In his defense, I think when I got a dirt bike that I was so comfortable on that I was actually catching him in the woods, he began to panic. He was absolutely terrified I would beat myself up as badly as he had on dirt bikes, although I don’t know how you rival the man who cut himself out of a body cast, snuck past my sleeping mother and duct taped his hand to his bike so he could race. I assume it was visions of me crashing my dirt bike and looking down to see my knee bent the wrong way (as he once had…hence his knee replacement) that prompted him to do the thing I would find almost unforgivable: sell the motorcycle I had bonded with better than any other. Once I had found the machine with which I could dance through the trees, gleefully speeding along and easily catching up to my dad and brother, I thought I’d found heaven on earth, and Dad had seen his nightmare coming true.
So, under the guise of getting my chain replaced he had sent my bike off…never to be seen again. I hadn’t thought much of it at the time. The last time we’d ridden, I’d crashed my bike way down the road, away from the camp. When I couldn’t kick start it, I looked down to see the chain lying on the ground. Well, I wasn’t making that hike back in those heavy-ass boots! I laid the bike on its side, got the chain on there and kicked that sucker back in place. It was because of this that I thought nothing of it when Dad said he was having it taken away to have the chain replaced. I had stormed into the shop that day ranting because I had passed a truck going down the road with my bike in the back. I’d had a feeling he would try to do that (he wanted me to race cars, not dirt bikes…yeah, because that’s just so much safer!), but the chain explanation made sense, so I had calmed down.
I’ve spent the past fourteen years since I learned he really had sold it pretty much pissed off. I did eventually forgive him, but since I got hurt I haven’t been able to watch dirt bike racing with getting teary-eyed and really depressed. The possession that hurt us all the most to lose, however, was the house. Mom had poured her heart into it, creating her dream house with her interior designer sister. And I got to design my dream room, with everything I had ever wanted in it. Well, the walk-in closet didn’t rotate like Cher’s in Clueless, and I didn’t have a computer to pick out matching outfits, but I did get the chaise lounge and window seat I had always wanted, and the fireplace…so I wasn’t complaining.
We were in the process of packing up the house and moving everything into storage when my parents got the call that I was being taken to the hospital via Life Flight. You can see why my life and mind were in such an uncertain phase right before I got hurt and after. I was going through the same identity crisis everyone goes through about that age – I had so many different sides to my personality, so many vastly different dreams. I didn’t know who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. Then Fate stepped in and chose for me.
I had never fully turned my back on God. I always knew He was there. In fact, before I got hurt I was trying to learn and have a better relationship with Him. There are people who passed through my life at the time who I would rather never have met, but if there was one positive it was that one of them helped to bolster my faith, and got me talking to God more. I started talking to Him while I would drive around Houston and between Houston and New Orleans. Sometimes I’d pray, sometimes I’d just talk to Him. Maybe letting Him back into my life at that time helped to save my life, along with the countless prayers of so many others.
Since I got hurt, I have felt God’s presence in my life so strongly that I never have to doubt that He’s there. It’s a feeling I have wished many times to be able to transfer to others, to help them believe. I hate to think that everyone has to go through something as drastic as surviving two hemorrhaged brain aneurysms to feel God’s loving hand.
Since (re)meeting my husband, I’ve realized how many times God’s hand was there directing me at different points in my life, leading me along a path that, after many twists, turns, and bad decisions, would lead me back to a man who had been there at the start.
I was still trying to figure out just who I wanted to be in this strange new life of mine when I got a message on Facebook from someone claiming to have been a childhood friend of my brother’s. It was at a time when I had gotten a couple messages from some creepy people, so my first reaction was “Yeah, sure you were, buddy.”
Then I realized he had mentioned going to my family’s farm when he was a kid. They had sold that before I was born. If he knew about that maybe he really had known my family. So I called my mom and read her the message. After I was done I said “Guess who sent it.” When she replied “Lacy MacFarland,” a lightbulb went off in my head. I hadn’t put his last name together until then. “No, Scott MacFarland! That’s my Other Mother’s son!” I exclaimed.
By Other Mother I meant Jane. She was my mom’s best friend when I was a baby, and was there at the hospital the day I was born. She was so excited to have a new baby to play with. Along with her at the hospital that day were her two kids, Scott and Lacy. Scott and my brother were best friends at the time, and his presence was probably needed to keep my brother from killing this stupid new baby who was going to ruin everything. When you’ve been an only child and the center of your parents’ world for nine years, a new baby takes some getting used to. He called me The Alien for a few weeks. But that day Scott kept trying to tell him to quit being so jealous of a baby sister: “Mike, you’re nine, you’re too old to be acting like this…grow up!”
