A Broken Blessing

How a tumble and some faith saved my education, relationship, and sanity


Photo credit: Jack Charles

The urgent care was cold, unnecessarily cold. Some lab techs, a few nurses and a doctor or two all wore their own variety of sweaters as they quickly moved through the halls, ducking in and out of rooms; the bearers of bad and not-so-bad news. I could hear them through the thin walls shuffling around, asking for files and answering phones. There I sat in my 10×10 room, trying to ignore the cold because a shiver caused some pain, and I had had enough of that for the day.

My gym shorts and Spartan Race T-shirt did not provide me much insulation for the couple hours I was sitting alone. Every doctor’s office seemingly has no cell phone reception, and this one was no different. To pass the time I walked over to the cabinets and read bottles and packages. ‘HYDROGEN PEROXIDE: FOR CLEANING WOUNDS.’ ‘4×4 STERILE GAUZE PAD.’ When I reached the end of the cabinet I felt my right hand throbbing, “better take a seat and elevate for a bit.” I’m not sure how much time had passed before the doctor popped her head in to tell me she needed to make a phone call because the x-ray showed something she “just wanted to be sure about.”

As she walked away, thoughts flashed through my head: “Why did you have to take that bike?” “Why didn’t you just drive?” “How are we going to pay for the wedding if you can’t work?”

The thin walls provided little privacy for the call to the radiologist, and my heart sank from what I heard. As her footsteps grew incrementally louder I turned my hanging head to the ceiling. I stared at the tiling, the fluorescent lights, the pale circles of water stains, and said, “Faith. Faith it is.”

According to a 2018–19 survey by Pew Research Center, 65 percent of American adults identify as “Christian (including all its subcategories),” and about seven percent associate themselves with other non-Christian religions (Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, etc.). On the flip side, about 26 percent of adult Americans identify as either atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.” While the 26 percent is the highest it’s ever been, the stats still show people everywhere believe in some sort of higher power. Its no secret that I am a lifelong Christian and have been taught to live through faith. However, I will readily admit that recently my relationship with God has not been at the forefront of my life. I tell you this to emphasize the significance of my desperate, yet confident words spoken towards the ceiling in the doctor’s office. “Faith it is” was not a cry for help, but a declaration of hope. A plea for comfort and a battle cry. As I spoke those words I was calling for Fatherly embrace, but I was picking up my sword and shield as well.

It is not my goal to prove what is the right path, and I’m definitely not trying to prove anyone wrong. This is a story. A story about how faith, an abundance of love, and my fiancée, BryAnna’s favorite saying are making my life better, and how it all started with me, lying on my back and clutching my wrist on the side of a Pomona street.

A background on your storyteller in bullet points…

– I work as an EMT, hoping to transition into the Fire Service

– I go to school full time for two majors

– I’m engaged, our wedding date is approaching quickly, and this will be the last Christmas either of us will be checking “Single” on any sort of DMV paperwork

– I workout everyday (or at least try to)

– I really try to make it a point to help out whoever needs it (which means helping move, clean, fix up a house, feed the pets, whatever you can think of)

I guess what I’m trying to convey to you before we go any further, is that by any standards, I’m a busy guy. No getting around it.

One thing that I’ve become accustomed to is the hustle-and-bustle of my everyday life. Work until 3 a.m., go to school from 8 a.m.-9 p.m., work a 24-hour shift, repeat. Free time was scarce, but quality time was becoming increasingly harder to come by. This lead to arguments with my family, and unfortunately with BryAnna. Now no relationship is perfect, of course, we argued our fair share before, but little things started to change. We fell seasons behind on our favorite shows. To-do lists would get longer and longer with no resolution on any of the tasks. Time together went from days at a time to an hour or two in passing. We understood, of course, that with my job’s odd hours, going to school, and her full-time job that time together would be scarce. Still, I began to let it take over, and things became increasingly difficult for us. BryAnna has always made me a priority, and I became so caught up in getting hours and making money that I would readily pick up overtime in exchange for a weekend with her. I was sacrificing everything I could to provide for our future. I believed that picking up overtime and making the extra money was good for us. However, this left me constantly tired, constantly irritable and physically and emotionally unavailable. This also resulted in the wedding planning being almost entirely on her shoulders.

Like I mentioned earlier, I am also a full-time student, and between work and everything else, my studies were slipping. My math was getting ahead of me, I couldn’t make classes because I had to work, I missed morning lectures because I slept through the alarms, and I was having rather common fits of panic.

The unforeseen happens quickly…

With every second of extra time I could scrape together, I dedicated myself to train for triathlons. This decision came late this October, after my dad and I completed a 13+ mile hike/run/obstacle course called a Spartan Race. I was, and still am, so inspired by what we had done that I decided I eventually want to complete an Ironman triathlon. In preparation, I figured that taking one of our six bikes to the gym would be a good start. Five out of the six bikes had burs in the tires and were out of commission, so the choice (if you can call it that) of which bike to use was quick. On the way home, on a slight downhill, I peddled fast so I could relax and enjoy the ride for the next mile or so. Around 20 mph, I was taking in the breeze, the smooth ride, and the beauty of the park on my right in the mid-day light.

