Remember This Above All Else

John Carney
Photo: Manhattan Transfer/Flickr
John Carney

It's easy to be a rugged individualist when things are going great. You just got your bonus. The hot girl you met when volunteering is totally into you. You found the perfect pair of jeans. Nothing can stop you.

But then something does. Maybe it's just a sudden moment of clarity that tears through the veil of success and makes you wonder for a moment about the value of anything. Why work so hard? Why keep getting up in the morning? Why bother at all when none of it really seems to matter?

Or maybe it is something more physical than metaphysical. In my case, it was a car that sped around a corner on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Fortunately, I was thrown clear of the wheels by the impact. Unfortunately, I broke my leg in nine places. Everything in my life came to a halt.

Here's what gets you through those times: other people. They remind you that the world is not really such a wretched place, that you aren't really alone, that there is beauty and nobility and truth. And the most beautiful, noble, and truest thing is the love of friends.

After I got hit by that car, I sent this email out to my friends. It was sent exactly four years ago.

Dear friends,

As many of you might already know, I am scheduled for surgery on Monday. The plan is to put humpty-dumpty back together again, and get a leg back in the place where I am now toting around a sack of pain and broken bones. I got out of the hospital a week ago yesterday, and since then I’ve mostly been confined to my recovery safehouse on Wall Street. I can get around abit on crutches but it is not easy, very painful and more than a bit dangerous. The picture attached is from my one trip across the city to see my doctor and schedule Monday’s surgery. (Meghan took the picture and dedicated most of her Wednesday to accompanying me back and forth to the doc’s. It was a five hour ordeal. Thanks, Egg-man.)

Mostly, I wanted to write to all of you to say thank you so much for your visits, gifts, goodies, cards, calls, texts, emails and good wishes. I’m hardly the type to look for silver linings in clouds. Instead, let’s think of it as the glass of good scotch hidden behind the pitchers of pabst. Or something. The point is that I am so happy I have such wonderful friends who have done so much to take such great care of me. I can’t say enough in appreciation. You’ll all receive individual words of gratitude from me in due course (send your mailing addresses!) but for now this group hug will have to do. I have the greatest gang of friends in the world. You all made this a much more endurable time for me. I think Kevin noted that I was “in good spirits” way back when I was first hospitalized. He was right, and I stayed that way largely because of the Great Souls of all of you. I can’t imagine anyone has ever had a more heroic, loyal, funny and faithful army of brothers, sisters and comrades. Thank you all.

Here’s the deal for the next couple of weeks. The surgery will involve putting a bone graft of some sort at my tibular plateau (that’s the top of my shin bone), and a couple of metal plates to hold my bones together. (Followed by years of fun at metal detectors). After surgery I will take a few days to recover and then get back to working, writing for DealBreaker and other projects. (By the way, stop by the site. Bess and Keith have done a tremendous job with it in my all-too-long absence.) I still won’t be able to put any weight on my right leg, so my mobility will be restricted. It will take several weeks and lots of physical therapy to get myself walking properly again. (I’ve been getting advice from Randy on how to do various once-ordinary and now complex tasks on one leg.)

Since I’ll still be more or less housebound, I’d love to have visitors at any time. I’m almost always here on Wall Street, so just call or text if you want to stop by. It’s really the only form of socializing I get to do these days.

Some of you probably remember that today is my birthday. Unfortunately, there won’t be a blow-out bash as in past years. First of all, the Cellar is closed. Second, I think the crutches and cold rule out the kind of Frozen Hell Avenue A Bar Crawl I organized four years ago. And the Winnie’s Karaoke Night (three and five years ago) has basically played itself out. Oh, and then there’s the whole “I’m still crippled and on pain medication” thing that rules out a huge party. There will be a bash someday soon. A birthday/recovery bash, perhaps in a couple of weeks. Hopefully featuring the DJ stylings of Dens and Kevin. I’ll keep you posted. The plan for tonight is to drop by Allis for game night. (This might get changed if it snows—no good for crutches—or if I hear her elevator isn’t working.)

Hope to see you all soon. Sorry for the inordinate length of this email. Thanks again for everything. You are a small, select group that will always be special to me. I keep thinking of that Band of Brothers speech from Shakespeare. One day long hence I will tell stories of this time and when I roll up my pant leg and show my scars I will talk about you, you mighty few, my band of friends who fought by my side through the days of injury and pain, and all who could not be here will turn away ashamed while any speak of the glory we had in January of 2007.

Wow. Pain meds making me all emotional. The Irish are immune to psychology but put us on opiates and take away our whiskey for a couple of weeks, and look what happens. I’ll end this here while my dignity still survives.

As always,

John

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