In 2001, March 12, at 3:14pm, at a certain freeway exit, is a post that is shorter than most. That is the marker for me when the barricade was put back, it was a reminder every time we drove by.
I never saw it coming, but a 16 year old having fun during spring break, was driving 100 or so MPH. Witnesses tried their best to keep up, but they couldn’t, so the next took up the chase. They dreaded when and how it would end. I was first hit from behind, which is quite shocking since you are on a freeway moving about 60mph! I almost lost control, but gained it back. He oversteered, and came back, and BAM, another huge blow to the back passenger door. Time began to crawl, I wondered what I should do? I was out of control, but then, I got back in control again…. and then, there was his face at my passenger door as he hit it again – HARD – out of control. Sliding up, he popped my tire, and that was then end of my being in any control. To my benefit, I never looked up. I was going sideways across the heaviest traveled freeway in Houston.
Calmly I thought… “so this is how I will die”. I was fortunate, whoever would hit me would hit me at my door going a high speed, and I would never know it. No suffering. Just lights out. But then it changed and my constant steering to one side turned my car around and no I was going BACK across the freeway. But this time I knew I had the passenger door, seat AND them me. The odds weren’t as good, I could live, and yet not be alive. I kept imagining an 18 wheeler…. as I knew it would end any kind of suffereing. Eternity from all these thoughts. No, my life didn’t flash before my eyes. Only a calmness of total acceptance came over me. SHOCK…I was in the grassy area of the freeway, between the freeway and the frontage road. I couldn’t believe I’d lived! How did THAT happen? I was stunned, and a burning sensation began from my skull down all sides of my neck. My head had sharply went forward, then to the left, then upper left, the brain banging against the protective skull. EVERY area was jostled. Like the shaken baby syndrome. I knew I was hurt….but just a few chiro treatments, and all would be well. Silence on the Chiro’s part, because he knew somehow he would have to help me understand this was. a long haul. Queen of denial! He made the neuro’s appointment, and MRI. Laying flat in the MRI for 1.45 hours was excruciating painful. So I prayed a long prayer for my dear friend, Linda Ronhaar, who had just lost her husband. She was well prayed for that day! 🙂 It took days to recover from just the MRI. I forgot things, who was I? Was I Cathy a daughter, or Cathy a wife? My mother and daddy had died during these years of recuperating, which sent me backwards a lot. We left our home where we raised our kids, a 4/2 on land, in Alvin, TX. We opened our doors for furniture to be taken away by those who could use it. Now, we were in a 2/2 condo, just minutes from Charles work. And as I woke from deep sleep in the afternoon, I had to get oriented. So out came my notes by my bedside. “I’M CATHY CARLILE TURNER. MOTHER AND DADDY HAVE DIED, I AM CHARLES WIFE, HE IS AT WORK. Quickly, I could get oriented.
Charles fixed early coffee, and I would get up to pour the coffee. Finally, I had to tell him to please turn the cup right side up, as I had no clue what to do with the cup to make it right. I saved time by not spilling up so much coffee. The kitchen I had cooked in for 18 years was foreign. And it was exhausting to cover up that fact. I was pretty clueless, but a friend Jeannie would cover for me and make it appear I was okay. My family helped also. Was that bad? Yes. Because everyone thought I was fine, they had no idea of the struggles I fought just to get ready to go somewhere or to fix a simple instructions. I wore my mask, and it fit well. But inside that mask, was someone who was afraid, but couldn’t say those words. There was much to do, and little time for fear. Little by little, our wonderful privileges had to be let go. Of many ministers coming through – stopping by that I had known or grew up with. Slowly, the large Sunday dinners were handled by two young men, Vic and Paul Hoover, who were cheerful and kept our families spirits up, along with our friend. The erosion of who I was and my duties in the family became none, and it was hard for the family to cope and understand.
I played a huge role, as most women do, as a wife, mother, and friend. Each role became blurred, and the ability to understand them became less. Later, we learned that severe concussions are not as evident until 48=72 hours later, and that they gradually worsened. TIA’s, and small seizures began, but NOT hidden from myself. Each time, I lost a skill, and sometimes I slowly regained it back. The pain, the pain was awful….starry pain, mind numbing pain, searing pain from all the muscles and ligament in the neck and down my back were torn, stretched, and bruised. Areas of my brain were bruised, and some hope was held out that I may be able to continue my job in management at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas. They did all they could – giving me time, and an assistant. But I would have lunch with someone, an employee, and then not know it a few minutes later. The CEO had put me on boards that were now way over my head. Slowly, I backed out of many things. When I couldn’t understand what others were saying, and when I would loose my thoughts, or when sentences came out backwards or in the wrong order, I had to accept my hobby, my job, my enjoyment of working with people, was over. The announcement came as a colleague read my resignation. I sat while there was complete silence in the room of about 25 people – those who I had responsibility over, and heard a great silent sound of weeping and sobbing. I stayed for a few days, but the atmosphere was too down, and it was best for me to slip out into the day before it was my last day. To spare us all of grief.