I Wasn’t Mad at Him for Wrecking the Motorcycle
I sat on the porch, waiting impatiently for Curtis to zip into the driveway on his motorcycle. He was late. Suddenly, my ringing phone abruptly broke the silence.
“You’re going to have to come pick me up from the hospital.”
Dread gripped my heart. Was my husband going to die?
Curtis bought the motorcycle a few weeks earlier and had spent all his free time driving out of the city and riding it. We were storing it at a friend’s house in Indiana until he was experienced enough to bring it home to downtown Chicago.
That morning, a bright June Saturday, he’d convinced me that he should take a ride. I reluctantly agreed. I didn’t really want him to, but I didn’t have a good reason to say no.
I also didn’t argue when he wanted to wear shorts and a t-shirt for the hour-long drive from Chicago to Indiana, where he was storing the bike at a friend’s house.
“But make sure you change when we get there,” I said. “I don’t want you riding your bike in shorts and a T-shirt. It’s not safe.”
When we got to our friend’s house, I talked to them while Curtis started his bike — and a few minutes later, pulled out of the driveway still wearing shorts and T-shirt. I sighed.
After talking to our friends for a while, I went shopping. I bought a blue skirt and two shirts from Goodwill, then walked around the small downtown area and got a mango pineapple smoothie from McDonald’s. After a few hours, I headed back to the house to wait for Curtis.
Sitting in a rocking chair on the peaceful front porch, I listened to the birds and watched bees buzzing in the garden. And that’s when my phone rang.
It was Curtis. He told me a man who’d watched his crash, coincidentally also a doctor, was bringing him to a hospital in “the middle of nowhere” Indiana, where I needed to pick him up. In his efforts to reassure me, Curtis told me he was okay. I wasn’t reassured.
Arriving at the hospital, I walked toward the emergency room, surprised to realize that my hands and legs were shaking. Once I made it inside, the front desk lady waved me toward the emergency room. I passed through the swinging double doors, and a nurse met me. I told him I was there to see Curtis Rider.
“You mean Curtis Walker?” He repeated himself, catching the confusion in my blank stare. “You know, Walker instead of Rider, since he won’t be riding anymore?”
He smirked at his own joke and pointed to a blue curtain, adding, “He’s in there.” Afraid of what I’d see, I slipped past the curtain.
Curtis was on blood-stained sheets, with his arms and legs at an awkward angle so they wouldn’t touch anything. They were covered in road rash, bleeding, and oozing pus. I winced. His helmet, forgotten in the corner of the room, had deep gouges across the face shield and pebbles stuck deep into the forehead. I cringed at the thought of what might have happened if he wasn’t wearing it.
Then I took a deep breath and spoke.
“Hi, honey. I love you. What happened?”
Gritting his teeth and taking deep breaths in between sentences, he told the story. Hurrying back to meet me at the house, he came out of a clump of trees on the highway a little too fast. A gust of wind blew him off the road, where he bounced around with the bike. No collisions, no other cars, just a trip into the ditch. And, according to the ER doctor, road rash and a sore shoulder were his only wounds.
After giving us a minute together, the nurses came in to bandage his raw legs and arms. I watched, numb but full of gratitude. Many motorcycle crashes end much worse than this one did. Finally, Curtis broke the silence.
“I love you. I’m sorry. Are you mad at me?”
I thought back to the rest of the day. I didn’t want him to go riding, he wore shorts and a T-shirt when I’d asked him to change, and he wrecked a bike that we’d just paid several thousand dollars for. The question invited a long-winded lecture — but I didn’t have it in me. Suddenly, all those details didn’t matter, because all I could think about was how much I loved him and how relieved I was that he wasn’t hurt badly, or worse, dead.
“No. I’m just glad you’re okay. I love you too.”