Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Why didn't you tell me to stay in?"

When Marcus was 15 he had a terrible bike riding accident.  We just got through having dinner and he received a call from one of his best buds, Tony.  Tony asked Marcus if he wanted to spend the night at his house.  Being all the way in Plano, Marcus really had to work to convince me to take him back to North Dallas.  He had a football game that night and we were just in North Dallas.  It was also stormy that night.  Heavy rains, thunder and lightning were working against his favor.  But I relented.  So Alex and I dropped him off at Tony's house with his new mountain bike in the back of my truck.  

Usually when I drop him off at Tony's I spend time talking to Marcus reminding him not to leave or go joy riding with Tony.  Although Tony was younger he knew how to drive since his family owned a fleet of limousines.  But acknowledging that Marcus was maturing and I wanted to show him more trust we did not go through the routine.

Just true to Murphy's form - Marcus did venture out that night to retrieve an extra game console controller from his Grandmother's house.  It was late, dark and stormy - conditions just rife for something awful to happen.  As Marcus was approaching Mydia's back alley he hit a pothole and went flying over the handlebars.  His face hit the concrete!!!  He lost a front tooth.  The tooth actually tore a hole in his upper lip on the way out of his mouth.  So at around 2:00 AM that night my mother-in-law called to let me know that she and Sophie (Tony's mother) are at RHD Hospital because they took Marcus there after his accident. 

He received stitches for his torn lip and was doomed to be toothless for weeks.  The first thing Marcus told me when he saw me at the hospital was, "I am thory I leftth Thony'sh houshe," with an almost exaggerated lisp.  The second thing he said to me was, "Why didn't you tell me to stay in?"  Half joking but mostly serious,  now that I think back.  That's when I told him, "I wanted to show that I trusted you and that I knew you were going to choose right." 

This exchange has been going through my mind lately.  I know my son was his own man that fatal day.  I know that his actions were not out of malice or extreme confidence.  They were just actions taken knowing everything will be fine - nothing bad can happen.  I know his mother reminded him all the time not to text and drive and not to talk on his cell while driving.  But I can almost hear him now half joking saying, "Why didn't you tell me not to drive distracted Dad?" 

This time this accident does not end in a funny story.  After the bike accident, before going to the hospital Marcus insisted they look for his tooth.  Knowing he would need it put back in the gaping hole in his smile.  They were not successful in finding it that night.  We all assumed it was gone since his accident happened right in front of a storm drain.  It rained two inches that night and that area is known to flood.  The next morning Sophie and Tony returned to the accident site and lo and behold there was Marcus' tooth!  Almost miraculously they found his tooth.  By the way after that tooth was artificially implanted, he lost it several times more from playing sports, biting into a burger and salt water taffy.

Now whenever we pass each accident site, one makes me smile and the other crushes my heart into a million pieces.  It is amazing that even now when we stop at the Tonkawa exit, we still see bits of glass from the wreck, paramedic gloves or even coins.  I hate this fucking spot, but I am drawn to it.  This is the spot where my son took his last breath.  I will be visiting this spot until my very last breath.

Ironic bag of Lifesavers from Marcus' car - did not work that night
More debris from the accident - picture taken two nights later
the site under water with vegetation un-mowed - picture taken three months after accident