Jumbled Eras, 9th grade

Part of an Instagram Art Show

The year we had the accident, I went through an identity crisis. I’m not sure anyone noticed, or they didn’t mention it because my injuries and coma had been so catastrophic that Mandy Is Alive was all anyone talked about. Before the accident I was a typical, if prudish, 15 year-old girl. Had a three-year marathon crush on some boy in my high school. Wrote cryptic poetry. Watched My So Called Life to feel better about my own small woes. Then the accident broke me, literally and emotionally.

This piece of art was one of my first attempts to come to terms with how I had changed, was changing. The reference to Monkeys Aloft from 7th grade is clear. But the monkeys are in a new context: surrounded by my new surgical scars, superimposed on one another on the right side. My broken bones at the bottom left. A coded message to myself at the top left (for which I have no translation). And most prominently, my self-portrait—an homage to Michaelangelo’s self-portrait in the Sistine Chapel’s Judgment Day, a face melting to the floor.

I was decently fit before I got hit by a truck, having trained in off-season basketball that semester. And I had beautiful hair. Newly coiffed into the Jennifer Aniston cut so many women donned in the mid-nineties. The doctors shaved my hair because of my head injury. In the hospital I didn’t care about getting a buzz because I was high on morphine. But when the drugs wore off, I couldn’t recognize this person staring at me in the mirror. Half a shaved head. Scars everywhere. Skinny. Atrophied. Grotesque. Scooting around in a wheelchair or hobbling on crutches.

I pray constantly that God will make us new. That He will renew our strength. Give us grace for today. Rewrite our story into something more beautiful, meaningful, not tainted by selfishness and pride, my desperate grappling for control. He is currently making Joshua and me into new humans. This is not how I expected it to happen. I always imagine waking up one day and everything is just right, sweet, and perfect. We’re rich and have adoring children, live in the home we bought so long ago, renovated and modern. Have chickens. And a garden.

This week I am learning how to be a single mom while Joshua is in the hospital [fighting staph infection in his blood]. Joshua is asleep in a motorized bed a few miles down the road, getting pumped full of antibiotics. He has lost almost 30 pounds in the last month. Etta and Moses shared a room for the first time last night. We are being forced into newness. I don’t recognize us. I believe I will love what we are becoming, but right now it’s just scary.