5th wheel observations

Pretext: I write these observations as a friend, but newcomer to the situation. I imagine most people reading the blog are in this position as they weren’t there when it all happened, or in the immediate aftermath. So I figured as I observed over this Memorial Day weekend that my perspective might be helpful to those friends that want more of an outside perspective on the incidents of April 11th. Also, I’m not a professional writer and a lot is paraphrased because well… I forgot some things. Aaaaannnd…. Begin. 

“It keeps squeaking.”

“Well if somebody hadn’t of worn heels…”

Tim tries to apply more tape to a losing situation: a squeaky crutch. Maggie pulls it away in an attempt to solve the issue. She and I both say,

“I think it’s at the bottom.”

Maggie fiddles and figures it out. Tape is inserted. Crisis averted. Christy can now be a ninja again and sneak up on her friends.

I had only arrived minutes before to Maggie and Jimmy’s marina condo and the mood seemed so casual and light hearted from what I was kind of expecting only some 6 weeks after the incident. Maybe that’s the pessimist in me but I should have realized with this group, with Christy at the forefront, there would be no negative talk.

I gave a few updates about my life since departing the Air Force, and I got filled in on her progress and who this “Tim” person was. A one upper for sure (aren’t all pilots??). But he seemed to have the same positive attitude as Christy and obviously had been there literally since before it happened. I think I approve. The most telling comment of it all was when I asked how long the recovery/prosthetic process would be.  

“A year they say… but I’m going to be done in under 6 months I’ve told them.”

After the catching up conversation, it quickly escalated to “where are we jet skiing” and “how far can we go” before the evenings crab boil festivities. I was excited as I’d never been on a jet ski, and of course Christy’s adventurous side was ready for something more excited than physical therapy or dancing at a wedding (which I’m sure with crutches and down one appendage is an adventure on its own).

As we suited up and got ready for our journey, I was slighty weary (of course, I’m the worrier/scaredy cat of this party) of Christy on a Jet Ski but the pair of pairs was not phased at all. Christy would sit with Tim in the front, and Maggie on the back holding her tight like a Nevada Human Panini. I hopped on with Jimmy.  

We jetted across the bays and channels, bouncing more than is allegedly normal (sometimes I wonder if they’re just saying that to make me feel better) and even Jimmy looked back more than an average number of times to check on the 3 seater. Every time though, they kept right up with us on the white caps, all of us in cheesy sun glasses in the bright Florida sun.

We got back to the condo and I at this point was comfortable and wanted to try driving the Jet Skis. Before I was even on and educated on its operation, Christy was puttering around the small dock. (See? One Uppers!) The others told us to just go on our own and Christy led me out to the bayous. We drove around for quite a bit and she just led out in front of me, not a fear in the world. Not sure how much independence she had had up to this point, but it seemed to me that the Jet Ski enabled her freedom once more.

Fast Forward to the Memorial Day Eve Crab Boil. Christy is surrounded by some 20 friends. Most old, a few new. In particular, the couple that was only minutes away when it all went down. I was feeling rather lethargic that night and was mostly a quiet observer.  

“All I can remember from your boat is the cooler!”

“And Tim says, can I lay her head on your knee?” *Chuckle Chuckle* “Of COURSE you can!”

“There’s a lot shipwrecks, even a plane wreck off the coast… we will definitely take you out to SCUBA when you’re able.”

So much laughter and future positive outlook for something so traumatic and recent. I was in awe of it all. Not only of that, but that such a negative incident bringing people with liked values and hearts together. It’s very funny how the universe works sometimes. Perhaps it’s not the universe though but the attitudes and spirit of the individuals in it.

Again fast forwarding… to the next day.  

“Well I’m going to go to drop Christy at the Airport.”

“Oh me too.”

“I want to come!”

“Is there room for one more??”

So then picture 6 adults (luckily most skinny) in Tim’s truck driving Christy to the Airport for her Veteran’s Airlift private flight back to San Antonio.  

“Well there’s 4 locations we are deciding between…” “It’s got to be safe…”

“What color T shirts should there be?” “We can do Bro Tanks!”

Not even in a prosthetic leg yet, Christy is planning a paddle-board fund raiser for other amputees. I can barely cut my own lawn, and she’s planning non-profit events merely weeks after the incident (one upped again!). Well at least I (and anyone reading this) can help her plan or donate money.  

We get her to the tarmac for a ride in a beautiful private jet flown by a former Air Force Doctor and his wife. They are so gracious and happy to help. They seem taken with Christy’s story (as most are) and of course take a particular interest since her job is also in a cockpit. It’s all smiles and laughter as we load her up for a trip back to the hospital where she is recuperating and PTing (she says she’s in the best shape of her life). We even snap a few photos of this movie star treatment. I guess there are some bright sides to losing a leg!

Christy’s entourage sits down outside the terminal after she hops in the jet, of course into the co-pilot seat. Seeing her beaming smile at the controls again, I can only imagine her excitement. The aircraft started to taxi away and took off for the boundless skies and endless potential.  

The weekend’s interactions made me wonder why I wasn’t so adventurous, so positive, and so full of life like Christy is. Even in the hardest of hardship, her spirit will not falter. Hopefully she will rub off on me even more so now. While I sat there trying to be more profound in the sounds of engine wash, all I could really conclude though is that she was Christy Wise, surrounded by friends and family, and she’s going to be just fine.


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