“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.” ~ C. S. Lewis A Grief Observed
I discovered the truth of those words on January 22, 2011.
I remember the day starting out hectic. I was rushing around trying to get ready for a photo shoot. My two boys were watching TV while they ate their breakfast. My husband was preparing for a Geo Cashing adventure planned for that morning with the boys, my sister and her family. Soon we were all headed out the door.
I waited for my client for half an hour before I headed home. Everyone was gone on their adventure, so I took advantage of the quite house to work on some photo editing. I was engrossed in my editing and wasn’t paying attention to the passing of time. After a while, I realized they should be home by now. The worry I was starting to feel barely had time to take hold when my phone rang.
My brother-in-law was on the other end. There’d been a car accident. My husband was in an ambulance on the way to the local hospital. My sister and her family were on their way to pick me up. I asked about the boys. He refused to answer me and said, “Just be ready”.
The next thing I can remember is opening my front door when they arrived. My nephew was crying so much I think wailing would be a better word to describe the sound he was making. I will NEVER forget that sound.
I met my brother-in-law in front of their car. I don’t remember the words he used, but I knew he was trying to tell me something my mind was refusing to hear.
During the drive to the hospital I rode in the passenger seat of my sisters car. I sat there wringing my hands. Nervous, agitated movements, designed to keep me in tact, to keep me from falling apart. We finally arrived at the hospital. I was out of the car before it had come to a complete stop. I rushed into the ER entrance and heard an announcement over the PA system. They were asking people to move their cars so life flight could land in the parking lot. “Oh good, one of the boys made it”, I thought.
I ran up to the desk and told the lady behind the counter that my husband had just been brought in. I was directed to a nurse who told me they had him sedated, that all his x-rays came back normal and they were just waiting on the tests to see if he had internal bleeding. I asked her about the boys, a strange look crossed her face, and she told me she’d see what she could find out.
I was then taken in to see my husband. I stood in the doorway of his room. It was a terrifying site. People surrounded him and there were wires and tubes everywhere. I was not allowed to stay long because they were preparing to put him on the life flight helicopter.
I was then led to an ER waiting room. After a few minutes a train of doctors, nurses and EMT’s filed in. I knew what they were going to say, but I had to hear the words. My boys had not survived the accident. They were gone.
In that split second my entire life changed.
My memories over the next several minutes and hours are in jumbled snippets. I became very robotic, numb. I went through the motions of preparing to go meet my husband at the hospital in Portland. I packed a bag in case I had to stay the night in the hospital. I robotically contacted people to deliver the news.
Time had stopped.
I don’t know how long it was before my brain was able to form thoughts. An hour? Two? All I know is the first few thoughts I had were defining moments for me. These thoughts would be my guide as I learned how to live a life without my children.
The first conscious thought I can remember having was the realization that God knew when they were born, my boys lives would be short. With that thought came a small measure of peace. In the months leading up to the accident I’d begun to question my faith. Did I believe in God because I was raised in the church, or because I believed in him? Standing in the hallway at OHSU in Portland, I had the answer to my question. Like the C.S. Lewis quote, with life and death staring me in the face, I realized how much I truly believed in God, and I would not turn my back on him.
Later like a flash of lightening another thought hit me. A fragment of a verse I’d memorized long ago, about God working everything out for good. I believed God would use this tragedy for something good . . . . someday. I’ve been clinging to that Hope ever since that moment. It is what gets me up in the morning. It’s how I am able to put one foot in front of another every single day.
The final defining moment for me was an actual decision I made. I decided I was going to be real with my pain. I didn’t want to hide behind the I’m a Christian so life is good attitude that seems to permeate in the church. I wanted to show people that pain and God could co-exist in life.
It’s been almost 4 years since my life came crashing down. I’ve learned a lot from the decision I made in that defining moment. I learned that not only can a life lived for God be full of pain, I learned that even in the most excruciating pain imaginable God is there . . . holding you while you cry.
My purpose in starting this blog is to share my story in the hopes that it will help others. I want to help individuals like myself who’ve lost so much find the hope they need. I want to help our society understand what it’s like to really grieve. And I want to help the church reach out to those in pain with understanding and compassion so that their pain can be eased.
I hope you will join me as I begin this new journey in my life.