It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. It had been a great ride, lots of nice bikes and people. A good lunch and perfect weather. I finished off the last mouthful of my Timmy’s coffee, enjoying the flavor for a second or two, and headed out to the parking lot. Glancing at my watch, I walked towards the spot where my police Harley sat gleaming in the afternoon sun. It was five o’clock. Perfect timing! By the time I left the service centre and enjoyed a leisurely cruise back to the detachment, it would be just about quitting time. After shoving my leather jacket into the saddlebag, I climbed on and headed for the 401. Just as I approach the highway, four other O.P.P. bikes roared by, heading home as well.” A stroke of luck,” I thought, “some company for the trip.” I hit the throttle hard and after a few miles, I was nicely tucked in behind the 4th bike and settled in for the ride back.
While travelling along I noticed a small green car gaining on me from behind at a pretty good clip. I watched him pull into the right Lane and come right up beside me – he was not slowing down! I tried to make eye contact with the driver, but he would not look at me. As he continued past me, I realized that his path was blocked by a car in front of him and the bikes on his left. Incredibly, he signalled and pulled between me and the rider ahead! That rider had been watching all this in his mirror, so he turned on his seat and motioned the driver of the car to pull back to the right Lane. The car driver panicked and slammed on his brakes instead. What followed is something of a blur for me, even four months later. I vaguely recall the screeching of tires, faintly as if from a distance. I felt my bike shaking badly like it was trying to throw me off … then blackness.
“Try to keep him dry,” a very distant voice said. There was some more conversation, but it sounded very far away. I tried to focus my eyes, but it seemed like I was in a big orange tent with these strange voices. What I did not realize at that time was that my comrades and the paramedics were holding raincoats over my body as they loaded me onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. Moments after my crash, it had begun to rain heavily, and they were doing their best to keep me dry. As they fastened the stretcher into the back of the ambulance I struggled desperately to figure out where I was and what was happening. I felt nothing so I just closed my eyes and went back to sleep.
As God had then graciously spared my life, He has also now spared me the agony of reliving, in my mind, the violent and painful impact of my body as it struck and then tumbled along the highway that day. I was unable to recall any of those details. Over the next 48 hours most of the rest had come back. I remember that I had swerved my bike on time and had managed to avoid hitting the car that braked. This action, combined with my own hard braking, caused me to be thrown from my bike onto the highway where I rolled and slid for some 150 meters. My bike slid into the median and I came to rest in the middle of the right Lane.
The hours and days that followed have in a way gotten blended and condensed in my mind. Events passed with whirlwind speed, but a few scenes stay fresh and vivid. I expect they always will. I can picture so clearly the pain on my wife’s face as she struggled with the tears when they first ushered her into the treatment room.
There was a lump of emotion that welled up in my own throat as I asked her not to cry – because I was afraid that if she cried, I would cry too. Somehow, I felt as if I had hurt her or let her down by being here. One by one my shift mates came into the room to say a quick hello, their expressions of care and concern so vivid yet today. And how will I ever forget the following morning, in Hamilton, when my wife came into my hospital room and kissed me, followed by my five children. I still smile when I picture all of them filing quietly into the room and standing against the back wall, a little bit nervous and intimidated by the whole situation. I am not sure what they expected to see but they were obviously relieved that other than a bit of road-rash on his face, the guy in the bed looked and sounded just like the father they had last seen the day before.
With the passing of more time there were good days and bad. There was the constant pain, the boredom, the long, lonely nights in my recliner in the living room because I could not sleep in a bed, and the inability to do even the most basic things for myself. But there was also precious time spent reading books which encouraged my soul, the extra time with my family, and the wonderful fellowship with the many people who came daily for weeks after. There was also the incredible flood of cards which arrived daily. These became a highlight of every day and just looking at the growing collection encouraged me greatly.
It has been four months now and I have had many hours to contemplate the reasons for such an event in my life. There has been no real answer to the big “WHY” that initially confronted me. But there have been many lessons to learn. I have learned to be patient with my body as it causes me pain and limits my ability to make it do what I think it should. I have learned in a new way the value of relationships. The love and fellowship of family and friends has become much more precious to me these days, while the material aspects of my life seem much less significant. Most importantly, I have been reminded anew of the value of my relationship with God. I am acutely aware that it was God’s sovereign desire that I opened my eyes from unconsciousness in my orange “tent” on Hwy 401. I could as easily have been face to face with my Creator in that first instant of consciousness. Paul’s words in Philippians chapter one, “better by far,” referring to being with Christ, come to mind on occasion when I think about this. But that did not happen, and that same chapter tells me exactly what that should mean for me now when Paul says, “If I am to go on living in the body, that will mean fruitful labour for me.” What a challenge! I thank God for the assurance that He has given me in Christ, that had it been my time, I would without a doubt be in His presence today! My accident made me face that issue and this assurance has been God’s incredibly special gift to me through it all. I realize that death is not as frightening for me as it might be, in fact as I write this, I have no fear of it. And the life that He has preserved for me now, has a clearer, perhaps a fresher sense of purpose than it did before.