Challenge Day 21: (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two get into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Right off the bat here, I don’t like this prompt for a couple reasons.
First, I hate the whole ‘what would you do in this situation’ premise. If life has taught me anything, it’s that you never know what you’re going to do in any situation until the situation arrives. We all (or at least me, but I’d like to think I’m not alone here) sit back and shout at the TV/movie screen complaining, ‘Oh come on!! That’s so stupid!’ before turning to our viewing partner and saying, ‘Ya, I totally wouldn’t have done that; I would have (insert appropriate sounding course of action here) instead’. Seriously, the other night while watching the season finale of The Walking Dead, I was shouting at the characters about their lack of situational awareness, “Damn it you moron!! Don’t you see the herd of zombies coming across the field? Now is so not the time for that oh-so-special father and son moment! Move your damn ass!” I always seem to have commentary for the characters on the other side of the screen; especially when it comes to horror. (It really only seems weird when I’m alone, and instead of turning to my buddy after I’ve made the comment, I have a little ha-ha conversation with myself.) The truth is, I have no idea how I’d deal with a zombie apocalypse, so this is just me being judgmental – it’s okay though; they’re only judgements against make believe characters so I consider this one a pass.
As a ‘furthermore’, we all (or at least me, but again I’m hoping I’m not alone here) see stories in the news and think or say similar things. For example (and I know I’ve had this conversation somewhere recently, but can’t quite remember when/where); the man who turns out to be a serial killer while his wife of twenty years has no idea… Who hasn’t thought to themselves, ‘Ya, there is no way that one would have gotten past me!’? Again, we have no idea how we’d deal with the situation until we’re actually in the situation. Think about this; how many of us have been so deeply in love with someone that we’ve been completely blind to the fact that they’re shagging half our friends? (*Raises hand*) Now, if someone could pull something like that over our eyes, we have to consider the fact that they might be able to get away with even more devious actions right under our love-sick little noses. Right?
The second reason why I’m not overly fond of this prompt is that it’s so unspecific; how bad was the accident? Did my friend go to the hospital? If so, why; did they break a leg? Did they lose a toe? Do they need a blood transfusion? Are they in a coma? Did they… die? Also, what did we fight about? I need to know how much guilt I’m carrying around. I mean, it makes a pretty big difference what we’re bickering about. Was it over the fact that they borrowed one of my books and folded over corners – grrr – or maybe the fight was because I caught them leech-facing my man… or what if we fought because they were trying to drive home after drinking and I was being my usual self and demanding they stay the night in my spare room… that sort of thing gets me a little uptight, so I could see us having a heated one about that. Depending on what the fight was over and how bad the fight was, it’s logical to assume that I’d deal with the whole thing in a number of different ways. Without the details, how am I even supposed to begin to guess at how I might react?
Now I know, as a writer I should (probably) just use my imagination and let this one take me wherever it might, right? And yes, I could, but that wouldn’t exactly be honest since – as I said – I have no idea how I’d actually react to this particular situation with this particular friend. Since I don’t want to do that, I’m going to take another approach to this same question; I’m going to tell you something that I have actually had to deal with that is at least somewhat related to this prompt. I’m also going to try to do it in a way that doesn’t come off too gloomy, and then I’ll finish it all off with a ‘the moral of this story is…’ moment.
My father is a bit of a whore; honestly, most of my family calls him ‘the wandering jack rabbit’ because he’s left a trail of kids all across Canada. Not the point, but it relates. You see, when I was about fifteen, I met one of my older brothers for the first time; we’ll call him Arnold. I met Arnold when he came out from Ontario to stay with my dad; I was also visiting the man at the time; and we didn’t exactly hit it off. He got along great with my little sister (I think we’ve been calling her Jade – and she’s my only full-blood sibling, by the way), but he and I just couldn’t seem to see eye-to-eye. I loved the guy, but I thought I hated him too.
Anyway, he couldn’t see eye-to-eye with Daddy-O either, and he ended up coming back to the Okanogan to live with my mom (she used to babysit him as a kid you see, it’s a really long story so we’ll just leave it there), Jade, me and my little brother (we’ll call him Brody). As time went on, the little differences that put me and Arnold at odds seemed to grow and grow until we couldn’t even be in the same room together without turning it into a war zone.
Arnold had stayed on with my mom and the lot even after I left home, but when I was about eighteen he decided he couldn’t deal with that insanity anymore than I could, and so he headed back to the coast. I didn’t even go home for his farewell dinner, and I never said goodbye. The last time I ever saw him, we’d had a massive blow out about him letting himself into my shitty little apartment to borrow CDs without my express permission.
Less than a year later, Arnold was dead.
Now there were some really shady elements about his death, and no one seems all that certain as to whether it was murder or suicide, but since this mystery doesn’t really factor into the story I’m telling right now, we’ll just move on.
After Arnold left the Okanogan, I only talked to him twice on the phone; they were extremely short, and rather cold conversations. I never said sorry for all of my bullshit, I never forgave him for his, and I never told him I loved him. I was a kid, and I was right (or so we usually think we are when we’re young), and since I assumed we’d have a lifetime to get over ourselves and deal, I never considered the fact that we might never have the chance to really become brother and sister.
Though we weren’t close, his death was one of the hardest I’ve ever had to deal with. The guilt I felt was intense and the sense of loss was even more about lost chances than a lost life. I’d always wanted a big brother, you see, and when I finally got to meet one of mine, I blew the chance, and I blew him off. It took me a very long time to make peace with the whole situation; to forgive myself for being a stupid kid and to forgive him for ending up dead before we could clean up the mess we’d made of things.
The moral of this story is; we never know what tomorrow brings, so live in the moment and try not to make decisions you might come to regret in the future. Don’t let your loved ones out of your sight while you’re at odds – don’t let your last words be angry ones. Don’t allow little fissures in your relationships to grow into massive canyons; the second the distance begins to grow between you, try to build a bridge. Don’t put things off… It doesn’t matter how young or healthy we are, or how much time we think we have left to heal old wounds; any one of us could walk out that door tomorrow and get hit by a bus, so when/if possible, take out the Band-Aids and get the healing started while you still have the chance.
Yes, it’s all easier said then done, but it’s wisdom I try to live by these days. Am I infallible; do I always follow my own philosophies to a tee? No, I’m a lot wiser than I once was, but I’m still human and thus extremely prone to errors. At least I do make attempts to rectify my mistakes as soon as I catch myself slipping up… and that’s got to count for something.