We were on the driving range of a new golf course that just opened in
I got Joy during the back swing, right between the eyes.
It was a big, bloody mess — as you might know if you’ve ever seen a head injury — and since it was the club’s opening weekend, they didn’t have things like a First Aid kit on hand.
We were sopping up blood with a nearby caddy's golf ball towel.
When word spread about the injury on the driving range, golf course management quickly shuffled us off the grounds because they didn’t want to offend any future country club members with Joy’s face.
(I think they also mumbled something about needing an age limit.)
Our mom then drove me, Joy, and our brother to the hospital, and since there were no cell phones back then, left our dad a sloppy note on the kitchen table of our cabin that said, “gone to hospital - Joy hit in head.”
I felt awful, and couldn’t even look at Joy during the car ride, but kept saying I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!
Joy was talking and crying and yelling at me, so our mom knew it wasn’t a concussion.
By the time we got to the hospital, the blood had dried and turned brown and gross and an 80-year-old Mississippi doctor was tasked with patching her up.
When she was wheeled into the hospital room, my mom looked at me and said,
“Because you hit Joy in the head, you have to watch her get stitched up. That’s your punishment.”
And then she put me front and center.
I nodded, feeling like there was no punishment acceptable for hurting my best friend and making her cry like that. So I watched intensely.
I was horrified each time the needle went in and out of her bloody forehead, with the black thread from the stitches dangling down by her arm.
I remember thinking that I’d never seen a light above her that bright before, and they used so much hydrogen peroxide I didn’t know what was blood and what was chemicals.
And then I passed out.
It was the first time I had ever fainted, and distinctly remember saying, “I’m just really hot. Someone turn on the air conditioner” as every pore in my body spewed sweat.
When the room didn’t get any colder, the world closed in on me.
It started going black from the outside corners of my eyes and slowly moved in, until the bright light faded and I could only see black, even though I was blinking furiously.
The next thing I knew, I was in JOY’S HOSPITAL BED and nurses were fussing over what to do with me (“SHE’S NOT EVEN WEARING A HOSPTIAL BRACELET!” one of them said.)
When I looked up, I saw Joy standing in the corner, giving me the meanest look I’d ever seen.
“Oh, so YOU get to lay in MY BED!” she said, black thread stitches still falling from her head.
She had evidently been rudely pushed out to make room for me.
“I..wuz…just…really…hot,” I said, as my mom pressed the nurses to get out the ammonium capsules or whatever you sniff when you need to come-to.
It was at that moment when our dad showed up. He saw one of his daughters with a bloody face and dangling stitches standing in the corner, frowning, and his other daughter looking quite green and clammy, lying in the hospital bed.
I don’t know if our mom even attempted to explain things.
Once my “situation” was under control, they moved Joy back to the bed and finished sewing her head. And age be dammed, that 80-year-old doctor had some steady hands, because you can only see Joy's scar if you look really, really close. With a really bright light.
But for the rest of that summer in 1997, Joy couldn’t get her face wet which meant she couldn't swim and had to take baths instead of showers, and walked around with a horrible wound that looked like a black caterpillar smack in between her eyes.
And that’s why I don’t play golf.