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Trapped in Bubblegum Pink
People say I shouldn’t be able to remember the accident so vividly, but I do.
Photo: Olivia in her body cast
I was only three. But I remember my mother’s heels that adorned my sister’s small feet getting stuck in the gas pedal of the golf cart and the front end of the golf cart crushing my tiny legs into a piano bench and the sounds of our adolescent laughter being ripped from our lungs in an instant. The screams of my sister and my mother, assuming my sister was exaggerating when she said my legs were a mass of purple mush, and the tears streaming down my sister’s face while she was struggling to carry me. Then my mother watching my jelly filled legs unable to hold me up and her immediately calling 911 and seeing the neighbors perched on their doorsteps with prying eyes trying to get a better look at me being rushed to the helicopter and the incessant beeping of machines and the whirring sound of the helicopter blades and waking up so many times during the night at the hospital that it felt as if I were there for weeks. It happened in exactly that order.
Both of my femurs were broken and the bone fragments in my left leg were centimeters away from puncturing my femoral artery, which would have caused me to internally bleed to death before reaching the hospital. But, I made it out alive. The accident left me in a bubblegum pink body cast that came up to my armpits and I was confined to a wheelchair, but my spirits were high. Well, at least I thought so.
The weeks following the accident my time was filled with being showered with toys that my family, neighbors, and church congregation gave me. It felt as if everyone in town either sent gifts or cards or came to visit me. I felt famous. I know that when they were gossiping about the accident, they weren’t talking only about how they wished me a speedy recovery. They thought my mom was irresponsible as if she wasn’t juggling working, rearing three kids, and her husband being shot at in Afghanistan at the time of the accident.
My father, given leave a few days after he found out about the accident, visited me. I thought it was magic and I was overjoyed to have my family together. My adolescent brain was convinced that he would be able to stay home forever to protect me from any more accidents. Two weeks later, he had to go back.
The only black holes in my memory are my emotions and the repercussions of trauma, but my mom and sister helped me piece that together every time we talk about it. My mother informed me of the most shocking information that I had forgotten; I didn’t cry that night, I didn’t talk for weeks, I had night terrors for a long time. Every single time the accident comes up in conversation I wonder why I did all of those things and the more I dissect the situation the more I realize that I was too young to both cope with trauma or to understand what was happening to me.
The emotions harbored themselves in night terrors that left me screaming and thrashing in bed, well, thrashing as best a three year old in a body cast can. When my mother explained my night terrors to me, she went pale as if she had seen a ghost, holding back tears that threatened to spill down her face.
Hearing about these night terrors made me realize that my family heard me screaming bloody murder every night, and my sister, Madison, admitted that it made her relive the accident every night. She told me that when our mother sent her to one of our friend’s houses the night of the accident she hid in a closet crying. She thought she had killed me and she was going to jail, she was eight years old. I can laugh about it now.
It took her awhile to be able to look at me without seeing the damage had inflicted after I came home from the hospital. She admitted she tried to avoid me because seeing me in that state brought her to tears and when my mom told her that all I wanted to do was be with her she was confused. She thought I would hate her for the rest of my life and the funny thing is, I never once was upset with her. I loved her all the same.
© Olivia Rosado 3.16.21
a sophamore student with Dr. Devet at College of Charleston.
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