Eventually Mike warmed up to me when he figured out babies did cool things like burp and fart. That’s the surefire way to my brother’s heart: fart jokes. Fortunately for him (and my exhausted then-40-year-old mother) he got plenty of breaks, as Jane would pick me up just about every day and watch me at her house. She loved having a baby around again, and when her kids were home from school they would play with me. Mom remembers coming to pick me up one day and finding me napping on Scott’s chest. He was on the sofa and Jane had laid a diaper on him for me to sleep on. “How sweet,” Mom thought, “a ten-year-old who likes babies.” Little did we know…
To this day Scott still acts a little hurt that I remembered his sister but not him. But like I told him, it had to happen that way. I had always remembered my Other Mother’s daughter Lacy playing with me, but I didn’t remember that she had a son. I think this is for the same reason that our families drifted apart without ever having an argument or falling out: we couldn’t grow up together. All of my brother’s best friends who I grew up around became other big brothers to me – they were Untouchables. Buza, Brandon, the late Elton, Lucas, and Corey – they had all been around since I was little, and the thought of them as anything but big brothers was just perverse to me. Having been there since the day I was born, Scott would have definitely been just another big brother had he stuck around when I was a kid…no matter how cute he is.
God could see it all playing out, though, in a way we never could, so we all slowly drifted apart as Mom found her needlepointing group and Jane was born again and got into Bible Study. My mom speaks in too many four-letter words to take to Bible Study…plus, I think she had her fill of it when she was a kid.
So, over twenty years passed until Scott sent me that Facebook message. When he sent it I was dating someone…I actually read the message sitting in a studio while his band practiced. Because I was seeing someone, I wrote Scott back telling him how amazed my mom and brother had been that he’d found me, but I didn’t really speak to him for a few months. Once the other guy and I had broken up, Scott and I started messaging, and then emailing, each other pages and pages of letters. It was incredible all the things we had in common, and we were constantly cracking each other up. It didn’t take long to start thinking there could be something special there, especially once Mom and I had reunited with Jane for lunch. She really wanted Scott and me to get together, to see if we hit it off. Then she would have found the blond she always wanted him to end up with! Scott and I had really gotten to know each other through all those long messages, and once we started talking on the phone we talked for hours. Mom laughed that we weren’t going to have anything to talk about on our first date…but luckily that wasn’t a problem – we can always find something to talk about!
Everything went easily and perfectly, we were engaged that Christmas, less than two months after our first date…and we had a long engagement which lasted almost three years.
Over the years we talked about the twisted, rocky paths our lives had taken – so many times things could have gone differently, but they didn’t, in order to bring us together at the right time. Decisions and obstacles that had once bothered me finally made sense. For years since I’d gotten hurt I had been frustrated with myself for transferring to Tulane for my sophomore year. If I hadn’t done that, if I had just stayed the course at the University of Houston, maybe I would have graduated earlier. I had been looking for an ego boost when I applied to Tulane, wanting to prove to myself and everyone else that I could get in there…which I did. Hindsight being 20/20, I should’ve just stuck the feather in my cap when I got the acceptance letter and gone about my way…but my parents were so proud. I couldn’t let them down.
After I got hurt I really felt like a failure for not making it there and coming back home. I felt like I’d disappointed my parents and should have never gone. But when the aneurysms struck, that Tulane email address came in handy. Back then, Facebook had only opened up from being Harvard-only to include other top tier schools. You couldn’t create a Facebook page with a UH email address, and my best friend Emery wanted to make a page for me so our friends from high school could see what had happened. Being her ever-resourceful self, Emery contacted Tulane and told them what had happened to me. She then asked if they would reinstate my e-mail so she could get some messages for me. Once she had done that, she was able to create a Facebook page for me, which is still the one I use today. If she hadn’t created that Facebook page for me, I really don’t know how long it would’ve taken me to cave to the peer pressure and make one myself. That Facebook page is how Scott found me after more than two decades, and without my Tulane e-mail address, it might not have existed.
This brings us to the aneurysms. I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you how angry and upset I could get that those had ever happened to me…and if you do want to know all the emotionally and physically excruciating details, hopefully you’ll be able to read them all someday when my book gets published. Suffice it to say, I’ve thrown many a pity party before, and I think it’s just part of the grieving process for someone getting over a traumatic injury. It’s okay to be angry that your life is completely changing, and sad that it had to change at all. Cry it out. Scream it out. WHY YOU??!! WHY ME??!! Because God knows we’re tough enough to handle it, and to use it for the better.
I had long seen the aneurysms hemorrhaging as a blessing. Well…maybe the second one was a little overkill, but I saw that they were a much-needed jolt out of an increasingly dangerous lifestyle. But once Scott and I were together, I realized how necessary they were for us to not only meet, but to meet at the right time, and for me to be in the right frame of mind. Scott hates to think that something so painful and traumatic had to happen for us to wind up together, but it’s true, and I’d go through it every time to end up with him.
