That First Night…

I remember the day my daddy – PapaC – got hit by a car. He wasn’t my dad at the time. PapaC was my uncle back then. My brother Lawrence and I were living together then with our PapaG, my daddy’s brother. Back then my brother and I got along. We were big (a full 30 lbs of muscle bigger than I am now) and we were really intimidating. Along with our PapaG, there was no one on the block who would mess with us. And we lived on the type of block where people were messed with.

The day he was hit was a bitter cold day. It was 7:28 AM on 22 December 2008; and it was zero degrees. He wore a big black parka with a hood covering his head and his line of sight (one of the reasons why he never saw the car coming), blue jeans and (man-)Ugg boots (to the envy of the firefighters who eventually put him on a stretcher, beating the paramedics to the scene of the accident, all arriving 45 minutes after the accident, still laying on the middle of the street, the corner of the North/Milwaukee/Damen intersection, as cars were whizzing by).

PapaC was in a lot of pain, spending the day at the hospital before they gave him a brace for his entire left leg and crutches so he could walk. PapaG picked him up from the hospital, drove him home, and helped him up the hundred stairs to the door of his apartment next to The Silver Room on Milwaukee Ave in Wicker Park, just southeast from the big intersection where he was hit. He was alone that first night. And though I wasn’t there with him on that day and night itself, I could feel his pain. We know things and we can feel things that people can’t. And when my PapaG told me and Lawrence that my uncle was in pain, we were on high alert that entire night.

We could hear him scream in agony, the slightest movement laying on the bed trying to fall asleep waking him up in pain. The pain was so much and the screams so loud, that in the middle of the night, my daddy’s neighbor Leslie from upstairs came running down to knock on the door to find out what was wrong; she was really nice. He mustered the strength to shout from his bed that he was fine, that he had fallen earlier in the day. My daddy to this day is a really bad liar, which is why he doesn’t lie. But he told us later that he didn’t want anyone to see him this way. He didn’t want to be taken care of. He wanted to be left alone to his thoughts. He was admittedly angry and upset and that night extremely defeated.

He told us a long time later getting through that first night was by far the hardest. Every day afterwards was almost easy, despite the pain. Every day afterwards was and still continues to be a gift.

I think that’s why PapaC enjoys his life with me so much. He looks at everything like a present. And there’s nothing like getting a present in the present.

I’m the best present he’s ever had. He tells me so every single day.

the place where I was hit by a car heading northbound on Damen Ave just south of the Damen/Milwaukee/North Ave intersection
the place where I was hit by a car heading northbound on Damen Ave just south of the Damen/Milwaukee/North Ave intersection

Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.

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