I looked up at the clock and realized it was already ten after five. I wondered, “Where is Chris?” He was to take over serving at Joe’s at five and he’s almost never late.” Just then, Betina tore open the front door of the coffee shop shouting, “Chris has been hit by a truck! Chris has been hit by a truck!” Everyone started shouting back at her, “Which Chris?” (We have six men named Chris who hang out at Joe’s right now!) She cried, “Motorcycle Chris! He’s down the street!”
I grabbed my car keys, as everyone rushed out the door and started running toward the intersection about a quarter of a mile away. I called to my daughter, Jewel, who was helping serve at Joe’s that afternoon and we jumped in the car. Already, an ambulance siren wailed, and I could see a truck and police car sitting in the middle of the intersection. Rather than pull out into the street where the traffic was already beginning to back up, I raced through the parking lots of “Valley of the Dolls” and “Fancy’s,” and then stopped at “Baby Dolls,” closest to the accident.
I turned to little Jewel (who is nine) and told her she had to stay in the car. Her eyes were wide and full of tears. She loves Chris, and here we were sitting in the parking lot of the nastiest strip club on our street. I told her I had to go to Chris and that she needed to keep the car door locked. She would be safe. I would be right back. Trembling and nodding, she said, “Okay, Mama.” We could see Chris’ body lying in the street.
I joined the crowd of people that were gathering on the corner, and we paced. We prayed, we cried, and we tried to breathe. The policeman would not allow any of us to enter the intersection but kept directing traffic. Paramedics surrounded Chris, and we couldn’t see! His legs weren’t moving.
I shouted to the policeman, “Tell me how he is! Is he even conscious?” He completely ignored me and just kept pointing directions at the people in the cars. I wondered if maybe he was protecting us from seeing how bad it really was, and I prayed the simplest of prayers, “Oh God, oh God, oh God, help.”
A man who had been standing on the corner witnessed the whole scene. He told me the truck had turned left, right in front of Chris. He had no time to even put on the brakes. He flew over the top of it and landed in the street.
After some time, the paramedics put braces on Chris and strapped him to a board. The policeman still would not allow any of us to go to him. Again and again I shouted, “I have to know where they’re taking him!” Finally he sent a paramedic who asked if I knew any of Chris’ medical information. Was he on any medications? Any history of medical conditions? I told him what I knew and asked how he was. The paramedic said, “We’ll know more when we get him to the hospital, but for now he’s conscious. He’s lucky.”
Lucky?! He got hit by a truck on his motorcycle! He flew over the truck and landed in the street! The paramedic told me where they were taking him. The siren blared and they zoomed away.
The crowd from Joe’s began talking all at once. I told them I would follow the ambulance and encouraged them to get out of the heat, to head back to Joe’s. Some were crying. Some were cussing. I think all of us were shaking from adrenaline.
When I reached the car, Jewel sat there bravely awaiting my return. She told me that people from the club had come out and stood right there next to her car door, trying to see the accident. Even some of the girls without clothes had stood in the doorway watching the whole scene. I remember thinking, “Wow. There was a piece of her education.”
Sitting in the ER waiting room, I heard my name being called. I stood and a very kind-faced man came and sat next to me and Jewel. He explained that he was the ER chaplain and began to fill me in on Chris’ condition. A broken wrist and a shattered pelvis. These were the immediate and worst injuries. Chris was conscious and he was asking for me. Was I able/willing to go back to see him?
I left Jewel with another friend who had arrived and followed Rev. Kind Chaplain down the foreboding, bare, white-walled tunnel, past groaning people on beds in little rooms to the end of the hallway. There lay Chris with two doctors and a nurse moving back and forth and around him.
The details of the next couple of hours are a blur of blood, cries, blood, hand squeezes, blood, tears, blood, x-rays, blood, stitches, and more blood, as they discovered his pelvis had been torn completely apart and violently twisted. The broken bone and dislocation of his wrist was cutting off circulation to his hand and had to be immediately reset. (Waves of nausea here.) And a laceration that tore open and broke his knee cap had pierced the joint of his knee and must be irrigated and closed in surgery. (More waves of nausea here.) Add to this the multiple cuts and one puncture wound that must be stitched to stop the bleeding. Sorry to those of you with a weak stomach. It was overwhelming.
The whole time Chris lay there he never stopped talking. Talking. Talking. Talking about how to cover his responsibilities at Joe’s. (He helps us manage the business.) Talking about the people at Joe’s and their needs and concerns that would have to cared for. (He is an Assistant Pastor with us at Joe’s and loves the people dearly.) But the topic he kept returning to again and again was the driver of the truck that pulled out in front of him. He asked me if the man was okay. I told him again that he was. He cried about how much anxiety this man must be experiencing, knowing he caused this accident. He asked me to please find the man. Let him know Chris is going to be okay. “Tell him not to worry.” This was the biggest concern on his mind, as he lay there in agonizing pain under the care/torture of those wonderful doctors.
And this is the testimony of what Jesus has done. Yes, Chris is going to be okay. Three surgeries and many months of rehab later, he will be able to walk. And of course, God has been and is in and throughout the whole experience of his recovery, providing comfort, energy, perseverance and hope. But the greatest testimony of all, in my opinion, is the evidence of who Chris was the day of the accident compared to who he was three years ago before he met Jesus.
Chris was a self-proclaimed nihilist, only cared about himself and what he wanted. By the age of 50, he had destroyed his marriage, his family, his career and his own reputation. Upon meeting Jesus and experiencing His forgiveness, Chris decided that he wanted to live the next 50 serving Him and His people. And this is what Chris has been doing——loving and feeding and counseling and helping the people who hang out at Joe’s. And now, when more than anytime in his life it would be certainly acceptable for him to be thinking of himself, his focus was on loving the man who had hurt him. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”