If you know me, you will probably already know what happened five years ago. If you know me well, you will know what happened from my point of view. However, never in detail have I spoken to someone about how much it affected me personally. This post is not about feeling sorry for myself, or being self-obsessed and not caring about anyone else’s feelings who was affected by the accident. It is simply to explain how quickly your world can change but that no matter what happens there is always hope and love, even if you cannot see it in that moment in time.
Five years ago today I was sat on my childminders sofa, getting frustrated that my brother still hadn’t come back from the park, looking back I couldn’t feel more guilty about that thought, my childminder rang her sons to ask where they were and why they weren’t back. I don’t know exactly what was said but immediately I saw her emotions change from angry to scared. She shakily told my mum that my little brother had been hit. My mum took the phone and after that all I remember is getting in the car, about to cry and my mum looked at me and told me I needed to be strong. We arrived as the paramedics got there. No one knew what state my brother was going to be in so I was told to wait in the car. I didn’t. I opened the car door and stood on my seat to try see what was going on then walked up to a police officer and asked if I could see my brother. Then one lady, who I will never forget and hope she knows how much she helped me that day, took me to a window ledge and she went and asked if I could come see my brother. A lovely couple offered me juice and biscuits, I immediately downed the juice and the lady came back to tell me I could go and see my brother. She told me that his leg was twisted and to try and not look but I was not prepared for what I saw next. My little brother, lying half on the curb half on the road, both legs snapped at right angles twisted under each other, blood by his head and in his mouth, metres from where the van had hit him, my mum on the phone trying frantically to get hold of someone. I knew I couldn’t cry, I gathered all my strength, pushed my feelings of terror and tears to the back of my mind and fell to my knees next to my brother, asked if there was anything I could do to help and just held my brothers hand as tight as I could. There is no chance i would have ever let him go. Finally someone picked up on the phone to my mum and she stepped away from the sirens to talk to them, my brother screamed out my mum and started crying but as soon as I said “It’s okay, I’m here, It’s your sister.” he immediately calmed down and gave me a look as if to say, “I know who you are.” The next thing I remember was the air ambulance landing and my brother being put on a stretcher and me being taken away so I couldn’t hear him scream when his legs were snapped back in place. I could hear the scream, I could hear the scream in the closed car, half way down the road. He was rushed to London hospital in an air ambulance and I remember being naive and saying “It’ll be okay. He’ll come back on crutches. He’s always wanted crutches.” My auntie and uncle took me home and before we got in the door I remember getting a call from my dad to tell me that he had broken both his legs and had a hit to the head. I didn’t cry on the phone. I knew I couldn’t. I ended the call and put my head in my hands and cried. My cousin had just pulled up in her car and rushed over to me and gave me a huge hug. After that everything was a blur. My grandma and granddad stayed over that night and took me to the hospital in London the next day. I had no idea what to expect.
The curtain next to his bed was drawn back and immediately when he saw me his face lit up, even with his legs up in the air, in casts, in an iron frame. I went to the hospital so often that I had memorised the train times, how long it would take to get to the hospital, the quickest way and knew the way do his ward like the back of my hand. I remember going to Sainsbury’s across the road and looking for a “get well soon” card and after hours of looking decided none of them would do, all of them plain and boring, almost patronising. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a card with a yellow background and smiling orangutan on the front. Perfect. I filled the card, both sides with writing, I knew when I went home, he could look at the card and think of me. Eventually I went back to school. People came up to me throughout the day, asking me questions, telling me rumours. All I wanted was for school to be a distraction but it ended up being a place of torture. I couldn’t be with my brother but I was constantly reminded of him. I lost count how many times I cried that day in the toilet by myself. I wanted to be strong, but I wasn’t.
The next few months were extremely tough. I remember watching my brother move himself from the bed to the wheelchair for the first time and holding back tears. I remember him getting frustrated and upset because he is such an active boy and all he wanted to do was get out the chair. I have never seen such determination in someone before. His determination to walk again still inspires me every single day, even after five years. Through sheer determination he went from wheelchair, to zimoframe, to crutches, to being the same active little brother that he was before the accident.
Throughout the entire time it was the little, brief, happy moments that were precious. Like watching a movie on his bed with the cats, playing chess before his second operation, going to Covent garden with my cousin when he had his first operation, my auntie putting her arm in a toy that made her arm look orange and spiky and laughing, being bought flowers by my mums best friend, my dad attempting and failing to push my brother in a wheelchair along the beach, seeing him wheel himself down the wedding aisle at a cousins wedding, and after all this time it is still the little moments that matter. Yes it was five years ago, and yes my brother is alive and perfectly well, but the accident was a trauma that turned our whole worlds upside down.
The world needs to stop living in the past and look at the future. Not constantly be texting on our phones but appreciating the little things that surround us. Always remember, there is hope and love.