wed. the 20 - dictated by noach
i was impressed with jo's choice of a name for the blog. i don't know if jo knows about my relationship with the book zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. i'll share it now. in 1977, i was 17. in an effort to resolve the endless questions on the mind of a rebellious 17 year old, i purchased the book. i studied its pages carefully. i carried the book around with me and it fit snugly beneath the seat of my orange, early 70's honda CD 175. my disappointment with the lack of information, relating to motorcycle maintenance in the book, was second only to my inability to understand what i believed to be the book's hidden, secret messages about life. eventually i set the book aside. i have read the book 2 or three more times since i was 17. most recently, in 1996, when my office-mate at the public defender's office had it sitting on his bookcase beneath his flourescent jimmi hendrix poster. i was impressed with his choice of reading material and convinced that he could guide me to finally understanding the book. we spoke about it often. he admitted his inability to understand it as well. and again i set it aside. i believed that there must be zen in the art of motorcycle maintenance but realized i couldn't learn it from a book. i found satisfaction in that realization after setting the book aside for the 3rd time in 20 years. on august 11, 2006, i was riding my ducati 620 monster into work. i loved that bike. my schedule for the day was to arrive at my office, say my morning prayers, catch up on some office work, change into a suit and go to the southern district court to be sworn in. i was about to be retained on my first death penalty case which was pending in that court. at about 7 that morning, i had an accident. the witness describes it as follows, "i heard a screech and a boom and knew something bad had happened. i saw a motorcycle go by with nobody on it. after that, a man just fell out of the sky." that man was me. i saw my leg fly by as i was falling ot of the sky. i recognized my jeans and my boot and didn't understand why my leg wasn't attached to my body. i remember being scared that i would land on the highway, get run ovrer and immediately killed. i was grateful when i survived the first few seconds on the highway where i saw many cars swerve dangerously close to me. i sat up and looked down to where my left leg should have been and saw the very frightening remnants of shattered bone, muscle and skin that was left above where my knee had been. blood was quickly draining out and i realized that there was a high probability that i was going to die in the next few minutes. i took my belt off from around my waist and tried to get a tourniquet around my upper thigh. i was having difficulty. my left hand was useless. i was growing weak and starting to have some strange visions. miraculously a man came running up, yelling for me to lie down and be still. i didn't listen. i remained seated, handed him the belt and asked him to please tie it tightly around what remained of my thigh. he told me there was not enough there to get a tourniquet around. that scared me. i thought a tourniquet was my only chance for survival. he reached into my groin and knew exactly where to apply pressue and i could tell by his touch that he knew exactly what he was doing. i asked him if he was able to stop the bleeding and he said he was able to slow it down a lot. by now a crowd had gathered. his girlfriend was standing above me crying. with my right hand, i took my cell phone from my inner jacket pocket and handed it to her. my vision was fading and i couldn't see the names as i was scrolling down and trying to find jo. i asked her to scroll down to jo for me and she did. my only thoughts of this time were of jo and all my children. the thought of dying was really not scary. the unknown that awaited me did not plague my mind. my only thought was that i can't believe, i can't accept, it just can't be that i never see jo, ariel, tal and binyamin again. that thought echoed in my mind. i couldn't come to grips with it, i couldn't accept it. i finally got through to jo and in the calmest voice i could muster, told her i had a bad accident, that i love her and the kids, that i'm sorry for any wrong i may have done and to raise the kids right. i was growing very tired now and gave the phone back to his girlfriend. i started seeing strange things and thougt this was it, i was going. i started saying the Shema, a Jewish prayer one is obligated to say twice a day, that is also said in moments of distress. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is G-d, the Lord is One." i was repeating it over and over in Hebrew. i thought myself fortunate that my death was not instantaneous and i had the opportunity to say the Shema at that moment. by now, the police and fire department had arrived. i looked up from the ground and saw their long, square faces, in black and white like something out of a norman rockwell painting. they were nodding their heads "no" and i could tell by their gestures to eachother that they didn't think i had a shot. one of them retrieved my leg, put it in a bag of ice and brought it close. people were yelling at me to "stay with them," not to slip away. promising me the ambulance was getting close and i would be all right. i saw a few people crying. i started talking about my family. i think the words came out slurred and in fragmented sentences. the ambulance arrived and as we raced to the hospital, i heard one of the EMT's tell the driver that my blood pressure was 30 and my pulse was faint. i didn't understand how i was still conscious. i know that when somebody's blood pressure is 30, the nurses run to get the family to say goodbye. i struggled to stay conscious during the ride and tried, with difficulty, to talk about my family with the EMT's. before i was halfway out of the ambulance, it seemed as though i had 10 tubes stuck inside of me. bags of blood now hung over me and i was grateful for that. it was obvious the trauma doctors were in a race to save my life. i was asked questions about allergies and the like and told i was being brought into emergency surgery. i asked if they could wait 10-15 minutes until jo got there but they said no. the next day i awoke and was so grateful to be alive. i had a new outlook on life. the blog well describes the ordeals of my recovery. it is now nearly 6 weeks since the accident. i can't believe i am home. my wife and all 3 children surround me and care for me. my return to life and recovery is possible only because of G-d's graciousness and them. the questions about life that i sought to unveil in a pink paperback book in 1977 have finally been answered.