It started out as the greatest weekend ever. Five best friends from college. One storybook cabin. Set on the most picturesque lakefront in northern Wisconsin. A whole weekend to play and laugh – and pick up right where we left off since the last time we were together. We had been planning the reunion weekend for months, and things were already sublimely perfect that Saturday afternoon.
We were taking turns on the rope swing – the same one Bailey and her family had been using since she was a young child. The first time was certainly intense, but everyone successfully made the jump from the wooden platform to the deeper part of the lake. All our fears were subsided. Mine included. But it turns out that the third time really is a charm – and on my third jump, my legs caught hold of the land, and I was dragged into the water, landing face first on a rock in the shallows. At least that is how it has been described to me. I immediately got a concussion and have zero recollection of the next 2 hours of my life.
I’ve had some time to deal with the trauma of breaking my face and losing all physical components of my identity…but honestly? The one trauma I cannot even begin to comprehend is the one shared by my friends, as they had to drag my unconscious body out of the water. I wish this kind of awful event on no one – and my heart goes out to beautiful, incredible souls that were there that afternoon. Yes, already my best friends. But my love and connection to them has grown leaps and bounds because of this incident. I will forever be in awe of Bailey, Jake, Jenn, Janelle, and Mickey – and all that they did for me that day and have continued to do for me every moment since.
I know everyone went into immediate action mode – from retrieving me, stabilizing me on land, calling 911, and following me to not one, but two hospitals across northern Wisconsin. My first undeniable gratitude goes to Jake Dahlin – Bailey’s boyfriend.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had been hoping for a pure girl’s weekend at the cabin. I knew it would be fun regardless, but I was still being a whiney 7-year-old girl at the time and craving alone time with the girls. But Jake’s presence that weekend is proof that everything truly does happen for a reason. If Jake had not been there, I am not sure I’d be typing this right now. He remained completely calm and collected in the face of this tragedy, (a trait that does not come naturally to us girls – sorry ladies) and was able to pull me from the water with the help of Bailey and Jenn. He kept my head and neck completely stable while my blood fell on his lap. I will forever be grateful for Jake and the immense support he provided to my friends as they dealt with this unforeseeable accident. I’m sure this statement is against a feminist code somewhere: but I am so happy a male was around – and one as capable and caring as Jake.
I know that Bailey and Jenn helped cradle my body as well – while Mickey and Janelle called 911, and waited for the ambulance. Not only did these girls have to deal with the trauma of the moment, but they also had to deal with me being a relentless bitch when I finally came to.
You see – I am the go-to girl in the group. Or at least I usually like to think so. Whatever you need – physical, emotional, or mental – I have you covered. I am always in control. So when I woke up on a hospital bed with a neck brace, a morphine drip, and a bloody swimsuit, I went into hyper anti-vulnerable mode. Post-concussed Melissa apparently started barking orders at my friends – demanding to know where crucial things were like my air mattress and my sparkly headband.
You know. Important things.
This reaction apparently helped soothe my friend’s concerns. I was certainly acting like my typical, sassy self. And if you ever get the chance – ask them for their take on my hospital visit. It’s a tragedy turned comedy. I apparently requested a beer at one point….
Only one girl was allowed in the emergency room at a time, and they all took their turns holding my hand, rubbing my head, and assuring me that I was going to be okay – despite my sass bucket attitude.
Mickey held my hand tightly, and did not flinch once as the doctor had to suture my eyelid. She even prompted me to use my yoga breathing to deal with the pain. The thought of her saying those words brings tears to my eyes still – because she knew exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. And she didn’t flinch when I proceeded to projectile vomit all over the room from the pain meds…
And then there is Matt.
No questions asked, Matt traveled an hour and a half on a Saturday night to be with me in the hospital. The girls had been through enough between Minocqua and Marshfield, and Matt took the reigns. He immediately dropped everything to come to my aid. He stayed with me all night in my hospital bed – through countless episodes of pokes, pricks, pukes, pain meds, and tremors. And lying in a twin hospital bed is no easy task for someone that is 6 foot 7….
When I was finally allowed to eat the next day, he went all over Marshfield colleting every item I could have ever wanted – Culvers custard with hot fudge, pulled pork sandwich, bacon cheeseburger, Burger King fries, hash browns– and the ultimate care package filled with Band-Aids, Neosporin, Ibuprofen – everything. It was later we learned that my recovery would take a lot more than Band-Aids. I would need to have facial reconstruction surgery to repair the multiple broken bones across my cheek and eye.
And so the train phone began. To my brother in Madison. My parents in Boston. And everyone else from California to Denmark. It was difficult for me to communicate with anyone – so Matt became my impromptu nurse and my telephone operator, making sure my parents were constantly texted, called, and informed until they could be there themselves for the surgery.
Pretty funny how it takes breaking your face to make you realize that you are the luckiest, most loved individual on the planet. The love and gratitude that I have for everyone that has been by my side since the moment I fell astounds me. To the point that I can barely find words to continue.
I mostly wanted to write this post to say “Thank you”. Thank you to everyone that has shared their time, thoughts, words, prayers, and compassion with me. It has not gone unnoticed. It may seem like a simple text to you – but it means the world to me. Because words mean everything to me. So thank you to everyone that has shared their words. Thank you for reminding me that home is not about a location. It’s a place in my heart where all your love lives. Thank you for brining me home.
More to come on Saving Face…