Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On The Edge Of Eternity

Last Thursday morning, while my husband was out on a bike ride, he stopped on 36th st at the Shea intersection, and waited for a light to turn green. A truck sat in the intersection on Shea, waiting to turn left onto 36th street. The lights started to turn. A car ran the red light and the truck turning left honks at him and then turns left. Another car runs the red light, t-bones the truck and sends the truck skidding sideways, on 2 wheels, toward my husband.
Kirk tried to get out of the way, but the high-speed impact caught up to him. Just as the truck reached Kirk and his bike, the truck flipped on its side and landed right on Kirks legs and skidded before it came to a stop. Somehow when everything came to a standstill, Kirk pulled himself free of the wreckage and sat on the curb. A number of people had stopped. Someone brought Kirk a blanket and told him to keep still. Blood was seeping from a deep gash around his ankle and he had road rash on his leg. Fine grains of shattered glass covered his legs and small pieces of carbon fiber were in a wound where the bike had snapped on his leg.
The driver of the truck that landed on its side was trapped inside his vehicle for about 10 minutes before rescue crews gave him a blanket for protection and smashed his window out. News crews must have been in the area, as channels 5 and 15 were on the scene almost immediately.

The accident happened around 7am and I received a phone call around 7:20. It was Kirk. “Tina, don’t say anything to the kids, but I need you to take them to school and then come pick me up. I’m at the corner of 36th st and Shea. I’m ok, but you will need to take me to the hospital.”
Madison was sitting at the island counter, watching me pack lunches. I knew I couldn’t ask any questions without arousing suspicion. I said “ok” and hung up. As I worked on the sandwiches I started to wonder what had happened. I had a funny feeling in my stomach and my heart started to race. When I finished the lunches I had the kids get their shoes on, and we took off for school. I get another phone call. It was Kirk again, “Are you almost here?” I didn’t know what to think, “No honey, I just pulled out of the driveway. I will get there as fast as I can.” On the way to school, I received 3 more phone calls from Kirk, checking where I was. Every time the phone rang my heart raced a little faster. Was Kirk bleeding to death and there was no one to take him to the hospital? I started to drive a little faster. Mason sensed something was up, “Is something wrong with dad, mom?” I didn’t want to alarm the kids., “No, dad just has a flat tire and I have to pick him up.” Mason breathed a sigh of relief, “Good, I thought maybe he was in an accident or something.” I felt a little bad not letting on, but I couldn’t drop them off at school with uncertain bad news. I didn’t even know what was going on yet.
When I left the kids at school I got to 36th ST. and Shea as quickly as morning traffic and lights would allow. When I got close, Kirk called and asked if I had my camera, and he said that I would not be able to get through the intersection. I would have to go into the parking lot of the church on the corner. When I got to the intersection I could see the police cars, and a smashed up car and a truck on its side. Kirk was standing on the corner with a bandaged leg. I whipped into the parking lot, grabbed the camera, and went to meet Kirk. When I got the scene of the accident, I could see the top of Kirk’s bike sticking out from under the side of the truck. I got choked up and hugged Kirk. People were asking if I was his wife, and all I could do was nod and shake their hands. I couldn’t talk for a little bit.

The news crews were filming the scene. When they asked Kirk for an interview he said no. He was still too shook up. After collecting his shoes and helmet and saying good-bye to the other drivers, he told the news guys he was ready.

We finally left for the emergency room. When we got there, the ER was empty. Kirk filled out his paper work and handed it to the lady behind the desk. They didn’t even look at his paper work and continued a conversation they were having. Kirk stood up and that is when they noticed the bandage on his leg. He told them what had happened and they kind of started jumping around and got him in an ER room right away. We were there for a long time as they cleaned the wounds and put 8 stitches in the ankle area.
I couldn’t sit still, so I stepped out and made all the phone calls to Kirk’s work and to the relatives. Just as I finished up a phone call, a police car pulled up the ER. He got out and came over to me, “I have your husbands bike in the back of the car. I went to your house but no one was there, so I wondered if you would be here.” He got the bike out and loaded it in the Element for me. I could see where the bike had literally been crushed. The frame was broken in several places, and the tires and parts were messed up bad. The policeman was shaking his head. He couldn’t believe that Kirk had survived that accident. He asked how Kirk was doing. I said, “You want to come in and see him?” I took him right into the ER and he talked with Kirk while they were working on him. The policeman said that when they pulled the truck up off the bike, there was a huge dent in the drivers’ door where Kirk and his bike had been. He recommended that Kirk get an ID bracelet just in case he ever got knocked out, and then told him he should buy a lottery ticket because it was his lucky day.
We got home around 11:30am. I fixed something to eat. We had both missed breakfast. At noon we caught the news and saw his interview with channel 5 News. As soon as the story was over, Kirk’s phone rang. It was his sister. She had just happened to be watching the news on her lunch break and saw the interview. She couldn’t believe what had happened either. At dinner that evening, Kirk sat down and said, “Well let’s pray for our meal and we have a lot to thank God for.” Madison said, “Yeah, we should pray all night.”
The next couple of days were a blur of phone calls, e-mails, and Facebook exclamations. Word got around fast. People from as far away as Seattle and Pennsylvania, that we hadn’t heard from in years, were sending their best wishes and prayers. People who had experienced close calls were talking with me about what had happened. It was comforting.
At church on Sunday, they played the news clip and Kirk said a few words. He mentioned that he felt like hugging his family more, and Mason, from his seat, raised his hands up toward Kirk in a symbolic hug.
We felt exhausted and emotionally raw. We had come so close to losing Kirk. The more we talked about the accident, the more we saw how much of a miracle it was. If that truck had flipped one more turn, it would have crushed Kirk. The rack on the top of the truck was holding 300 lbs. of ladders and piping. How did that miss Kirk’s head? The truck could have crushed his legs. He could have lost his life. When Kirk was reflecting in church, he said, “We really live on the edge of eternity.” The accident happened so quickly that he didn’t have time to get out of the way. He had no control over what happened that morning. That’s how life is. You watch your husband leave for work, or send the kids off to school and assume that they are coming back. We all hug a little more since the accident. We realize how fragile life is, and that we really do live on the edge of eternity.

After note: Both the drivers and Kirk are Christ followers who attend local community churches. The testimony in the TV interviews was loud and clear. God didn’t just show up at that accident, He was there the whole time.