Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Time and Chance...and Gratitude

I had a healing conversation with my parents recently, one in which they let me cry abundantly until my cellphone and ear both felt permanently moistened.

It's been almost two weeks since the accident, the first five of those spent in the hospital. I thought I was a trooper while in that cozy, safe hospital bed. I knew my blessings quickly, and I had no anger (unless you count yelling at the officer who told me I actually needed to talk instead of nodding, and I replied, "I...don'!", or when I scolded the ED nurses and docs for leaving me on a backboard and in a neck brace for what felt like 20 stiff hours). Nevertheless, my rattled emotions have blindsided me since I've come home. Yesterday, I heard a neighbor's motorcycle while my kids and I were in the front yard, and it upset me badly. My children crying, especially my youngest two, has the power to discombobulate me completely.

Ella, my youngest daughter, and Danny Sam, my littlest boy, were with me when a black motorcycle, entering my left line of vision like a torpedo, blew a red light and T-boned our van where the driver's side door hinges September 28th. Suddenly I was looking through a splintered windshield and an emptiness where my driver's side window had been. My sideview mirror was gone, wires dangling like mangled limbs, and my door was bent into my intimate space. Blood warmly dripped down my arm and hand.

The horror of knowing you are where you are in that moment and that there will be consequences to that fabled time and chance that happens to us all is indescribable.

And it was nearly unbearable. I was in physical pain immediately from a collapsed, bruised lung and broken ribs, and I selfishly closed in on myself those first several minutes. But the pain of hearing my children scream and wail for me until the first responders came was more terrible and haunting. I couldn't reassure them; I could barely speak, though I tried to wave my right hand in a calming signal and eventually tried to lift my voice above the cacophony of noise to breath, "I'm okay..."

I knew by their strong voices, their undulating cries, and their confused questions that they were okay and had no idea what had just happened. They were both sitting on the same side of the van as myself, but I don't believe they glimpsed the same black hulk I did before the crash.

They were not hurt, praise God. That would have been unbearable. They were not hurt at all, except for a tiny scrape on my son's thigh that I think he got as the fireman accidentally knocked glass from the window.

There is a part in the book The Walking Flame where the main character Aram must face horrendous environmental conditions. Beings called Astra wrap their enormous wings and strange bodies around him, shield him. I really don't care how it sounds: that is the image that sprang to my mind in the hospital regarding how my kids were protected from harm. Their guardian angels enveloped them.

I suppose people could ask: Well, what about you? You were seriously hurt.

You must have faith to understand. God never left me. He never left us.

He was present in the two kind, sober-faced men who stopped to ask if I was okay, who when I shook my head, responded, "Hang in there. We're going to get someone to help you."

He was present in the firemen who finally comforted and calmed my children, who were cheerful in speaking to them, who gave me a great, extraordinary gift when they got my children to speak back to them, who told my babies their mama was going to be okay, who asked about the teddy bear and doll buckled into the seats of our van. My respect for what those men and women do in traumatic situations is multiplied tremendously. They were sooo calm, so miraculously cheerful, that it comforted me and let me wholeheartedly trust them with my children when I was unable to take care of them myself.

God was present in the policemen who kept me lucid and engaged and speaking, who bent my driver's side door all the way back, so I could be placed on the stretcher. He was present in the EMTs who tended me all the way to the hospital, who were kind despite my extreme grumpiness, who told the ambulance driver to step on it already and put on the lights.

And He was present in my husband who rushed to be with us after I weakly told him on the cellphone that we'd been in an accident - to just come. My Man dashed like Flash Gordon across a long field to get to the scene, was stopped by a female officer, and had to wait in agony for the "all clear" to come see us. He barely got to me in time to grasp my hand and say, "Baby, I'm here...I'm here," before the ambulance took me away. But because he was there so quickly, he was able to take Ella and Daniel into his arms and familiar papa care. They weren't removed from the scene by strangers from Social Services, and I am so glad.

Good things come. I understand now what Job meant when he said of God to his misguided friends, If He kills me, I still trust him.

I've now witnessed the light of God shining brightly through people. And I know what it is, the Peace of Christ, to forgive someone when they have injured you badly and could have hurt your beloved children.


  1. You just need a "like" button on this thing. (Camille)

  2. Beautiful - a testament to your faith, my girl. And another example of the wonderful clarity of your writing; but it's the content that moved me.

  3. Beautiful writing here Hillary. I feel that I experience the presence of God most through other people, the everyday saints among us, so to speak, I'm glad you were able to feel his/her presence through people as well. I also don't think that Creator wills for these things to happen. I do think he/she cares about them deeply, shares in our sorrow and is there for comfort and help. I am so thankful that you and the children are okay, although I know your physical pain will most likely heal before your emotional trauma. I love these lyrics by U2:

    What once was hurt
    What once was friction
    What left a mark
    No longer stings
    Because grace makes beauty
    Out of ugly things

    It reminds me of you and your grace :)

    Peace to you.

    1. I love those lyrics, and thank you for sharing them, Holly. I'll become a better person through this experience, the highs and lows.


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