Today I celebrate my sixth birthday.
Today my niece celebrates her third birthday.
12/22/2008 is a special day for me. It’s the day I died.
12/22/2011 is also a special day for me. It’s the day my niece was born.
I’ll never forget that moment the car hit me, while I was crossing the street on my way to the train to take me to the office. My life literally flashed before my eyes in that nanosecond, along with pictures of everyone that I (ever) loved in my mind’s eye. Three years later on that day, I’ll never forget the moment I received the phone call that my niece was born.
I’ll never forget waking up on that big, busy street corner in the middle of the intersection of North, Milwaukee and Damen, in Chicago. I’ll never forget three years later on that day, I bought my ticket for Philadelphia to fly there the following day, then went to the baby store on Damen Ave in Chicago to drop over $500 on presents for my niece. (I didn’t know anything about babies, buying clothes for different stages of her early life including Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash “onesies” along with baby versions of Pink Floyd cd’s.)
It was 12/22/2008 7:28 AM. It was zero degrees. The fire truck came forty-five minutes later. I’m still laid out in the middle of the intersection, cars still whizzing by, three people (including the woman who had hit me, though she was hysterically crying more than anything else) helping me come to my senses. Firemen rolled me onto a stretcher and into the ambulance that came a few minutes later.
I’ll never forget howling in excruciating pain that first night back from the hospital with every minor movement laying in bed a reminder that while it hurt, I was lucky to be alive. I’ll never forget three years later on that day, landing in Philly, taking a cab to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and holding my niece for the first time. She was only a day old.
We both have a lot of life still left to live.
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