"Nooo, I think that's a bad idea; you come with me," someone said.
I'm a volunteer at the Basilica parish, and I am currently taking a six-session Leadership training program there.
I know Janice, the Director of Christian Life Ministries, and she delivered the presentation for the fourth session. She made some points about radical hospitality; that reminded me of a book I had read, and I wanted to mention the book to her.
Finishing a written evaluation of the evening, I was among the last to get up from the tables. Another participant was speaking to Janice, I waited, and then spoke to Janice about the book.
On my way to the double doors leading to the landing at the top of the five flights of steps, I said good night to Paula, and stopped to get some pizza leftover from dinner. I remember I closed only the lid of the box. The next thing I remember is being in the parking lot, realizing that my head is bleeding and deciding to drive home.
"Nooo, I think that's a bad idea; you come with me," someone said, as 2 or 3 people helped get me back inside the school. ( I believe the people included a Basilica security guard, other staff people and some fellow students. ) They sat me on a chair just inside the door; there was much excitement. Someone gave me a towel to stem the blood flow. I heard them talking about calling 911 and I did not wish to argue. I had trouble coming up with the phone number for Paula to call my wife. We blocked the doorway; we moved to an alcove, perhaps fifteen feet to the right of where we began. With help, I walked over. I was grateful to sit again.
By the time the ambulance arrived, my head was clear. I clearly had no idea how I had navigated the steps from the third floor. They put me in the ambulance ( I recall having a pretty good time with them; we joked around and I found they have a pretty good sense of humor. ), took all my vitals, did an EKG, and found everything normal.
Once at the ER, I was able to tell three additional people that I had no idea how I had acquired the gash in the back of my head. Lots of blood work, more tests, including a repeat of the EKG and a heart monitor for a while, showed me to be completely normal, medically speaking.
I did, however, have that two-inch gash in the top left quadrant of the back of my head. The ER doctor ( who, interestingly enough, was married at the Basilica a number of years before ) sealed that wound with five staples, which he said to remove in a week. He also suggested … well, no, insisted, with a good-natured threat … that I see my primary care doctor in the next couple of days. When I agreed he agreed to discharge me.
After hearing this story, a friend of mine said, "Well, that's sobering." Indeed.
Innumerable people have said it: "Take nothing for granted; life is all gift, nothing is guaranteed." Not a one of their saying it impacted me as this experience did. Having no memory of traversing the five flights of steps to the parking lot and receiving a two inch head wound while so doing is sobering, scary, and reason to be grateful for every moment.
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