Kaitlin is back

I have had a rough few days. My 16 year old neice, Kaitlin, was in a terrible car accident last Wednesday. She lives in Ames, Iowa. She was in the passenger seat of a car of girls driving from a cross country meet to a spaghetti dinner with the team. She is my brother Lyle’s daughter, who lives in North Carolina. Distance has made this particularly difficult.

Lyle got to Iowa as soon as he could, but didn’t arrive until Thursday afternoon. Heart surgery for a torn aorta. Collapsed lung. Fractured skull. Fractured collar bone. Fractured ribs. Fractured pelvis. Brain hemorrhage after the heart surgery. Damaged liver. Worry about brain damage. Little signs like moving fingers and toes, and speaking are taken as positive signs. She doesn’t recognize Lyle.
Lion’s Head seems so far away. You want to be there, but you know it won’t help. You follow the emails. You call family members to see if they have heard anything. You look at the web site that has been set up. You talk to close friends. You shed some tears. And you worry.

And images of Kaitlin keep emerging. There is the shy 5 year old girl sitting on a couch beside Uncle Jim at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Guelph. Jim was sporting a full beard, and Kaitlin hardly knew him, because she was young, and didn’t see him often. She would turn her head to look at him. If he looked at her, she turned away. As if not looking was all that was needed. But she didn’t leave the couch.

She is jumping off the rock shelf across the road with her brothers, Arlo and Zafer, into cold Georgian bay. She always had the best scream. The neighbours said they could tell the water temperature by the loudness of the screams. The screamometer.

She is sitting on my lap in Rockwood playing cards. She never took to cards, but she loved to be part of the action, and the family time. She would sit there for hours.

She is explaining to Uncle Glen how a tour of a chicken farm made her into a vegetarian because of the cruelty. Unbelievable principles at age 13 or 14. Even an uncle can’t tease someone about that.
I just had a phone call from Lyle. In his words, “Kaitlin is back.” Lyle and his wife Tami had just gone to bed, when Dan, Kaitlin’s sister Jess’s boyfriend called. “You have to see this”. Kaitlin was asking about the boys (her brothers). She asked who was driving the car, and was she OK. She asked if Mom and Dad were having a fight. She was Kaitlin. Beautiful Kaitlin.

I will sleep well tonight. Somehow, the August Production Update has seemed a bit irrelevant for the past few days.

Progress on Kaitlin is posted at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kaitlinestill. Lyle wrote a few blog entries on Kaitlin as well at http://energy.biofuels.coop/

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