Well, technically my fiance Daniel didn't "lose" anything — both severed finger tips are in the back of our refrigerator, swimming around in a plastic container marked DENTURES that one of the ER nurses was nice enough to scrounge up for us when Dan asked if he could take his mangled bits of flesh home. I could go into the whole story, but suffice to say that it was a boating accident and that you should never offer to help untie anything. Ever.
The index and middle finger of his right hand (of course he's right-handed) will be permanently shorter since there's a whopping 95% failure rate reattaching anything severed above the top knuckle, and Daniel tells the ER doctor, "At least I'll have two less fingernails to clip, right? Less maintenance."
On our way to the emergency room, Daniel yelled from the back of the ambulance up to me in the front seat, "Hey, aren't you glad we did the engagement pictures on Wednesday?"
The injury could have been so much worse. If Daniel hadn't acted as quickly as he did (thank you, Army medical training!), he could have lost a lot more than just the tips of his fingers. We have a lot to be grateful for, but his hand will look different for the rest of his life, and because Daniel started his new job only a few months ago, he hadn't yet enrolled for medical benefits.
We were splattered with blood, clinging to the seat of our friend's speedboat as we raced across the lake toward the sound of sirens and horns, and one of the first things Dan said to me was that his insurance coverage didn't start until Monday. Freak accidents have a way of rearranging your priorities, and I assured him that we would figure it out, we would find a way to cover the cost of everything, fuck money.
When we had to pay cash upfront for the surgery to close his wounds, I was suddenly thrilled we'd decided to take out a small loan to cover our upcoming wedding (very small for the wedding industry; it's an enormous amount of money for us). It saved us from having to pay with credit cards, and (because we're still early in the planning/paying for things stage of the wedding) there would be plenty left to cover additional appointments and anything else he needed. I immediately stopped thinking of that account as the Wedding Money and started thinking about how many weeks (months) it would be until Daniel could use his fingers again.
The wedding didn't cease to exist, but it became something I would have to worry about reconsidering later; and that was genuinely fine with me. Freak accidents. Priorities. Severed fingers. We had each other and we were both alive.
But then the people we love donated so much they repaid the cost of the surgery, and suddenly the funds were all back in place. I can't believe how many of our friends have contributed to the medical expenses — they've actually covered the cost of Dan's surgery, which we initially had to take out of our wedding fund. It took me a couple of days to realize they'd given us back our wedding.
I spent one sleepless night trying to decide how I felt about still having the wedding, knowing that those payments are going to be a part of our lives for a long time. It felt frivolous spending so much money on a party before all of this; wasn't it even more frivolous now? And the Uptight Judgey Voice of Doom in my head still says "yes."
But now it feels important, necessary even, in a way that it never really did. Now more than ever, I want to celebrate my relationship with our friends and family. Daniel is the most incredible person I have ever known, and I can't wait to call him my husband. In one big wave, I stopped thinking about our wedding as a party and started thinking of it as the beginning of our marriage.There's a lot of re-learning and re-conditioning and re-adjusting in his future, but Daniel's level-headed, positive attitude and incredible sense of humor continue to shine. Dozens of friends and co-workers have gone out of their way to tell us what an incredible example Daniel is, how inspiring his outlook has been for them.
Soon Daniel and I are going to his post-op appointment to see the… nubs? stumps?… for the first time, and learn what kind of realistic timeline we should expect for his recovery. I'm sure he'll crack jokes with the doctor and smile the whole time, and I'll be smiling with him.
I've never been happier in my life, and I can't wait to share that happiness with our friends and family at our wedding.