Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Ashley Callie is a human being - so are you [Updated]
During the week that Ashley Callie was in a coma, I felt a sense of pressure, and a sense of her struggle. As each day passed and she remained in a coma, while we busied ourselves with our various concerns, I could not help but feel a strong sense of perspective...on what life is really about. And every time I saw impatient drivers overtake on Glenhove road, I'd wince. When will people get it? Your chance of getting seriously injured - in your life - is by far the highest when you get into your car. It's not a game. The steering wheel is the wheel of your own life, and you hold it in your hands.
What I remember was some spokesman speaking on behalf of the actress and being confident that she would pull through because she is 'a fighter'. It might sound like I am saying this in retrospect, but in fact, right then (he was speaking immediately after the accident), I remember thinking: "Where's the gravitas? She has serious head injuries, is in critical condition and this guy is sounding upbeat..." I believe it is appropriate for us to be modest sometimes, and humble, and try to face reality for what it is. Even if we have a positive attitude, we are not necessarily in control are we? Because it is possible to die. It is possible to die.
Did it matter that she must inevitably cease, completely. All this must go on without her. Did she resent it? Or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely? It is possible to die. It is possible to die. - Virginia Woolf in The Hours
Angelica Bell: What happens when we die?
Virginia Woolf: What happens? [pause]
Virginia Woolf: We return to the place that we came from.
Angelica Bell: I don't remember where I came from.
Virginia Woolf: Nor do I.
I saw Ashley Callie once at a mall last year in Bloemfontein. I was trying to take pictures of another soap star (Dezi, in 7de Laan). I noticed this long haired brunette and wondered who she was. I don't watch soapies, so I didn't know who she was. She gave me a few quizzical glances since I was coming in from the side taking photos (while everyone else was queuing for autographs).
It occurred to me when she was in hospital asleep/unconscious that her life actually ended for her at the moment of impact. Her body then fought for survival and lost that fight for survival because of the terrible damage sustained during the collision. This Sunday I saw pictures of the two car wrecks involved. The Renault is on its roof, and it is hard to imagine anyone survived in that crumbled mangle of red metal. Her small Smart is in a much better state, but she was hit on the driver's side and from the front.
[It now turns out that last sentence is incorrect in that it suggests another car collided with hers, when in fact it's been widely reported today - 20/02/2008 - that Callie was driving on the wrong side of the road and in fact caused the accident. The Renault served to the right to avoid her, ended up on its roof on the pavement some distance away (The Star has a graphic that shows exactly what happened). The Smart, travelling North, was pushed a similar distance backwards (South) after the collision, indicating the Renault was probably driving faster than the Smart, or it was simply a case that it was much heavier (it was filled with passengers). The momentum obviously worked against the Smart, since it went instantaneously from a forward motion to a backward motion: this sort of accident featuring sudden change in direction would have caused massive stress to the driver, particularly to the head, neck and spinal column.
I must say I thought it was likely to have been the Renault - filled with youngsters and probably the guy showing off, but this wasn't the case at all. Also, Callie had no medical aid, and hence had to be treated at a general hospital. All a pretty grim unfolding of events. One minute you're at a party, the next, you're fighting a losing battle to stay alive...]
My point is that we get mixed up with our hopes and wishes and wants, and it becomes a sort of 'expectancy'. Then we are shocked when we face the limits to life. There are limits, and once we can accept them, we can move on to enjoying and appreciating everything else.
To view a moving slideshow on Ashley Callie, go here.
To read the excellent coverage in The Star, go here: Callie's fatal blunder