In just a few days, it will be World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Violence and this year what better way to uplift our family stories than through poetry? Today we share the work of SoCal Families for Safe Streets* member and poet, Michele McLaren. Traffic violence is often seen through two tragedies: one for the victim and the other for their family and friends. Michele brings both to you today:
There are days that are harder,
My scars tell the story,
I have gone past expectation,
But it has made me remember,
Everyday I continue,
My name is Michele McLaren. On the morning of February 11, 2013, while crossing over 6th Avenue in New York City on my way to work, I was struck by a Lincoln town car belonging to a taxi and limousine service. I had the right of way, was hit and flipped over the car and left on the corner of 21st street. I lost consciousness for a spell of time.
I was awoken by a voice of a woman to my right telling me that she had just called 911 and that help was on the way. I never got to see her face to thank her.
The ambulance came and I was given a neck brace while I was gently lifted on a gurney.
I don’t remember much but bits and pieces.
I remember being in the most excruciating pain and not able to move any part of my body on the left side.
I remember it being so cold outside.
I remember worrying that my boss would be upset with me because I was the one who needed to open up the store, and she lived in Staten Island and wouldn’t be in Manhattan in time to open. The EMT took my phone and called and left a message for my boss.
All I could worry about was that I would lose my job.
I was taken to the ER at Bellevue Hospital. At that point I was wheeled in and 2 nurses came to attend to me. They asked me a few questions that to this day I don’t remember.
I was shortly thereafter told that I would need to have staples placed on the top of the left side of my head to stop the bleeding. I didn’t understand.
I asked “What bleeding?” And before either one of them could answer, I lifted my hand to my head and pulled it down in front of my face. I screamed. At that moment it all became real. I cried hysterically. That was the beginning of my new normal.
I came across Family for Safe Streets in New York through a television program a few months after my crash. I was partially mobile but couldn’t go long distances without the aid of a cane. I started going to meetings on the regular and felt both a sense of healing as well as a sense of purpose being with them.
Since then I have undergone extensive physical therapy. The crash left me with a fractured pelvis, a herniated disc in my neck, mid back, and lower back. I also experience frequent migraines from the point of where my stitches were. My left side and lower back are in daily pain.
IN YOUR MEMORY
You were taken much too quickly,
In your memory I will continue,
* Southern California Families for Safe Streets is a project of Los Angeles Walks and is a collective of victims and family members of victims of traffic violence. Want to get involved? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.