Reflections on the 20 year anniversary of my death

On August 17, 1999, I was run over by a van.

I was on a motorcycle doing about 50 mph, and then I was on the ground in a pool of blood doing 0 mph. My femur was sticking through my leg, my hip was shattered and I was bleeding to death in the middle of a 3-lane highway.

It’s been 20 years, so I was feeling nostalgic a few nights ago and I pulled out the old manila folder full of “stuff” from the accident: photos, police reports, mountains of medical bills, and a thank-you letter that I had written after the accident. The letter was what I was after.

I have almost no recollection of what actually happened in the few minutes after I saw a van pull into my lane and I hit the brakes. I remember laying down and feeling wet (blood). I remember hearing sirens and then I remember seeing the hospital ceiling lights flashing past my eyes as my gurney was wheeled down a hallway. Then 3 days of mostly morphine-induced stupor. Most of my “memories” are pieced together from what I read in my own drug-permeated, fog-filled police reports, and stories I heard after the fact. The thank-you letter was my way of telling everyone what happened at once, rather than 1,000 times over and over, and also thanking the people that helped me through everything. The thank-yous were directed at the people closest to me; my wife, my Mom, a few good friends, and then there was a stranger I thanked named Tim Stalbaum.

So, because it’s 2019,  and I can, I Googled “Tim Stalbaum”, and this popped up:

MOTORCYCLE RIDER HURT IN NORTHWEST WICHITA CRASH

20 years later, the stranger that came to my rescue after I was in a life-threatening motorcycle accident, was in a life-threatening motorcycle accident in Kansas.

I’ve searched for the word to describe it – it’s not ironic and it’s not coincidental, it’s weird, it’s eerie, and it sucks. I’m really not sure how to process the information either. If he was still in WI I’d visit him and we could ruminate on the coincidence.

I wouldn’t wish my experience on my worst enemy, and certainly not on someone who selflessly helped a stranger the way he had. I hope and pray that he is able to recover the way I have, and someday he’ll have to pull out a dusty file to bring the memories back.

 

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