGHT now!”
I looked from her to the doctor and agreed. Right then my Dad stepped around my Momma’ and reached out for my hand. I took a deep breath as the doctor counted down, looked up at my Dad who gritted his teeth together and said through them, “Squeeze as hard as you have to Becky Dawn” as the doctor stuck the needle through the cartilage in my ear.
I didn’t just cry out in pain, I SCREAMED out in pain. The kind that shakes your entire body all the way right down to your spine and back again. I squeezed onto my Dad until I was sure I would break him. As the doctor continued I could feel my own tiny frame shake under each swoop of the needle, I looked up at my Dad to see his eyes well up with tears.
Behind him Momma’ was crying, her heart was aching, I could feel it from where I was laying. The tears kept coming as the doctor finished and I let out a sigh as he said, “All finished kiddo’, you did awesome.”
He finished tying up and was removing his gloves when he looked up at Dad. “That is one tough kid you got there. I have had grown men cash in long before we are able to finish. She’s got some grit that one. Hopefully, it will take like it should and will heal up nicely. Only time will tell, but I think we caught it in time.”
You see, apparently, we were going out on a limb by even sewing it back on, they weren’t sure if it was already dead or not.
Great! Precisely what EVERY 16-year-old girl wants to hear, “Hey you are still beautiful and all just make sure you keep your one ear covered because it was severed off in the car accident.”
Luckily it didn’t happen that way & as God would have it the doctor sewed it up pretty well and the part that was cut off healed up nicely. Even if you are standing next to me you can barely tell!
After we left the hospital I asked Momma’ and Dad if I could see my car. I will never know to this day what made me want to see it that afternoon but seeing the vehicle that literally saved your life crushed to bits isn’t anything I recommend to anyone.
Dad and the man from the yard were standing talking. I remember overhearing him say, “She is one lucky little lady. We honestly didn’t think ANYONE survived that wreckage.” Witnesses to the accident told the tow truck driver that I had rolled end over end 3 times, and side over side 3 times. 6 rolls in total barely missing an electric pole and wrapping my car in barb wire fencing and fence posts. It was WHY they had such a hard time getting me out of it. I looked back over my shoulder at him and gave him a small smile before continuing over to my car.
There wasn’t much left. Honestly didn’t even look like my car anymore. No windows just crumpled metal and broken plastic everywhere. The door was cut off and sitting next to my car. I immediately started shaking remembering the saws cutting the metal above my head.
Momma’ must have known I was shaken because she came and wrapped her arm around me and with tears in her eyes said, “Lets get on home and get you laid down to rest huh,” She had ended it in a question, but I knew that she was full on directing me to get my hind-end back to the pick-up and head for home.
It was a quiet ride back to the farm. No one said much of anything.
I think after seeing the wreckage Momma’ and Dad were just glad that I was alive.
Wasn’t much that could be done after that anyway, so we got home and settled in. Momma’ pulled out the pull-out couch in the living room and she and Dad took shifts watching me and giving me medicine.
I had lots of visitors in the following days, but it was the days following the accident that things took a turn for the worst.
You see I woke up one morning after the accident and things were a little fuzzy.
Visitors would come. I would recognize their faces. Momma’ would talk with them and I would read the cards and see their names, but I didn’t know them.
It stayed that way for quite a while actually. Even after I went back to school, walking the halls of Brimley High School took some maneuvering.
People sort of flocked to me after the accident and the ones that were in classes with me walked with me to class.
Teachers let me sit where ever I wanted since I was busted all to bits and since I couldn’t remember much of anything anyway it made it a heck of a lot easier on me.
That year couldn’t have ended soon enough.
It was by far the most frustrating for me in my High School career.
I walked the halls with all the kids I had grown up with my entire life and every single one of them were now complete strangers to me.
I couldn’t remember any of them, their names, or their stories. Their places in my life, or why they were important to me.
I finished out that school year with nothing but relief that the summer had come and I didn’t really have to try to figure it out anymore until Fall came back around.
Momma’ would ask me every morning if things were getting clearer. For a while, I would tell her no and I think the heartache on her face is the reason I stopped even giving her an answer. I would just tell her to, “Leave me alone Momma’, I’m fine.”
The reality was that I wasn’t fine.
I honestly didn’t even know who I really was, or what was going on in my life. It took going back through my journal to LEARN who I was, and that wasn’t anything I was prepared for.
Not only did I not know or remember who I was, now I was reliving losing my best friends, my sister moving, my 1st boyfriend & all his awesome mistakes, and every single feeling I had felt from the time I had started my journal to the time I finished reading it.
It took grabbing a yearbook to put faces to names and finally triggering memories by doing so. It wasn’t long after Momma’ must have just realized that I wasn’t talking a lot, or that I stopped taking calls, whatever the case was she sure started talking A LOT more.
