When she walked through the door of our home, her eyes immediately welled up in tears, as she looked at me sprawled out on the couch. You should be dead. You should be dead. Your kids would’ve been orphans. They should’ve been planning your funeral.
I cannot believe you survived this.
Firm warm has-known-me-forever Kristi Hug.
Not letting go.
Smiles through tears.
I am so glad you are here, I am so glad you were spared. You are my dear friend.
Angels reached down, and held you, while letting you hit your head and knocking you unconscious for 35 minutes. And you lost half your ear, but even that. Look at you. That ear, you can still wear your hair down. And, No broken bones.
How. Why. It’s not possible. But. Your. Life. Was. Saved.
“In God’s infinite power, he spared you. He prevented you from dying. Maybe you’ll realize how much you are loved. You’ve always said that life is precious; you should be in a morgue. . . When you get hit by a car, you die. But, look at you, no broken bones, only bruises, and that ear.
Angels were padding that cement, holding you for that landing.
Angels. I’ve never been an angel person. I’d hear people talking about their guardian angel protecting them and I’d smile, or I’d listen to stories of how someone literally saw an angel rescue another person from a bad situation and I’d just say, “Oh, wow,” but deep down, I did not really understand. Or believe.
So, when my friend Kristi said these things to me about angels padding the sidewalk, and when others said things like my guardian angel was working overtime, it just didn’t impact that much.
The, Dead part did.
The You could 6 feet under part did.
The, Your kids could be orphans part did. The, You could be in a morgue part did.
The, Your kids could’ve been planning my funeral part did.
But angels? Never been a huge believer.
Tears, overwhelming tears.
Pain at just the thought of how so easily, in the blinking of an eye — at a cross-walk that we’ve crossed hundreds of times over the past 25 years — those things — that I could be dead could have so easily been reality for us when you consider what happened to us. I could have been gone from this earth and my kids orphans. I have the five most beautiful children in the world and the thought of them being without me crushes me. I think of my 11-year-old Augustin in magical sixth grade, his deep brown eyes, his energy and enthusiasm and love and drive, his charm, his hugs, his warmth, the way he is Mr. social and Mr. Tech-guy and all wrapped into one over-the-top tween. And my twins Wesley and Mickael Josef, age 17, identical boys, growing and changing and driving and find their areas they enjoy and dating a bit, and thinking of life beyond high school and their future callings, and I love how motivated they are and I picture them hugging their sister and engaging with their friends.
And I think of my fabulous two older children who are married– my sunshine wildflower girl Rachel in Germany, her beauty, her love for her family, her spark, her shine, her warmth, and her awesome husband; they were so far away when the accident happened, but my Rachel still communicated with my family and close friends, keeping them informed of how her mom and dad were doing; and my awesome son Ryan the engineer and his wife the nurse who took care of me and my family from the moment I was in the Emergency Room ICU to when I was home for a week; and when they went shopping for us at the local Safeway, people approached them, people that they did not even know, people who said they had heard about the accident and that they were praying for us.
I want to be there for my kids, to experience life and moments and love and the extraordinary ordinary and holy conversations and every day joys, big and little. To share the Love of God and helping others.
Yes, we could’ve been gone, yes, we got hit by an SUV and yes, these kinds of accidents happen to other people, but this time it happened to us. And we are here and I am so grateful to God to be able to be here — I love the truth of that cliché!
And, I am here trying to write about it. I need to write about it. To tell the story.
This, my first blog post since my Last Blog Post, which was written an hour before the accident, that moment in our lives that changed everything, Friday, January 9, 2015. That post that I felt compelled to write, despite my house being a mess, despite me being a less-than-even-a-weekly-blogger, despite having so much else I should’ve been doing, despite the laundry that needed to be folded. My daughter had just returned to Germany the day before and that Friday was my catch-up day. But, since I did not have to substitute teach, I had promised myself that I would write. My house would always be there.
I needed to write and reflect on my daughter’s visit, about what a holy, beautiful, time we had while she and her husband were home for Christmas. I needed to write about my beliefs and feelings and philosophy of life; in the blog post, I reflected on the importance of making time for one another and savoring the moment and being there together as a family, spending time with one another, and spending time with extended family and close friends, as we do when my daughter is home.
My last statement in that January 9 blog post was: “May I be Mary to all people, knowing that time together, just being present, is what matters. May I treat all of my people, my family, my friends, as if they are only here a short time. Because, maybe they are.
“Maybe I am. Just as I know my daughter is.”
I titled the post, “Having a Mary mindset in a Martha World,” and I posted it on my Facebook wall on Friday, January 9, 2015 at 4:49 pm.
Fifty minutes later, while my husband and I were walking to happy hour at Linn City Pub, navigating the crosswalk at Walling Circle and Highway 43, we were struck by an SUV Yukon, and I was thrown 30 feet landing on the right side of my body; my ear was severed and I was knocked unconscious for 35 minutes, suffering a severe concussion. My husband sustained a fractured pelvis, bleeding on the brain and a slight concussion. Emergency vehicles surrounded the intersection for hours while we were rushed to OHSU in separate ambulances. West Linn Tidings Article on Accident “Walk On”
My first memory was waking up in the ER and looking up and seeing Ryan, my engineering son. He said to me, “Mom, you were in an accident.”
