Dave Chrisos doesn’t remember the car crash that sent him to the hospital. He doesn’t remember the two weeks that he spent in the intensive care unit as everyone he loved hovered, waiting for signs that the old Dave would somehow, some way, come back.
“I remember getting a sweater from my mom in the morning,” Chrisos said this week, stepping back in time. Before the injury. And before he came back.
“It was kind of cold out and she wanted me to wear a sweater. I took the sweater, and I headed off to school.”
He never made it. Not that day.
As he neared Bangor Christian School, the junior basketball star hit a patch of black ice while trying to merge into the left lane.
The resulting collision with a Department of Motor Vehicles car crumpled his 1993 Ford Probe, and Chrisos – who was wearing a seatbelt – suffered a brain injury.
Brain injury, his father, Don, stresses. Not brain damage.
For two weeks, to basketball fans across Eastern Maine, everyone knew Dave Chrisos. As his teammates used him as inspiration, he lay in bed in critical condition. At first he was in a drug-induced coma, then progressed to a coma that wouldn’t end when doctors cut off the medication.
Finally, he woke up.
Since February – around the time the Patriots lost in their state championship game – you haven’t heard much about Chrisos. Hopefully, you still remember him. If you don’t, you’re missing out. Because Dave Chrisos remembers you.
He remembers all the prayers, and the visitors, and the cards. He remembers the ball the Southern Aroostook Warriors sent him.
And you know what? His father never remembers him ever uttering the words you or I would probably think of first: Why me?
Things haven’t been easy for Dave since then. He spent two weeks in ICU, then another week on the rehab floor. His brother, Jonathan, remembers a first stab at physical therapy vividly.
“He’s the one who beats me all the time in everything,” 20-year-old Jonathan says. “Every sport. Every card game. Everything. And we were in rehab, playing P-I-G on a little kiddy hoop, and I would have to purposely miss so he wouldn’t feel badly about himself.”
Jonathan shakes his head at the memory.
“It was bad,” he whispers.
Not any more.
His dad admits that Dave seems to be adapting pretty well to his new routine, which includes a half day of school four or five days a week, as he battles fatigue.
“He’s working his tail off. But he loves this schedule,” Don jokes. “He goes to school in the morning, gets to work out in the afternoon, or play golf.”
Dave hasn’t been cleared to really play basketball quite yet. Not the way he did. But he’s shooting … and shooting … and shooting. And he’s already looking forward to his senior year.
“I’m just working on my free throws,” he says. “Last year, I did terrible from the line. And actually this accident has kind of straightened out my free throws. I’m starting to shoot 80, 90 percent from the line. … That’s not the way to go about it, but you know? It worked.”
Last week, he strapped on a batting helmet to protect his head and shagged some fly balls with his old baseball teammates, his mom says.
And on June 17, he’ll compete in the New England golf championships. He shot a recent round of 79 at Hermon Meadow.
Yes, Dave Chrisos is back. You ought to know that. He’s not just the kid the Bangor Christian team rallied around back when he was hurt. He’s also a competitor. And the kid who thinks what happened to him happened for a reason.
“I’m glad it was me,” he says, softly. “It would have been too hard if it had been someone else. I’d rather go through it than see someone else go through it.”
John Holyoke can be reached at 990-8214, 1-800-310-8600 or by e-mail at email@example.com