By Karen Hutchinson-Talaski
When Angie Kile flipped her car on her way to her college classes in Walla Walla last March, she thought her life was over.
The Hermiston woman sustained serious injury when a gust of wind pushed her car into a rock wall and flipped it, causing the car to skid along the road. The metal around the windshield stuck to her head. As the car skidded, gravel and glass imbedded into her scalp, basically scalping Kile's head and leaving a wound about the size of a billfold. Her hands were cut down to tendons and muscles because she used her hands to shield her face.
It wasn't the doctors who cleaned and stitched her up that helped her heal it was her friend of 24 years, Misty Issel, who stood by Kile through the long months.
Kile and Issel have known each other since they were 5 years old. Their friendship created a special bond between the two women. When Issel found out her friend had been injured, she was there to help.
"She couldn't look at me for about an hour," said Kile. "She just sat with me."
From then on, Issel was at Kile's home before she woke up and long after she went to bed. Issel cleaned house, fixed meals for Kile's husband and two children, picked up the kids from school, took Kile to doctor appointments and generally did everything the way Kile would have done it.
All the while, Kile was trying to understand why her friend would spend so much time with her after all, Issel had a home and a boyfriend that needed her, too.
"I would say ?You have things to do,' but she would say ?You're my priority now,' " Kile said.
Kile also had help from her sister and her grandparents, Del and Ramona Wagner. Kile's sister, Lori Stone, came every lunch hour she could to help out or just to sit and visit. The visits brought the two sisters closer together. Kile's grandparents took her to the doctor. Issel's father, Roy, and sister, Nova, also drove Kile where she needed to go.
Kile, a person who admits she is "very hard" on herself, kept going over and over again what happened that March day. For every ?solution' Kile would come up with, Issel would come up with a reason why the solution might not have worked.
Kile would get frustrated when she lost her balance or people would stare at her because of her head wound. Each day, Issel would let Kile know the healing would take time, that it was OK to cry.
"You know, that really defines the grit of a person and what makes a friend," Kile said, "because I would have sat and torn myself down both physically, emotionally literally torn myself down if it had not been for her and my sister."
Kile says the blessings outweigh the curse of the accident.
"Honestly, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't change a thing," she said. "I learned so much about my best friend. I learned so much about my kids and I got to be an example of them. My husband and I couldn't be closer, my sister and I are closer than we have ever been. My dad and I are closer than we have ever been."
And what happened to her schooling?
Kile was able to graduate with her class on schedule. Her teachers at Walla Walla Community College accommodated her throughout the final term of school. She received a degree in industrial mechanics which parlayed into a job at Union Pacific Railroad. Kile was one of the many who lost their jobs when Simplot closed two years ago.
Kile credits other people, too, for helping her heal. Dr. Steven Neal from Pendleton and Dr. Rebecca Cannon of Hermiston helped with the medical side of her healing. Issel, Kile's husband, Jeremy, and her children, along with her sister helped with the emotional side of her healing.
One lesson she learned was about what a good person she truly is.
"I got to learn how to value myself for the first time ever," she said. "I never did value myself before. Sometimes it takes a whack in the head (to help you see the truth)."
Issel, however, gets most of the credit.
"Out of everyone I know, Misty is the one person who tried her very best to crawl right into my own little hell with me," Kile said. "She did everything aside from ripping the top of her head off to understand what I was thinking and what I was feeling. When I cried, she cried. When I fell apart, she stayed firm. She was the only one who crawled in my head with me, and that was not a pleasant place to be."
"Our whole lives have been practice for this," Kile added. "God sent me my own personal angel."
Karen Hutchinson-Talaski can be reached at email@example.com.