Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Friend in Need . . .

We bought our bikes in about 1999. This is from a recent ride with Avon in the distance
One day after the bike accident

About 21 years ago we moved from the tiny hamlet of Grouse Creek in the northwest desert of Utah to Paradise. One of the first people to welcome me into town was Sherry and we've been friends ever since. On Monday a mutual friend called my cell phone to tell me she was being put in an ambulance
She is always the first person I think of when I desperately need help. Maybe I’m a bit needier than most because that desperation has happened quite a bit. Sherry is the kind of friend you call when you’ve locked yourself out of your car in the middle of the car wash in Logan, when your zipper breaks, when your daughter is sick and needs a ride home from school, when your daughter needs her dress altered for the school dance, when you’re making raspberry jam and need to know how, when your son is leaving on a mission and you need food for the farewell, when you’re sick and need a substitute teacher. She has helped me paint walls, sell pottery, supported my writing and pottery, washed windows, vacuumed floors, fed my cats, watered my plants, turned up my kiln and taken care of me when I was sick. We’ve laughed together, cried together, and argued about the minutest detail and our differing opinions. We’ve walked hundreds of miles together, rode even more miles together on bicycles, and gone on road-trips together.

I’m not sure why she hadn’t called me for a bike ride. The day was a gift, one of those last returning warm days before winter. I’m not as fast a bike rider as Sherry is, and I wonder if she decided to just head out without me. She doesn’t remember what happened, but as the days have passed she thinks she reached for her hat with one hand, and braked with the other, locking her front tire. The bike must have gone end over end. Sherry hit her face in the asphalt, then somehow crawled or dragged herself to the opposite side of the road, where a young woman found her face down. It must have been only minutes after the accident, and help arrived quickly.

Years ago, I hit my first mid-life crisis and sunk into a depression. Sherry took me into Logan to buy a supplement for depression because I felt too inward and helpless to ask, even a total stranger, for something known to treat depression. Then she helped me sign up for classes at USU, again because I wasn’t capable. She listened to me even though I wasn’t always fun to listen to. She helped me through. I graduated with a degree in English and the depression was long past by then.

Five years ago, she helped us find the property in Avon where we currently live.  She helped me get the house cleaned and ready and helped us move. I figured if she was keeping a tally of her good deeds for me over the years against mine for her, than her list was far longer. I hope she isn’t keeping track.

It wasn’t a question that I would want to be there for her at the emergency room. I was told she was conscious and that was a relief. On the drive in I imagined the worst and hoped for the best. When I saw her strapped, immobilized to a board so they could check the extent of her injuries, her face swollen and bruised, but talking ever so quietly, I was relieved. Her daughter was with her already. I had been ready to cuss her out for not wearing a helmet, but then again, it wasn’t the best time. My admiration grew for her. Bravery was not a trait I knew she had. Her only complaint was the board she was lying on, hurt the back of her head. 

I was in the ER for well over an hour before they washed the blood off her face. The blood on her face wasn’t the priority—her injuries were. Just before her husband got there they cleaned her up a bit, finished the CT scan, and un-strapped her from board. He’d been working out-of-town, so it took a while. It was sweet to see the caring of a loving husband for his wife. In wanting to comfort him, a man I considered a friend, I gave him a hug and perhaps kept my arm on his back a little bit too long, since Sherry in her halting and labored voice said, “get your hands off my husband.” Ahhh, I blurted in laughter. At that moment I was quite sure she didn’t have a brain injury. Even in all her pain, her personality was fully intact. She is going to be just fine. In time. And she’s vowed to wear a helmet in the future.