Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anniversary Memories

I eased into wakeful awareness this morning thanking God for a new day, praising Him for His goodness, and asking Him for the grace I would need each step of the way. Then I remembered that today is the anniversary of Jon and Andrew's car accident.

I wasn't planning on posting much, if anything at all, because it has already been three years. It's part of our story, yes, but I don't want to dwell on the same things over and over again. As the morning progressed, however, I realized just how much the events of that day are etched in my memory. Maybe I should say that the events, the thoughts, sights, smells, people, fear, relief, pleading prayers, uncertainty, and unwavering knowledge that God is always good-- all those things are seared in my soul. I think it would be safe to say that my memories of that day and the days following are clearer than any other day of my existence. Sometimes I wish it were not so because there are so many more beautiful days to remember, and this was a day I nearly lost so much.

I loved Jon when I married him, and I enjoyed being with him more than anyone else. We were practically kids and we were happy. It took many years to realize just how much I was blessed to be married to Jon, and to recognize God's care over me in giving me a husband like him to navigate through life with. He provided for me a loving leader when I didn't even know how to pick one. My appreciation for Jon has grown over the years, and it has strengthened my love for him.

On the day of the accident, when over and over again I could not obtain confirmation that Jon was going to make it, I began to prepare myself for the worst. I suppose you could say that when the worst did not happen, and when I was finally told that Jon would survive, all other bad news paled in comparison. I would say that the expectation of the worse prepared me for terrible news and horrid days to follow. It allowed me to move forward with a heart of thankfulness.

Andrew's neck was broken-- the worst category of break in his C2 vertebrae and his spinal cord was in a bent position. He also had a broken clavicle and injured lung. Jon's hands and wrists were smashed and his legs were badly injured. Internal injuries were not yet ruled out.

The long and difficult days were about to begin: Andrew at the Children's Hospital and Jon at another, and my three other small children were to be without us for many days, totally unprepared. Those days led to long months, but God proved his goodness and care over us many times over.

Coming out of the OR the first time... The procedure was only half complete because the smallest vest at the hospital was too big. Sand bags were suspended from the top of his head to keep his spinal cord straight.

Here he is after the second trip to the OR. He had 8 pins drilled into his skull, and the 4 rods and vest kept his spine immobile.

Sleep deprivation was out of this world... Here we are when I thought we were past the hardest part. The next day it was discovered through x-rays and ct-scan that his vertebrae had slipped out of position and the procedure had failed. Talk began about fusing his vertebrae together, and I so badly wanted to talk to Jon about the decision. Jon, however, was too medicated and had just a fraction of cognitive ability. Once again, God graciously provided in sending another neurosurgeon who decided to try the procedure again. The bones would never be ideally aligned, and the assurance of proper healing wouldn't come for another three months.

Occupational and physical therapists helped him learn to balance himself with an altered center of gravity... I would have done anything to take his pain.

Toward the end of the first week we went for a little walk on the hospital grounds... That was a monumental event for me.

Going home! I didn't feel prepared to care for him on my own, but what a grand day it was. And so difficult. I wouldn't want to relive this day.

After more than a week, they were together again since the initial ambulance ride.

A couple weeks later we went to see the car. It's amazing that Jon made it and still has his limbs. You can see his leather boot jammed between the front of the seat and the metal wreckage in the above picture. I don't know where his legs fit in that mangled mess!

There were many more trips to the hospital, another surgery for Jon and therapy, but God's faithfulness was evident through it all.

Entering the third month with the halo... We called it his "rocket suit"

I'm so thankful today for my guys. I'm thankful for sweet friends and for my mother-in-law who came alongside us to bear some of our load. I'm thankful for answered prayer, for God's assuring presence and for strengthened faith.

Edit, Dec. 21, 2011:

A friend emailed me this quote in response to this post, and I thought I would add it..

"What if, sometimes, there are mists and fogs so thick that I cannot see the path? ‘Tis enough that You hold my hand, and guide me in the darkness; for walking with You in the gloom–is far sweeter and safer than walking alone in the sunlight!

Dear Lord, give me grace to trust You wholly, whatever may befall; yielding myself up to Your leading, and leaning hard on You when “dangers are in the path.” Your way for me has been marked out from all eternity, and it leads directly to Yourself and home!"   ~Susannah Spurgeon



  1. wow. that is amazing. i remember hearing about the accident and how serious it was. looking at those pictures are crazy. i cant imagine what you all went through. how great is our God!!!

  2. Oh Katherine, the Lord has brought you through a trial that I can't even imagine and has given you such a godly perspective! He is so wise and loving! And I have to say, I really enjoyed the picture of Andrew's sweet dimpled smile in the midst of his pain!--Nelly

  3. I remember all too well when we heard the news. Our friends Frans and Christa were with us in England for Christmas when he received the phone call. The 4 of us immediately knelt down to pray for your family. Having spent a month in hospital by the bedside of an injured child myself , I knew what you were up against but I also knew that the Lord was going before you and that His grace would keep you. Although you were complete strangers to us , we thought of you often and kept praying for you over Christmas and into the New Year. When we turned up at seminary 8 months later , it was wonderful to see how it all turned out! I remember our first day in Mainstream , staring at Jon's hand while he was preaching , thinking to myself...that's the hand we prayed for months ago in another country! Much love , Lynette Botes x x

  4. Lynette~ I was amazed that people like you, people who hardly knew us or didn't know us at all, prayed for us. It was humbling, really. Thank you for doing that and for your example of genuine Christian love. God bless!


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