She would tell stories…..a ton of them…
A lot of times I would say, “I remember that!” and she would skip on to another year. She eventually narrowed down that I lost 3 to 4 years before my car accident happened worth of memories. Which at the time wasn’t such a bad thing considering the crazy amount of hurt that came along with those memories.
I wish I could describe to you what it feels like to be stuck. To be lost. To feel completely ALONE. To stand in front of someone who is talking to you with such love and admiration and NOT have a clue who they are, but I can’t.
I don’t have the words. I won’t ever have the words.
It is something I don’t EVER wish on anyone, because when it finally does come back, it does so with a vengeance! Reliving & Relearning who you are isn’t anything ANYONE should have to live through!
It has been 20 years, but there are some days it still feels as if it were only yesterday.
The following Summer after my car accident I would become pregnant with Mickayla, but that is an entirely different subject for another time.
Shortly after her arrival since my Momma' wouldn’t do it for me at 16 I got my very first tattoo.
A lot of you ask me how many I have. I honestly don’t remember anymore.
I lost count awhile back, and I really am ok with that.
You see I started telling my story one tattoo at a time on my skin. My story. That way if there ever came a moment, a time, when I was to wake with any uncertainty, I WOULD KNOW.
I didn’t get them for anyone but myself. I got them as reminders. JUST. IN. CASE.
From my butterflies to the flowers representing my grandmothers, to the one on the nape of my neck that I got with my cousin Lacey, to my Sagittarius symbol on my hand, to my Uberlebender on my other.
They tell my story, vividly, and in a way that even if the rest of the world has forgotten, I. WOULD. NOT.
I STILL remember things to this very day when I see people.
Seeing someone I haven’t seen in a really long time triggers memories I forgot I even had.
My memory is sharp as a tack nowadays, but it wasn’t always this way, and I won’t soon forget what it was like to walk through almost a year of my life uncertain if I even belonged.
Scary how one car ride to my work study changed my entire life forever.
It only takes a split second.
It was a drunk driver. He was driving a large van hauling a trailer with snowmobiles and he crossed the centerline coming around the curve on Baker Side Road that morning.
He was late, he was going too fast, and he had been drinking.
He almost took my life from me that morning, but God had other plans.
I still process A LOT these days. More so than I used to. Especially now since I have a child back in the halls of BHS.
So, if you see me with my brow furrowed chances are I’m reflecting on a memory that made its way back to me from the memory bank.
Don’t be alarmed though, I forgive A LOT faster these days than I did back then.
After all, life is too short to stay mad at the things that you just can’t control.
So today my message is clearly this: You are going to get to where you are going when you are meant to get there. You just truly need to believe in yourself and in the process, because trying to do things your own way is only going to end up a mess in the long run.
We may not know the plans that the Good Lord has for us, but if we TRUST that he has GOT this. He will lead us to where we are supposed to be headed.
I can’t promise you much, but I can certainly promise you that.
Now in more recent events, I went on to finish my Firefighter I & II.
To say that the events in my entire life leading up to me taking the class were the influence behind taking it in the first place is an understatement.
I learned quickly that first winter after finishing the class just HOW fast things can change when I got the phone call from my Baby Girl that she had been in an accident.
I left my own house faster than I could even put on clothes. I was still dressing as I was driving down the road, and cursing myself for not being better prepared.
As if by some premonition as a mother I was just supposed to sit around and wait at the ready just in case SOMETHING might happen.
It was windier than I had seen it in a long time, and the roads were icy. I was going to get to her, it was only a couple of miles, but at that moment it felt like hundreds. I felt like I was moving at a snail’s pace, and I just couldn’t get to her fast enough.
All I could do at that point was PRAY!
All of the sudden the tones went off on my pager & the alert went off on my phone.
Someone had called it in. Things just went from bad to worse, and as I rounded the corner into Brimley I had to make a CHOICE.
Be a MOM OR be a FIREFIGHTER.
All I could do was pray some more as I topped the hill by the train, and as I looked and saw the doors to the fire hall open and guys running to bunker up, I knew they were about to roll out. I put the hammer down and headed towards my Biggest Little.
I said another silent prayer as my truck skidded to the left going through Brimley on the icy roads as I pulled it back.
“Judas, this weather sucks,” I said aloud as if someone could hear me.
I made a quick call to my Momma’ to make sure she knew that our Baby Girl was in trouble.
They were out of town at the time and I certainly didn’t want them to hear it from someone else. She, in turn, called my brother Jason who started his long trip from 20 Mile towards Brimley.
