A Defining Moment


I had just fallen off my horse, or to be more accurate, my horse had just fallen on me. In a truly freak accident, my horse, Sam, was unable to land properly from a jumping effort. His front legs caught on the jump, and the back carried on anyhow. He flipped. He flipped onto his shoulder. With me caught between his shoulder and the ground. For a mere second I was under the weight of a full grown horse. Some 2000 plus pounds. As many of you know, this weight broke my neck.

Essentially, I had been curled when the full force hit me. My face turned down, my shoulders hunched, maybe in a fetal type position. It all happened so fast, any description of my posture is just a guess. But my hypothesis is that the force fell on the nape of my neck, pressing down on the wing of my C2 vertebrae, just enough to cause a fracture. But as the doctors at Johns Hopkins later put it, “at least you broke your neck in the best and safest way possible”.

Apparently a non-displaced fracture of the C2 vertebrae isn’t much for a doctor to sweat over. Where I broke my neck is relatively far from the spinal cord. Far from a life-changing injury.

But let’s go back a few hours, past the diagnosis, past the ambulance ride, past the bad experiences at the local hospital. There I lay in the hot arena footing. I remained face to the sky, a bit dazed to say the least. The severity of my fall hadn’t hit me yet. A friend’s mom came running over, “stay down. STAY DOWN.” I guess in hindsight the whole thing had looked pretty scary to everyone watching. Though my mom must not have thought so, considering she ran to get Sam before coming to me. Let me be repetitive, my own mother had gone after a fleeing horse before her own daughter.

I don’t care that the horse ran. They do that. They’re prey animals with flight or fight instincts, whatever. But I care that my mom ran. She ran away from her hurt daughter. She ran the opposite way of a daughter who could’ve been really really hurt, maybe life-changing hurt. Maybe paralyzed. Maybe dead.

To this day I ask myself what went through her mind. Was she trying to do the smart thing? Did her analytical mind point her towards the horse, and not me? Could she really have not realized the severity of my fall? Or was my mother just cold-blooded?

I love my mom, I really do, but this incident shaped my understanding of her personality. My mother is so very smart and so very loving. However, in the heat of the moment, her unobservant and analytical mind set present as the opposite: cold. My mom isn’t compassionless but during this story she sure as hell looked like she was. All of her traits put together, during a time of crisis, present as uncaring –especially to strangers.

People always say my mom and I look exactly the same. We have warm brown eyes, and frizzy brown hair. We have matching dimples, rounds faces, voices, mannerisms. We’re both smart. We’re both driven. We’re both goofy. Yet in a small hidden corner of my mind I’ve always resented the people who say we’re alike.

However upon more and more introspection, more times where my mom seemed like she put herself first, more times when my mom presented as hard-hearted, I started to see the same things in me. We are the same. Initially, I don’t judge situations well. I say irrational things without thinking them through. I don’t realize how my actions hurt people. I probably don’t ever seem very sympathetic.

More than defining something, this moment, my mom leaving me for my horse, made me realize something. I often look just as cruel, callous, and cold as my mom. And through seeing my mother and I’s similarities, I have realized the parts of me that need to change before it’s too late to be a caring kind, person. I never try to be mean or rude, I really have kind intentions. So I guess this is my way of saying sorry to those I’ve mistakenly wronged, and I’m trying to not repeat those mistakes.

Rory, 12th Grade


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