Suddenly, I heard a pop — rather, a BOOM/snap sound, sort of like a soft firecracker. Things began to move in slow motion. I wondered what that pop was, I wondered where it had come from, what was that scraping noise, and I wondered why the hell I was starting to lean forward. At 20 mph my front tire exploded. The pop was the inner tube and the scraping was the aluminum rim grinding against the asphalt. I flipped and landed on both my outstretched arms. The woman who stopped to help me, and would shortly give me a ride home, said the bike flipped with me and she heard my guttural scream from across the street.

She helped me up, threw the bike in the bed of her early 2000s Chevy, and drove me the mile and a half home. I dragged the bike with my good arm to my porch and left it at the bottom of the four stairs leading up to my door. As I took my backpack off I noticed a tear in the front from where I skid across the street. I calmly took a seat on the living room floor, called BryAnna and cried to her. Not because of the pain, but because I knew I would not be able to work. I would have no income. I would have no contribution to the wedding or our everyday expenses. I quickly became out of breath and she steadily spoke.

“Jack. It’s going to be okay. Everything happens for a reason.”

Everything happens for a reason. She’s said this to me before. And she’s always been right (to be fair she’s right about damn near everything anyways).

From here a pretty standard set of events ensued: Mom picked me up, took me to urgent care, BryAnna and my father met us, we sat in a couple waiting rooms, then they took me back to the examination room. Here I sat for a few hours, in my gym shorts and Spartan T-shirt, trying not to shiver because it hurt, and I was pretty fed up with the pain by then.

Fear, guilt, and anger

Being in the emergency medical field I knew that even though I had fractured my wrist, I was one of the lucky ones. I’ve seen first hand a whole lot more happen to people who have been doing a whole lot less. I could have flipped into the path of a car instead of towards the gutter. I could have broken both wrists instead of just my right. I could have not been wearing a helmet or my backpack, and instead of a hole in my gym bag, some of my skin could have been left on the pavement. Still, these thoughts didn’t help, not really. I was understandably upset, but it was more than that. In the next couple of weeks, I had no motivation to get out of bed. I had no motivation to do well in school. I didn’t want to do homework. I didn’t want to wedding plan. I didn’t want to see friends or family. I didn’t want to answer questions about what happened and how it happened. Mainly, I didn’t want to consider what I was going to do about work.

Studies have shown one of the greatest sources of depression among adults is being out of work. Nowhere in this article will you see me say that I was depressed, because I don’t believe that’s what it was, nor do I want to downplay the seriousness of the disease. What I will say is that I love my job. Despite the shit (literally and figuratively…mainly literally), the crazy hours, the messed up things out there — I love it to death. Maybe I put too much of my identity in it, though. My job became me and without it, I felt incredibly lost. I became angry with myself for losing it because of my actions and I would tell myself that our entire financial situation now rests on BryAnna’s shoulders. Capable as she may be, the guilt weighed on me.

Then my reasonable side would chime in. ‘Well, it could have been worse, you know. So many people are worse off than your broken wrist. Look at it this way, you could be in the cast for a few months instead of 6–8 weeks.’ And yet, I’d begin feeling even guiltier. I was complaining for no reason, I was drowning in self-pity, and the worse I felt the guiltier I got. I was spiraling.

She kicked my ass…and I was better off for it

After all this time its fair to say that BryAnna knows me. And one thing she knows about me is sometimes I need a swift kick in the ass. This was one of those times, and she was tightening up the laces on those ass-kicking boots of hers. I swear an entire book could be written about her and how she keeps me in check. I’ll spare you all the details of our argument (if you want to call it that, it was more like her calling me on my bull), but just think of that scene in “Batman Begins” where he fights all the thugs at one time, excuses being the thugs.

I’m Rachel and she is the Bat (mainly in Batman Begins, not so much the latter half of The Dark Knight); I’m Gotham City, flawed and a pain in her ass, but she does anything for me nonetheless. She’s better than Batman, just as scary, but a genuine hero. My hero, and I get to marry her.

Together we are working on my outlook. With her support and a building faith, I’m getting back to being me every day. My academics have picked up, our relationship is great, and my sanity is pretty intact at the moment.

Even as I sit here, typing with a cast on my right wrist, I’m doing just fine.

Would I have rather not broken my wrist?


Would I like to be working currently?

But of course.

Can I wait to get back to work?

Absolutely not.

Still, if I hadn’t taken that fateful bike ride I would be working right now, not sitting here on BryAnna’s bed, finishing this piece while she naps with her head on my lap. This is what life is about and I won’t forget it again.

Everything happens for a reason.