You hear about it in movies or books: that pivotal moment where suddenly your entire life changes. It seems like an exaggeration. Like you’re going to lock eyes with some one and realize they’re what your life has been missing. Or you’re going to meet some one on a train who changes your entire career path, Jagger-Richards style. But what they fail to highlight in these romanticized Hollywood moments of epiphany—which are real, by the way—is that the strongest ones, the ones that make the most impact, are the unexpected ones that change your entire life in a single fatal blow.
On Tuesday July 8, 2014 my brother, Jordan Houle, was in a near-fatal car accident. A cop car showed up in my driveway as I was about to start a workout. I opened the door, nervous and somewhat annoyed at the interruption. The officer asked to speak to my mom, who wasn’t home, so I called her on her cell phone. He paced back and forth as he spoke to her and I heard him say, “Do any of his friends drive his car? We don’t know if it’s him.” and I realized they were talking about Jordan. I waited impatiently for the officer to get off the phone, trying not to let my mind travel to its darkest assumptions. Finally he asked me if I was the sister. He told me someone driving my brother’s car had gotten into an accident and that they couldn’t be sure if it was him. I knew instantly that it was, because Jordan, who is always misplacing his wallet, had forgotten his ID on the table when he left for work that morning. I ran inside to change out of my workout clothes. I brushed my teeth and changed my shirt twice and thought, why am I changing my shirt? Why does it matter? My brother is in the hospital. I couldn’t think.
I was out of breath as I ran there, my stamina drained away by panic. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t him, that it wasn’t as bad as I was letting myself believe. I tried to remember what the last thing I said to him was and I couldn’t. I felt guilty for not remembering. I arrived at the hospital and could barely hold it together as I asked the janitor where my brother might be after getting into a car accident. He pointed in the direction and as I neared I heard my mother’s cries. I knew instantly that it was as bad as I initially thought. I don’t remember very much else, but suddenly I was beside Jordan’s hospital bed looking down at his unresponsive face, his unmoving body, and in that moment my entire life so far changed.
It’s been less than a week and already I don’t feel like the same person I was only a few days ago. I feel like a fractured, greyed version of my former self; if not distracted then crying or catatonic. In an instant my entire life has been altered. My shallow perception has been molested by grief. I no longer care about my career progression; I don’t care about working out or looking good. I don’t care about my social life or money or living in Australia. I am just thankful that he is still alive.
Jordan was flown by helicopter to intensive care in Hamilton. He is still on life support in an induced coma after going through a bifrontal bone flap removal of his skull, which saved his life. Some days are more optimistic than others, and it is a fresh debilitating pain each time I see him unconscious in his hospital bed, but every day his friends and family are here. I know now more than ever that nothing else matters, not a single person or thing. Nothing is more important to me than being here for him. Nothing is more important to me now than getting my big brother back.