Just Another Statistic
Just What I Asked For
It was snowing steadily
But not nearly cold enough to stick
So it just glossed over the road
And gleamed in my headlights.
And I know you don't like me driving this road
And not in the dark,
And not in the snow,
And not after parties.
But I don't care right now.
And if I drove off this cliff
Nobody would ever know
That it wasn't an accident.
And it would be such a tragedy --
Another drunken teenage boy dead
Because he thought his 4-wheeler could out-smart the slick.
And I would become another pathetic statistic
That would be read to glossy-eyed highschoolers
While they wondered where to go tonight.
And mom would be all alone again.
Not that she would care,
She never notices when I'm gone anyway.
Just around this corner would be the perfe-
No!! I didn't mean it this way!
Oh God please, I didn't mean it...
My eyelids are so heavy
And so are my arms,
And my legs,
And my heart.
But right now just concentrate on my eyes.
They're as hard to open as the rusted garage door.
But at least I can see some light now
And if I could only focus
Maybe then I could figure out where I am
And go home.
Even though my limbs still won't move...
I must've got really messed up last night
Maybe I should sleep more...
But I promised Lindy lunch today.
What time is it?
And finally my eyes focused
To see a benign cream-coloured ceiling
And then like boulders they rolled around
To find a clock, to find a clue
As to where I was.
A shriek split my head open
And it was followed by my name
That came from a familiar voice.
Why won't my jaw obey?
And is she crying?
I've never seen her cry.
Well... not for about 12 years.
The night that dad left...
Twelve years ago...
My hand won't move to comfort her,
And my lips refuse to ask
...Maybe... Maybe I'm wrong...
And I would have screamed
Or I would have moaned
Or whimpered, or anything
But my lungs betrayed me
And sucked in air
That I hadn't commanded them to.
All I could do was stare at her.
And she stared back,
And asked for forgiveness.
I did the same,
And I think she understood
But I don't remember well
Because of blue slippered feet
Running over glossy waxed floors
Huddled over me.
And my head spun
And my eyes wouldn't stay open.
But I am sorry...
And everyday it was the same
And people came
And then they left.
Always talking in whispers
Even when they thought I was out.
And everything felt so dead.
I felt dead.
I wished I was.
And everyday it was a little worse
Because I was a little more alert
And felt everything a little more.
I didn't like them poking at me
And asking me to squeeze their hands
And reminding me that I couldn't.
My right side didn't seem to exist.
And it hurt to talk
But they asked me everyday
Who I was
And what day it was
They were glad I remembered myself
And it was ok that I got the days wrong sometimes.
Mom said everyday that soon I'd be back to my old self.
I hope not.
She was there a lot the first couple weeks.
But then she had to go back to work
And could only come in the evenings.
And I think she looked a little older,
And her eyes looked tired.
She hadn't dyed her hair in a while,
And her brown roots were showing...
She always hated that.
Somedays her sobbing woke me up.
But I would always wait 'till she stopped
Before I let her know I was there.
I wouldn't know what to say to her,
And she wouldn't want me to see her like that.
She never knew quite what to say
But that was ok because neither did I.
So she would talk about work
And her dope of a boyfriend,
And how the weather was changing.
It was so warm outside.
And Max missed me a lot.
She whined at my door all the time,
Or would jump on my bed and crawl under the blankets
Looking for me.
And she would have to leave after dinner
Because work came early.
She would give me a kiss on my forehead.
But it felt awkward.
And I wished she'd say she loves me.
Or that I would say I love her.
But she didn't.
And I didn't.
And that was just Mom.
After a while they moved me,
And more people came to visit.
The room stank of flowers,
And all the balloons clashed,
And I was running out of space for cards.
But it was better than the ceiling
And the slippers
And the dizziness.
I still hurt though.
And Lindy came to see me
A few days in a row.
But she didn't look at me the same.
And flinched when I tried to hold her hand.
I don't blame her though,
I would have done the same thing.
But it still made me sad.
Her pretty blue eyes didn't adore me anymore,
She seemed almost afraid.
And she would sit too far away
For me to reach her golden hair.
She was leaving on vacation
And would only be home a week
Before she left in August
She promised to visit me when she got back.
But that was just Lindy.
Gina came almost everyday.
She was a foot shorter than me,
And a year younger,
But you could never feel bigger
Or older, or smarter, or wiser
We had been best friends
Ever since she moved onto the big farm
Down the road.
