Cousins’ crisis enlightens

There are a few moments in life that you can never prepare for. It could be for something as exciting and new as college, or it could be something as horrible as –

“Josh! Wake up! We’re going to the hospital, NOW!”

A family emergency. That is another one of the few moments in life when the first question to come to mind has nothing to do with what, where or why, but is unselfishly –


The all-encompassing question. Who was taken to the hospital? As soon as that question is answered, the flood gates would open and the questions would flow. Whether it is friends or family, someone I love is on their way to the hospital.

At first, my body just followed muscle memory. Nothing felt real at all, just a bad dream I couldn’t wake up from. I stumbled to put on my shoes and jumped in my brother’s car and waited in silence. The information flowed to my phone in short texts that would only bring more questions. What I found after a few minutes was my three of my cousins were in a car accident and one might not make it.

There is no appropriate music for a car ride of this caliber. Happy music is out of place; it just feels wrong to listen to when a family is in peril. Sad music just brings emotions; it will push people to tears at this point. So the tense silence that followed was the only appropriate condolence. There is nothing to say in that moment either. Saying, ‘Everything will be okay,’ is a lie, while reminiscing about the ‘good times’ is admitting defeat. So the only conversation to be heard was the engine roaring to keep up with a lead foot on the accelerator and the tires blazing past the concrete highway.

Once we arrived at the emergency room, we walked up to our family standing outside in the freezing wind. We were the third group to arrive and we followed our parents’ lead, not really knowing what to do or say. Familiar cars sped into the parking lot and joined the increasing number of support.

None of it seemed real until the helicopter that was in-charge of my cousin’s life landed a few feet and a chain-length fence away. As the helicopter began to land, tiny tornadoes whipped past us, blurring our vision. The silence of my worry-stricken family was replaced by the deafening roar of the life-saving transportation. I could only hear the beating of propellers and the beating of my heart in my throat. My family stood hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm and watched helplessly. We made a line of support, of caring and familiar faces for our cousin, nephew, and grandson, but what could we do?

We watched as my 11-year-old cousin was pulled out of a helicopter in a full body suit and a neck brace. A green bag was constantly being pumped in rhythm to keep his breathing strong. They wheeled him right by us, just a few feet away. Were his eyes open? Was he conscious? Was he ali-?

We were urged to leave once he arrived. After all, there was not much we could do. The waiting that followed was the worst kind: uncertainty and fear. Every text message brought worry and nothing was final.

“Punctured lung.”

“Broken pelvis.”

“Scratch that, bruised lung.”

“Fractured vertebrae.” 

But nothing was more important than –

“The doctors say he’ll be okay.” And with that message, I breathed a sigh of relief.

My cousin was not wearing his seatbelt when his older sister, who was driving, turned to scold him and force him to put it on. That’s when the accident occurred.

My cousin was ejected out of a vehicle going 70 miles an hour that rolled 10 times. The truck rolled over him, breaking his pelvis, bruising his lung, fracturing his vertebra and knocking him out cold. He even stopped breathing for a while. He was helicoptered to Northwest Emergency Room where he was treated for some time.

He is stable now and working through physical therapy.  The physical therapy will take months to help him completely recover, but everything will be okay.

I could say something cliché, like spend more time with your family and love them unconditionally, but more importantly, I think it’s imperative to make sure that, when you’re thinking of your family, you don’t wish you would have spent more time with them. You don’t regret the times you were with them and you have more good times than bad. Because when it’s all said and done, we don’t always get more time with them.