Mandibular symphyseal fracture.
Left horizontal mandibular ramus fracture.
Right horizontal mandibular ramus fracture.
Right condylar process high-neck fracture.
Multiple right orbital hairline fractures.
These words, like ghosts, echoed with a sort of faint, forlorn pitch through the corridors of my semi-conscious mind. And, like ghosts, they faded as I woke, to the point where I wondered if I had really heard them in the first place.
I was in a hospital bed. Luxurious compared to the gurney.
Contrasting that was the tight, loud ache boring through my face and head.
I lifted my hand and brought it slowly, groggily toward my face. I paused it mid-air as I saw an IV snaked around it and taped to my wrist. I looked down at the rest of my body. Wires disappeared beneath my gown.
I looked up to take in the rest of the room. Hospital equipment beeped beside my bed. Nurses and doctors and family conversed quietly in the corner.
One of the nurses broke away from the group, came over to me, and smiled reassuringly.
“Let’s get you to the bathroom, okay hon?”
She pulled the blankets back. I stepped gingerly onto the cold floor with my bare feet. I padded carefully across the room as she held my arm with one hand and rolled the IV stand with the other.
As we entered the bathroom, I finally caught a glimpse of myself in the large mirror, and I got to see what everyone else had been looking at for all these hours.
And my heart broke into countless pieces. Broke for my family.
Because I realized the strength it must have taken to hide their fear and horror from me.
And I realized how broken they were too. You couldn’t not be.
And that all of this was because of me. The collective fears and sadness were because of me.
I stared at myself, and my entire being broke inside, over and over and over.