The Meaning of Panic and Gratitude


January 2, 2015

To explain my moment of sheer panic I must first go back in time. To a time when I was naive and much younger. To a time that I hate remembering. To a time that brings me unbearable pain to think about. In 2011 I lost someone very important to me, my first love. This wasn‰Ûªt a loss as in we just broke up. This was a lost as in he was killed. It was a hit and run accident on Christmas Eve. As you can imagine that was a devastating call to receive on Christmas Day. One of my best friends called and talked to my mom. She couldn‰Ûªt even bear to talk to me because she knew the pain I was going to have. She knew that coming from her I wouldn‰Ûªt believe her.‰Û¬Ever since that accident I have had a strong fear of cars. Nobody ever judges me for this and most people are very considerate. If someone happens to not know and does something stupid while driving to cause me to start panicking, they generally get the idea and stop. Even while walking on the sidewalk or side of the road I am afraid of cars, but in this instance I am afraid of whoever I am walking with getting hit. Because of this I make them walk on the outside and I walk closer to the road. A few Sundays ago I was having my usual Sunday lunch at my grandparents‰Ûª house. After lunch a few of us were just sitting around and messing about on the Internet. I was working on a project for Global Citizen Year when I got a random call from my cousin. She was asking for the phone number of one of my friends, so I gave her the number and thought nothing else of it. A few minutes later my cousin texted me and this time she told me that one of my good friends here in Ecuador had been in a car accident and apparently he was in bad shape.‰Û¬I didn‰Ûªt know what to do, what to say, so I just asked if he was in the hospital. She responded saying yes and asking if I wanted to go so I could see him. Of course I wanted to go, so I asked my sister if she wanted to come with me, but she wasn‰Ûªt interested. When my mom heard what had happened she gave me money for the bus and told me to go quickly. On the bus it hit me. The panic, the shock. I couldn‰Ûªt breath, I was struggling to hold back the tears, I felt like I was going to throw up, and all I could keep thinking was ‰ÛÏOh god, not another person, please not someone else I care about.‰Û I was raised in a household without religion and have never specifically identified as anything, but in that moment all I could do was pray and pray that my friend was ok.‰Û¬Eventually I got to the hospital, but I wasn‰Ûªt allowed to see my friend yet, though people told me he was ok. Even though they said he was ok the panic didn‰Ûªt subside. To keep my mind off of my friend, his brother (who happens to be another one of my friends) had me go to Ibarra with him so that they could do some tests on his sister who was also in the accident. Sitting outside the emergency room in Ibarra my cousin could tell I still wasn‰Ûªt okay, so she tried asking me questions about what had happened to the person I had lost before. This only made me cry and panic more. Finally we were back at the hospital in Otavalo, but I still had to wait another hour or two before I could see my friend.‰Û¬Waiting with my other friends outside I was comforted to know and see that I wasn‰Ûªt the only person who was still worrying. It also comforted me that my friends understood what I was going through and they empathized with me. At last the time came when I could see Michael. He had cuts and bruises all over his face and had messed up his neck, but he was awake and talking. He was trying to joke and laugh, trying to be his normal self. I felt such a sense of relief and was so thankful that he was going to be ok. When I first got the news I thought I was going to have to struggle through the panic attack and all the horrible emotions I was feeling alone. I thought that without my best friends I would be completely deserted, but I soon realized I was ok. I have found the friends and family here who are willing to support me, even when I am an emotional wreck. I can‰Ûªt even begin to explain how grateful I am for them. Later I was able to talk with friends and family back home too, they have also tried to offer the best support they can from 20,000+ miles away and for that I am also thankful. Also thank you to all of my fellow Imbabombas who supported me and Lindsay, I couldn‰Ûªt manage without them.‰Û¬So thank you to all my family, friends, and anyone else who has ever supported me back in the states. Thank you to my family and the friends I have here in Ecuador. And thank you to the Global Citizen Year staff and fellows worldwide.