My last memory before that was walking past the Starbucks, 100 yards before the intersection at Walling and 43 where we were struck.
Our family and friends started visiting us at the hospital and people kept — and keep — telling us, “We cannot believe you survived. When you Google pedestrians struck, the stories that pop up are: pedestrians struck by car are dead at scene. Or pedestrians struck by vehicle die at hospital.”
It just gives me the chills, hearing those stats. Thinking back on the reality of our Friday Jan. 9, 2015 5:40 pm accident haunts me. At night, especially, when I am all alone, I ponder and weep and muse. I pray, Why did you spare us, God? How did you spare us God?
While I was in the hospital, surrounded by nurses and doctors and family and friends and church members and specialists and flowers and prayers and calls and gifts, I felt such love and care from so many people. I wept seeing my kids and my parents and my husband and my in-laws, and I just wanted to hug them all and tell them I love them, and my daughter-in-law and my friend Jenni and other friends took lots of photos and more people came and there were folks who came who I didn’t even get to see, but heard later that they had come and all of these people were like angels really to me. Then more doctors stopped by and they did Cat scans and MRI’s and x-rays and tests and all of this made me realize that this was a big deal that had happened to us, that this was huge. I was in so much shock that first day,that it all did not hit me until later. When it would be quiet, at night, when the lights were dim and my family and friends had gone home and it was just me and occasional nurses checking vitals, I would weep and pray. And I kept trying to think about the accident, what happened, how it happened, the events leading up to the accident. I prayed a lot and cried a lot.
And, I kept thinking of a certain verse in the Bible. Especially, certain ones in Psalm 91. In my college years with CRU, I used to memorize scripture as a way to help me trust the Lord, and I had verses one and two of Psalm 91 memorized, but now, not surprisingly after suffering a severe concussion, I could not recall those first two verses. I knew they were powerful though. I wanted to recall them.
There was a lot going on of course at the hospital, like getting my blood-saturated hair washed by the team of nurses and having my severed ear looked at then repaired by plastic surgeons and speaking with another team of doctors related to my concussion and getting to see so many of my family members and friends who were able to stop by and see me.
But, for some reason, I kept thinking of Psalm 91. Why would that passage not leave my head and heart?
Though I was supposed to have no screen time to rest my brain from the concussion, my doctor gave me the green light to read for 10 minutes at a time when I finally got home. I felt led again to Psalm 91. I turned there and read verses 1 and 2, to remember those past-memorized verses:
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “You are my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
The poetry of those two verses flooded back to my memory. And then, thinking about how the doctor said I could read some more, I decided to continue in that same passage in Psalm 91:
“…Under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day. A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you….”
Then, as I read toward the end of Psalm 91, verses 11 and 12, I began weeping.
“For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Angels. I sobbed. Angels lifting me up with their hands, so that you will “not strike your foot” — for “foot,” I thought “body “— for “stone,” I thought “pavement.”
Sobbing. I’m listening, God.
The next day, our family friends from church, the Hoovers, came to visit at the hospital, and they brought me journal for friends sign. In the front of the journal Shannon had written a scripture passage:
Psalm 91, verses 1-4
1Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
After a couple of days in the hospital, I was released much too early to go home while my husband was sent to the Pearl Rehab Center to heal his pelvis. While he was there, friends from church and the community and Scouts came to visit him. One of the Scouts families brought him a gift, a hand made quilt. The quilt was crafted by a non-profit organization that ministers to hurt people. On the tag of that quilt was a gift card on which was a passage of scripture. Guess where it was from? I cannot make this up: Psalm 91: 10-11.
“For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways. . .”
I ponder my friend’s words:
“You can talk all you want about how everyday is a gift but you know, just think, you could be in a morgue right now; you could’ve been 6 feet under. Oh, I’m so glad you are here. God saved you for a reason.”
Oh, friend, I am a believer now. This Angel idea, God’s Presence and signature, have been so real to me, to us, to our family during this time. I know I will never ever be the same. We will be different. We are changed, with a new normal.
And, I am making a promise, a vow. I want to journey and live the adventure of the rest of my life finding out why He saved me, and look for that purpose, that reason. I pray, Here I am. Every day. Every extraordinary ordinary day. For now, celebrating each new breath, each new moment, each new Day, which is made by God. I’ll embrace that cliche. Because it is truth. I claim it, and I am not ashamed of it.
Here I am, Lord, as Isaiah said.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. O Thou. Thou who didst call us this morning
out of sleep and death.
I come, we all of us come, down through the litter and the letters of the day.
On broken legs.
Sweet Christ, forgive and mend.
Of they finally unspeakable grace, grant to each in his own dark room valor and an unnatural virtue.”- Frederick Buechner