First of all, for Emery to feel the need to create the Facebook page in the first place I had to have the first aneurysm hemorrhage, landing me in the hospital for 134 days. If I hadn’t gotten hurt, she wouldn’t have made the page, and who knows when I would have finally made one, or when Scott would have found me. Secondly, as mature as I had always been, I still had a lot of growing up to do, especially if I was going to be marrying a man more than 10 years older than me. Nothing makes your ass grow up quick quite like two brain aneurysms kicking the crap out of you. Dealing with all that comes after, especially the emotional ramifications, helps you to do a lot of maturing. Spending my time during recovery thinking about all the mistakes I had made, and the ways in which I had mistreated people in the past, also helped prepare me for being in a healthier, more mature relationship. Thirdly, Scott suffers from debilitating migraines, which can make life miserable, and downright unbearable some days. The type of migraines he suffers from are caused by unbalanced serotonin levels, which cause vasospasms. Some of my most painful times in the hospital were when I had too much fluid on my brain, and when I was suffering from vasospasms. It was an internal, agonizing pain that made me nauseated and caused my whole body to hurt. Having gone through that horrible pain and discomfort before myself makes me more empathetic to Scott’s head troubles, where others might simply want to say “gut it up,” which I know he can’t.
In turn, Scott went through his own very-near-death experience in the summer of 2000 that could very well have prevented our coming together, but God made sure he stuck around, because He had great things in store for us. Scott’s migraines caused him to pop Excedrin like candy for many years, as those were the only medication at his disposal to deal with the massive head pain. Unfortunately, doing so created an ulcer, which nicked an artery in his duodenum, causing him to lose blood. He felt increasingly awful, but days went by until his Grandad finally took him to the doctor, after finding him white as a ghost in his apartment. It turned out blood was spewing from that artery in a perfect little fountain, as they saw in the scans. Scott was down to 30% of his blood – he was going to the hospital. His doctor gave him a triptan to combat the migraine he had – it was the new drug they had discovered. As his headache went away almost instantly, all Scott could think was that he didn’t want to die right after he finally found a “cure” for his migraines. His doctor explained that it was a miracle he was alive. Gunshot victims often die after losing 10% of their blood, as it flows out too fast and they go into shock. The fact that the bleed was so slow, and internal, saved Scott’s life. After cauterizing the artery and multiple blood transfusions they got him back to a little under 50% of his blood before he was released. It may not have been four-and-a-half months, but Scott’s one-week stay in the ICU did get him to stop dipping tobacco, which is good because I didn’t like guys who dipped. And of course my two-week coma helped me to quit my 2+ pack/day smoking habit, which is good because Scott didn’t like girls who smoked. All just part of the bigger plan.
Finally, my mother once said “I can account for everything else having to happen for y’all to end up together, but I just don’t understand your moving to Phoenix. It seems like that just didn’t need to happen.” I quickly corrected her, though – oh, yes, it HAD to happen. The relationship I was in there was with someone who had been there since the very first boyfriend…always one of my best friends, and always undermining any relationship I was in. For me to ever be able to be in a trusting, loyal, honest, mature relationship, those ties needed to be irrevocably severed, which they were when I left Phoenix. It hurt most to leave his parents…I had adored them since I was 14, and still do. They are some of the kindest, most wonderful people you could ever have the good fortune of meeting, and it broke my heart to see his mom crying with me as I left, and to hug his dad for what was probably the last time. I just pray God blesses them with a wonderful life.
Yes, Scott and I both had our fair share of bad relationships, some worse than others. I figure we had to go through all of those learning experiences to earn each other, and the wonderful marriage and partnership we have. Meeting the man who was there at the start, went on his own tumultuous, winding path, and was eventually led back to me when the time was right, showed me just how many times God’s hand was at work when I was years away from even realizing it. I found the man who makes all the dirt bikes, racecars, and unfairness of the world melt away when I am with him. I know, absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, that I met the man I was destined to be with. I don’t like the term “soul mates,” because it’s so cliché; I just don’t know how else to describe two souls that were drawn together, almost magnetically, through countless obstacles and briar patches, to finally come together, busted up from the ride but better for it.
One final thing – a point I can’t drive home enough for the people who need to hear it: I never could have appreciated any of this had I taken myself out at any of the times when it looked so tempting to leave this world seemingly filled only with pain. You have to hang in there, because someday God will show you just why you had to struggle through the painful times, and what great things He had planned for you all along.
This was a really long post, as there was a lot to cover…so kudos if you stuck with me ‘til the end…you deserve a cookie. Go find a cookie.