Sunday, November 19, 2017

One Thousand Paper Cranes

It's been exactly one month since the accident. We finally got our truck back from the shop on Friday. It's shocking how much damage one motorcycle can do to a 2500 4x4 Dodge Ram. Now the truck looks all shiny and new. Doesn't matter. I still see it the way it was before, with the Harley mangled and twisted into it; with the crushed-in metal and black marks where Kaleena's helmet hit the hood. It's hard for me to look at our truck. It's hard for me to sit in the passenger side, where I see Kaleena's body flying into the air again and again. If we had been driving our minivan that day, the Harley would have crashed through our windshield. I'd be dead. Trinity, right behind me, would have been severely injured. But luckily we were in a truck that was tall enough to take that enormous impact without hurting me or my family. "Luckily." Ha. These are things I should feel thankful about. Why can't I feel thankful about them? 

But it is getting better. I know I sound bitter. Maybe I'll always have these little seeds of resentment that pop up their ugly heads when I'm writing about it, but I really am getting better. I've felt the difference this week. And I've realized three things:

  1. I can be normal again. Life does go on. I can be happy.
  2. The fact that I get to keep living (when Kaleena doesn't) might always fuel embers of guilt inside of me. But maybe I need that. Guilt is the least I can do for her.
  3. Even though life goes on, even though I'm starting to find happy/silly-me again, I'm different inside. Kaleena's death did something to me, something I can't un-do. I've accepted this.
In memory of Kaleena, I've decided to make hundreds of paper cranes. 498 to be exact. Here are the details I posted on Facebook:

I didn't give context for this post. It was too personal. Regardless, several people expressed they wanted to help us reach our goal (I say "us" because once Trin found out I wanted to do this, she was vehement that she needed to do it too). So we came up with our plan. Trin and I, and others who've decided to help us, will simply make paper cranes in honor of people in the country whose lives were cut short by tragedy, being sure to write each person's name on the inside of the crane. On October 19, 2018, the one year anniversary of Kaleena's death, my family will set up a small memorial at the crash site with all of our cranes. At this time, the 1000th crane will be created and dedicated to the memory of Kaleena Porter.

I'm keeping this project on the quiet-side. I don't want this to be about me, I want it to be about her.

This will be the last post I write about Kaleena for a long while. I'm ready to start writing about normal things again. I started to write "normal, shallow things", but my heart just isn't into self-deprecating my life right now. Even if things seem stupid and unimportant, it's life. I'm lucky to have it.

Friday, November 10, 2017

When Everything Changes

For the record, everything below the dandelions was written a couple of weeks ago. I was in a bad place. I'm still struggling, but it's tempered compared to how I was feeling then. On the plus side, my family has been so amazing. The night this happened, I insisted that I didn't want to be around anyone. Yet my parents drove all the way up the mountain and showed up on my doorstep with my sister. They wrapped their arms around me and let me break down and cry. Shannon made everyone hot tea and they stayed until midnight. By the end of it all, they even managed to make me laugh. It's incredible how brightly light can shine in those dark moments. I love my family so much.

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Thursday evening, at about 4:45, I held a young woman's hand while she bled out onto the roadside. A woman who had crossed over onto oncoming traffic and was struck by our truck.

Here is the article in our local newspaper: Motorcyclist Killed in Head-on Hwy 173 Crash. An objective piece that gives the facts. What it doesn't say is how hard me and two kindhearted drivers tried to save her. It doesn't tell you how we pounded her chest with compressions, how we prayed over her, how we begged her to live. It doesn't tell you how her pulse was strong in the beginning, and her eyes flickered every time I yelled at her "Kaleena, fight! You can do this. FIGHT." Or how when we finally pulled off her helmet under the directions of the 911 operator, her brains spilled out onto the cold ground. It doesn't say how she never really had a chance, even though at the time, we thought she did. It doesn't tell you how we foolishly clung onto so much hope.

The article, in its mere 171 words, doesn't tell you that my daughter sat on a rock nearby as this was happening, huddled around her little brother, keeping his head under a blanket so he wouldn't see.  It doesn't tell you about the good samaritan who directed traffic for two hours straight and kept bringing us bottles of water. It doesn't tell you about the dozen other motorcyclists who were riding alongside Kaleena--beautiful woman with even more beautiful souls, who clung to her as she took her dying breaths and clung to each other when she died, who set aside their own remorse to hug me and Clint and the kids over and over again, taking my face into their hands and saying "It's not your fault. It's not your fault." Even though there were a dozen selfish decisions I made that led to us being in that exact place at that exact time. It doesn't tell you that my family had to sit in the desert with Kaleena's broken body for over four hours. It doesn't tell you that my 17 year old daughter is now deathly afraid to drive. Or that I can't see a motorcyclist on the road now without losing my breath.

Kaleena was a young woman who simply made a mistake. One small miscalculation cost her her life. Did you know that, for every casualty that happens on the roads, there's someone on the other end of it? There's the person whose life was cut short, and there's the person who took it. It seems so obvious, but I never knew that. I never fucking knew.

The article doesn't tell you, as it gives its list of facts, that in one moment, everything changes. Everything. Changes.

"Kindness" - The last thing posted on Kaleena's blog.