Sometimes I wonder if I say “I love you” too much.
To my Mum, every time I leave her sight. To my friends, every time we part ways. To the children I call nieces and nephews, even though they really aren’t. To my brothers and sisters. To the boy I loved too much, and the girl I couldn’t love enough.
I say it all the time and sometimes it comes at a cost, but I would rather have said it too often, than to never be able to say it again.
I nearly died in late November 2006.
The ambulance officers, the nurses at the hospital, and the surgeons told my mother and my two best friends that I probably wasn’t going to make it.
We’d just gone for a drive in my newly bought first car, a 1990 Nissan Maxima.
“Never seen the Coromandel,” we said.
We’d picked up towels for a midnight swim and Michael Jackson crooned to us, standing with the man in his mirror.
“We’re going the wrong way, you guys.”
We weren’t even halfway there. So I pulled over on the No 1 Road halfway between Morrinsville and Te Aroha. I checked the long straight road, and there was nothing. No lights, no sounds, just darkness.
I pulled into a U-turn that I couldn’t complete without getting too close to the ditch on the other side of the road, so I reversed a little …
My version of the story stops there. I woke up five days later in the intensive care unit of Waikato Hospital, under the fine care of the Waikato trauma service.
Another car had been on the dark road that night, another human being I hadn’t accounted for. As I had reversed to clear the ditch, someone else’s Suzuki Swift ploughed straight into the driver’s door of my car.
With the exception of knowing I was taken care of at the scene by the amazing Morrinsville Volunteer Fire Service, and the St John Ambulance crew, I can’t tell you what happened after that. Only that I know how scary it is to wake up nearly a week later unable to move, with tubes and wires connected to every part of you.
Thankfully, neither my friends nor the lady whose car had hit me, were physically hurt. I had no external injuries, though internally I was a mess.
I had a shattered pelvis, several broken ribs, and I broke one of the bones at the bottom of my skull. I had a perforated rectum, bladder, right ovary, right kidney, and liver. I also paralysed my right leg from the knee down.
It would be easy to express an expletive now, and wonder how a person can come through something like that. But I did come through it.
There was a five-month stay in hospital, and a battle with the lonely depression that came with it; but it has been over seven years since what I call “the day I lived”.
Seven years, and I would consider myself the happiest I have ever been. I still have to use crutches to get around, but it’s a small price to pay for being alive.
And little did I know there was a far worse day coming for my family and I.
As if by some cruel twist of fate we lost my troubled younger brother to suicide the day before I was due to be released from the hospital.
So I got out a night early. Suddenly my problems were no longer problems. I would take the pain and suffering of those five months every day for the rest of my life if it meant having my brother with us still.
So I say “I love you”, all the time.
I say it when people don’t want to hear it. I say it at inappropriate times. I say it even when I feel uncomfortable saying it because I will never allow the chance to pass me by.
I love you. And I want to always be sure that you know, before it ever gets to the point of being too late.
As seen on Stuff.co.nz by me – 31/03/2014