I’ve been struggling with how to write about this without being exploitative or unjustly lionising myself. Names have been changed for the sake of the former at least.
I haven’t exactly kept it a secret that I didn’t care for my last job. Because of that, I didn’t let the people there rub off on me too much. My take on it is that if you don’t want to take your work home with you, then that goes for your co-workers too. As a result I only have contact with a handful of people who I used to work with.
It’s fair to say that Kristen wasn’t one of them. Ten years my junior, a smoker and drinker with a habit of leaving the white noise app on her phone running for long periods of time, we just didn’t have a lot in common. We got along fine at work but that was it, I didn’t see her on my last day and I hadn’t had any contact with her since I left back in August. Truth be told I hadn’t thought about her all that much.
That changed when I got a message from another former co-worker (for reference we’ll call her Andrea) who told me Kristen had been in a pretty serious motorcycle accident. She’d remembered the time the three of us had spent together at work (apparently more fondly than I did) and thought it’d cheer Kristen up if we visited her in hospital.
I was sceptical of how useful I’d be in this situation, but it wasn’t really something I could say no to. So arrangements were made to meet up one evening in a place where we could easily make the trip to the hospital.
We turned up unannounced, and Kristen already had three people with her. I have to imagine they’re there fairly often.
Unfortunately my scepticism rang true, and I had trouble finding things to say. I sat back and let Andrea take the lead, chiming in myself on occasion. After only 45 minutes visiting hours were up and we had to leave. Despite me not helping much, Kristen and her friends thanked me for coming.
Though I didn’t spend much time with Kristen nor did I say much to her, nor do I have much idea how she’s been coping in the month or so since the accident, I couldn’t help but notice how upbeat she was. She talked about how she’d been interviewed for a BBC television programme, and how she was going to buy a horse with her compensation money. She was even relieved that my former employer was going to keep her job open for her.
I don’t know if that’s optimism or naivety. I really hope it’s the former.
Finding out about the accident, I’d said to Andrea that it could be worse. She’d agreed and said that yes, she could have been killed. However that wasn’t quite what I’d been thinking.
The doctors have already told Kristen that she’ll never walk again. She’s nineteen years old, was a passenger in an accident that wasn’t her fault, and she’ll never walk again.
I’ve been so wrapped up in my own problems over the last few months that I forget how lucky I am sometimes. In regards to my health, I’ve never so much as broken my arm. Even so, when I look at OAPs using mobility scooters, Zimmer frames and wheelchairs; I cringe and think about how that isn’t going to be me if I can help it. Imagine having that bubble burst before you’re even twenty.
Suddenly lost friends, disappointing first kisses and fruitless job searches don’t seem as important as they did three months ago.
I’ve probably thought about Kristen more over the last two days than I had for the last ten months. I hope she keeps her spirits up, I really do. But ultimately I hope the doctors are wrong and she won’t need to get by on just her own enthusiasm. Whatever happens, I’m sure she’ll take it better than I could.
On my end? For once I’m going to appreciate what I’ve got.