About a year ago, almost exactly, my fiancée and I were enjoying our destination wedding in Wyoming with a very small group of our people. Then I had to go and get airlifted to overnight surgery and a nine-day hospital stint. “Happiest day of my life” it was not.
The shortest way to tell the story is that I crashed an off-road buggy while my friends, family, fiancée and I were goofing around in some pre-wedding reindeer games. The vehicle tumbled, my left hand got caught between its roll cage and the ground, and was quite literally pulverized between rocks and a hard thing.
This is a story I’ve tried and failed to write many times. The closest I got was an Instagram post I tossed up to explain my absence from the internet, which I felt compelled to do, since it’s my job to be here.
But somehow, speaking about it out loud was a little easier. Podcaster and friend of mine David Obuchowski interviewed me, and my now-wife Sydney, separately, about the worst day of our lives and the subsequent slog of a year that followed for his podcast Tempest. The story’s presented from both of our perspectives in stereo, so to speak, so you can hear how an accident at the most inopportune moment feels for the person who fucks up, and the person who has to clean up. I wouldn’t wish either fate on anybody.
You can open the audio up on the Acast website, or just press play right from this Twitter embed:
Despite real progress with physical and mental rehabilitation, a heavy sense of guilt still drags on me like a stuck handbrake over a split-second mistake that cost my family and me more misery than I realized it was possible to experience. Yes, I’ve had a charmed existence. But spending your wedding night being reassembled on an operating table is not the kind of thing most of us picture as a possibility.
The fact that I have hundreds of hours of experience driving in the dirt, and actually do it for a living, only makes the wipeout a more shameful error. “Keep your hands and feet inside the ride” is pretty basic etiquette, but as I learned, when things start to go sideways and upside-down it can be tough to behave like you’re taught to.
Meanwhile, I hope you find the podcast enlightening, and if nothing else, take away an appreciation for what it’s like to be a caregiver when you least expect to, and how to express sympathy for someone who’s been hurt.