With half the population
Of a small town in Georgia.
Seven brothers and sisters --
Or was it six back then?
Her parents, her grandparents,
And her oldest sister was married
And had twins.
Dad was still with us then,
And the three of us went to see fourteen of them.
And I thought she was cute
So I called her a Four-Eyed-Freckle-Face,
And she pushed me in the mud.
She wore contacts now
But I liked the glasses better.
And her freckles were gone,
Except when she'd got a lot of sun.
But her hair was still long, thick and dark red.
And hung in a lovely braid
Over her shoulder and onto her lap.
She had one green eye, and one brown.
I always felt like the green one was intellectual,
And the brown was emotional.
She would look into you with her green eye
And you could look into her through her brown one.
She looked heart-broken when I saw her.
I had let her down the most I think.
She had the lead in a church play that night
And wanted me to come
Because it meant a lot to her.
Because I meant a lot to her.
But I went to the party instead.
She didn't mention it though.
I tried to say I was sorry once,
But she just shushed me.
She would sit close to me,
And hold my left hand with both her little ones.
Sometimes she would talk,
Sometimes she would listen.
Sometimes she would tickle my toes
Because I could feel that --
Even a little on my right side.
And it made me smile
Even though I hate being tickled.
Sometimes I would cry
And she would scoot closer to me
And wipe away my tears
And stoke my hair back
And comfort me.
She never cried --
At least not in front of me...
Before she left she would give me a hug
And always say she loved me
And most of the time I said it back.
I always meant it.
And that was how it was all summer.
And that was Gina.
The Doctors said my progress was great,
And the nurses said I had a wonderful attitude,
And mom said I was very brave,
And Gina said she was proud of me.
I wish I could have agreed with them.
I told everyone I didn't remember
What had happened;
How I ended up in that trench.
And that was the truth
Because I still don't remember how it happened.
But I remember what I was thinking
Even though I don't think I did it myself.
I suppose God must have a sense of irony
And I had a Godsmack coming.
I never knew He'd hit so hard though.
This was my own fault
Because I was selfish,
And thought my way was the best way,
And I always needed to be in control,
But I didn't know I'd already lost it.
Everyday it was a little worse
Because I woke up a little more
And took responsibility, and felt the guilt.
Every night I cried myself to sleep,
And I knew I wasn't alone
Because the hospital itself wept
For all the tragedies it held.
And when I'd finally had enough
I took a pad of paper and a pen
And in my best left-handed chicken-scratch
Once I started it was like a fever
And the pen wouldn't let go of my hand
Until all the impurities had left.
Everything was angry at first
I wrote down everything that had hurt me,
Or had made me mad.
Everything that was still with me.
And then I wrote everything I had done.
Every selfish, inconsiderate, self centered thing I could think of.
And I signed every page with tears.
When I was done I went back and read it all.
I found out I wasn't nearly done.
So the pen entered my hand again
And I forgave every single thing I wrote down.
And everyone who hurt me.
I took the pages and folded them over,
And addressed it to God.
Because those were things I didn't want anymore
And I couldn't give them to anyone else.
I swore I would learn to be humble,
And selfless, and always forgiving,
Because it this wasn't worth it.
I slept very well that night.
...And Along Came A...
Mom wrote dad right after my accident
And a couple weeks later he wrote back
Saying he was sorry and hoped I'd be ok,
And he'd try to visit
If he got the time.
I told her to throw the letter away
Because he'd "Tried to visit"
A dozen times,
But he never came.
That was ok, though,
Because all I wanted to do was forget him
And the seven year old
Who would bury himself in the covers
Afraid and crying
While his parents screamed.
And every time I would pray
That I wouldn't hear that horrible sound,
A smack and a scream,
But God didn't seem to hear.
After they fought dad would always leave
And not come back until the next day.
One day he just didn't come back at all
And mom said it was for the best.
But I was too little to understand
So I was just mad.
It seemed like a long time since the letter
And I'd forgotten it.
It was Sunday so mom was off work,
And Gina came right after church.
The three of us were playing MadLibs
And laughing because Little Miss Muffet
Had sat on a candle
Snorkeling her bouncyballs and broomsticks.
When along came a fern...
The nurse stood in the doorway
And turned to someone in the hall
And said, "Right this way Mr. Pfifer."
A sad leather-skinned man entered the room
And took off his cowboy hat
And nodded, "Thank you," to the nurse.
