The Scariest Day.
If I looked back on all my birthdays, I’d have to say that this one by far has been the worst, but also the best.
Mehdi’s mom invited me to go to her friend’s lake house at Shuswap Lake with their family last week. We swam, hiked, had a BBQ, and bonfire, and overall it was an incredible week. On Thursday, August 9th just as we were packing up to go, the crew decided they wanted to go on a last boat ride. Mehdi and his cousins spontaneously decided to go cliff jumping on a nearby island called Copper Island. From what I saw on all the videos they took, it seemed like a pretty great time they were having. But it wasn’t until after Mehdi jumped, and they realized he wasn’t moving, speaking or breathing that something serious had happened. Deciding to stay behind to get some work done, I was typing away enjoying the sunshine for a solid three hours, when an amazing vacation at a lake house quickly turned into extreme terror. Mehdi’s cousin Jonas walks into the house, and says to me “Hey. Mehdi fell and isn’t moving, talking and hardly breathing”. I definitely thought for a moment that he was messing with me. From what he said, it sounded like Mehdi was paralyzed. A massive wave of sweat, shivers and intense fear creeped up as I decided to get up and have a look at what was going on. As much as I try and describe with words what I was feeling, it is quite impossible. There really isn’t much to even describe about a moment when you think you’ve lost your best friend. I walked up to him laying down on the boat, and he looked at and proceeded to make a joke “hey!…..oh my god. It’s SO funny…I went cliff jumping and out of 10 little kids I was the one that got injured” he said. The poor guy could barely get these words out due to his intense pain.. I mean, he could barely breathe. But despite his pain, he saw me and had to say this. It meant so much. Also, knowing he still had his humour in him let me know that he was still himself. I definitely felt tiny sigh of relief.
But he was groaning. So much that I’ve never seen someone in so much pain with my own two eyes and I can not believe that it was my Mehdi. I repeatedly wished to myself that it was me instead of him. Seeing the one you love most this hurt is the single most devastating thing to exist. I wished I had told him to be more careful. I wished I had told him to wear a life jacket. I wished I had not been so needy, like somehow that stressed him out and caused his body to be tense. I could hear his laugh in my head and the jokes he says and thoughts were rushing through my head like “What if I will never hear them again” I was uncontrollably shaking. I truly do not remember the last time I had to hold back tears. I knew that this once, I couldn’t break. I sat next to him until the ambulance arrived. They picked him up in a stretcher and took him to a hospital which had a trauma unit, 1.5 hour away.
When his mom and I arrived at the hospital, the paramedic who took him happened to walk by us and said “I’ll take you to him”. I was so thankful that we had run into her. We arrived at his bed and he says “heyyy guys! The painkillers kicked in I feel SO much better!” I could tell he was trying to play it off. For us. Just so that we wouldn’t worry. But I know him well enough to know that even through the painkillers, he was suffering. I mean, he could barely move. I was still uncontrollably shaking. Nurses were in and out doing different kinds of tests. A nurse came in to give him an IV, and another to take blood. Watching him in pain, hooked onto a machine, and with an IV being put in, I definitely got extremely lightheaded and nauseous. After six hours, and a CT scan, we learned that he had fractured his T7 vertebrae. Out of all the possibilities that could have happened that day, this was probably the best case scenario. I was upset that he now has to be on painkillers for who knows how long. I am so thankful that something worse did not happen.
His photographic mind had to say the words “take a photo of this sunset” on the way back to Vancouver. This photo was the first time he smiled since the injury.
This experience has taught me the biggest lesson in my life that I could have learned: gratitude. I definitely thought I’d had it down. I’m always saying “thank you” in my mind. But when I saw Mehdi laying down not moving, the one sentence I told myself was “I have taken him for granted”.
Anyone who knows Mehdi and I knows we have a complicated relationship. They know this because they’ve probably heard the bickering, haha. But in all honesty, it has been messy. I’ve felt like I’ve lost him many times. But on Thursday, August 9th, when he wasn’t able to move or even breathe, for a moment I felt like I had lost him forever. It’s amazing how small your troubles seem when really real things happen. That night, I said to him: “This was definitely the last time I have ever taken you for granted”.
On my previous birthdays, I’ve woken up ready to either party, ready to relax, spend time with family, always wanting that birthday high. On Aug 11th, I woke up filled with gratitude because Mehdi was able to sit up properly without pain. He was on weaker painkillers. He was capable of picking up his phone in the morning to play the song 22 by Taylor Swift. My birthday gift has been the best birthday gift: Mehdi’s fast recovery.