It didn’t take much when I rounded the corner onto 28. Cars were stopped and ½ our department was already on site with her. As my truck crawled to a stop arms started flying in the air before I could get out of my truck.
I slammed my door against the wind and yelled, “I’m here as her Momma’, NOT a firefighter, let me see her!”
The guys on the department helped me get to the tow truck against the beating of the wind to find my Baby Girl in the center of the seat hysterical, frozen, and extremely shaken up.
I hugged her and loved on her as she cried and assured her that material things can be replaced and that HER LIFE was more valuable than a car.
We learned from a passerby that the wind literally picked Mickayla’s car up as she was driving to breakfast and pushed her into the slush in the middle of the road which in turn caused her to lose control, slam into a snowbank and flip her car.
I looked up into the truck at my oldest child and remembered my own experiences. I quietly Thanked the Good Lord for keeping her safe and out of harm's way.
Had it been Spring or Summer the variables would have been different and her car would have shot right down into the ravine that was near where her car landed.
She was just headed to breakfast. The most normal thing in the world.
I was just headed to work study the morning of my car accident. Most normal thing in my life.
IN A SINGLE INSTANT EVERYTHING CHANGED.
I can look back on my own circumstances and know that at the time that I was praying for peace from the pain and heartache that I was feeling; it came in a very different way.
Though I will never know the REAL reasons behind why I lost parts of my memory or my life for a while, the fact still remains that I did.
Whole parts of my entire life GONE just like that one morning when I woke up, and all it took was one solitary second for it all to change.
I could have walked around numb and lost. I chose not to.
It wasn’t like everything was lost, the school year following the car accident before God gave me Mickayla I went out to Rudyard for a year. I got lost in their world and was perfectly fine with all of that until my memory finally did return. Kind of funny how it all works out I guess.
The one person who has been a constant my ENTIRE life is also one of my best friends, my cousin Lacey. She gave me back parts of my life back then that I needed to piece everything together in order to bridge the gap entirely.
So in a way she saved me, helped bring me back, and ultimately helped give me my memory and my LIFE back.
I won’t ever forget the moment that my memory finally did come back to me:
I was standing on a dock in the Sault right before a thunderstorm came in. A crack of lightning struck somewhere on the other side of the International Bridge to my left, and seconds later thunder boomed to my right down near the Sugar Island Ferry.
It is a moment frozen in time and in my memory that I won’t EVER forget.
Most likely the VERY reason that to this day when a storm rages across our county I’m the first to run and pull up a seat to watch it.
In a way I feel like it was kind of how the storm inside my own body raged on.
Fighting against itself until EVENTUALLY it washed clean and was able to break free so that I could finally return back to the land of the living.
I don’t doubt the Good Lord’s intentions so much anymore.
I mean I used to A LOT growing up, and now as I sit and reflect on different parts of my life, I am AMAZED at the moments that he did show me he was there.
The ones where I was asking for a sign, begging for peace, and literally screaming for answers and had I just SAT down and listened; I would have KNOWN and SEEN that he was there ALL along.
Just as Momma’ always promised he would be.
Now I would like to take the opportunity to apologize to anyone I went to school with. I REALLY wasn’t kidding when I said that my sister and I had been through more stuff from the ages of 9-18 than most people have been through in a lifetime.
A lot of us are closer now than we ever were in High School.
I talk to people a lot more, and oddly enough nothing has changed. I am STILL awkward and strange if more than one person is around and the center of attention is put on me.
I can’t help it; it’s part of my amazing charm! I honestly never thought I would be 36 before I kind of got my life altogether.
On the flip side of that entire coin I also didn’t think I would be laying out my entire life story for everyone on the internet to openly absorb, and yet here we are.
To the ones that hung in there; Thanks!
To the rest of you; I don’t hate on ya’. I still have nothing but love for you!
To all of you I want to ask you this:
What if you woke up one morning and the last 4 years of your entire life was gone? Could you knowingly walk around people quietly trying to find yourself?? All the while stay trapped inside a body you don’t recognize in the hopes that ONE day something will make sense?
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
It is honestly something I wish on NO ONE. EVER.
All my Momma’ would tell me during those times is the one thing she has repeated over and over through the years – “In God’s Time Rebecca, In God’s Time.”
You see NO MATTER what Momma’ believed. ALWAYS.
It is a trait that I am learning to acquire in my older years. Patience.
It has never, ever been my strong suit, but I am learning more and more to be patient and TRUST the process.
So after all this time that is my lesson to each of you today. No matter what you are battling, no matter what is happening, have faith, have patience, and TRUST the process.
If I can go through an entire year of my life completely blind and still survive; SO CAN YOU!
YOU GOT THIS! I PROMISE!
~Ecclesiastes 7:8 – The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride.~