I hadn't ever see anyone frown and smile at the same time
But he did.
And his smile was the same as my lopsided grin.
Nobody said anything for what seemed like two eternities...
I didn't really feel anything
Except for a bit of shock that he was actually here.
I wasn't very angry with him anymore.
Maybe I was a little hurt.
He broke the ice
"Why Gina Rae!"
(He always used first and middle names.)
"You've grown a whole foot since I last saw you!"
Even mom had to laugh
Because the truth was
He wasn't too far off.
Gina got up and he took her seat
Next to me
And tousled my hair.
"You've grown a mite too, David Joel."
I still didn't know how to react
So I just said, "Yes, Sir, I have."
He explained that he was just passing though --
He and a friend had gotten jobs as ranch hands up in Montana,
And this wasn't too far out of their way.
(That was a lie. But I didn't care.)
And he just thought he'd stop by
And see how his little boy was doing.
He picked up the MadLibs
And we all played together.
It almost felt like a family again.
Mom had to leave after dinner
Because work came early.
Gina wasn't too far behind her,
She was in another play and had rehearsal.
I promised I would come see her this time
If I could.
It was just me and dad.
We were quiet for a bit
And then he reached into his pocket
And pulled out a hunting knife
With a hand-carved wooden handle
That had a lake scene on one side
And my name on the other.
"A few years back you wrote me
And said you liked to go hunting
With that dog of yours.
And it was almost your birthday
So I got this for you.
Figured I'd come see you
And we could hunt together.
But I just never --
I just never could.
Kept putting it off."
He fidgeted in his chair
And turned his face away from me.
"After I got that letter from your mother
It made me think I wouldn't have forever
To keep putting it off.
So I want you to have this now,
And once you get out of here
Go hunting with Max
And think of me there with you,
Because I don't want you to ever forget about me."
I think he was teary
I know I was,
But we wiped them away before the other could see.
I didn't even know he read my letters.
He mussed my hair again,
And there were two lopsided grins in the room.
He got up and went to the door
"I love you, David Joel. See you later."
I know that "later"
Probably won't be for years.
That was ok, though.
That was Dad.
Just Another Statistic
It seems like all of that happened so long ago
And I would hardly believe it at all
Except for I can't tell if it's the point
Or the eraser of a pencil on my fingertips,
And I walk with a limp.
Little Gina Rae likes to mimic her daddy,
And walks with a "wimp" along side me
"So you won't be the awonewee one who wimps."
I wish she wouldn't sometimes,
But she's just the cutest thing you've ever seen.
My Susan just laughs and calls us her "Wimpy wuvs."
To have unconditional love.
Mom is still in the same town,
At the same job,
And in the same house.
I think she feels safe there.
She calls me about once a week,
Always on a Sunday after dinner.
She never talks past 8:30
Because work comes early.
But she always says she loves me
And I always say it back.
I saw Lindy at our ten year reunion
Just last summer.
She looked very tired
She only completed two years of college
Before she got married to a used car salesman,
And had a baby.
Ron Jr. looks just like his dad.
I truly feel sorry for the kid.
She has three others too
But they were running wild
And I hardly got a glimpse.
Gina belongs to a theatre company in Seattle --
I always go see her plays when I can.
She's been engaged for three years
To an artist she met at a cast party.
The wedding is supposed to be this summer.
Little Gina Rae is the flower girl.
Lets just hope she doesn't limp down the aisle.
For a year after my accident
She was never further than a phone call away.
She helped me heal
But even more
She helped me grow.
I don't know what I would have done without her
All these years...
Ever since she pushed me in the mud...
I went hunting and fishing with dad
Five years after my accident.
I took Max too.
He said it was the best thing he'd done in his life.
Six months later he passed away.
And I was heart broken
Because he really wasn't that bad.
He did what he could.
And I wished I'd known him more.
I found in his things
Every letter I ever wrote him,
And the pictures I drew for him when I was little.
He had all my school pictures
From kindergarten through my senior year.
I take Jake, Max's first puppy, out hunting now.
And I think of dad with us
Because he never wanted to be forgotten.
NBC has "The More You Know,"
And MADD spews statistics at you.
I know I'm included in some,
But it means nothing.
I'm not writing this
To say, "Don't drink and drive."
If you have to be told
You'll probably find out for yourself
And I don't really care
If you remember anything about me.
I just wanted to say I exist.
And I needed to separate myself
From the masses.
Because it would kill me
To be just another statistic.