Thursday, December 13, 2012

Days Ordained

The rain came down hard last night and it was cold. In the dark I moved in closer to Jon for warmth and for comfort, and I couldn't help but to think back just a few years ago and recognize that I nearly lost my husband.

It was a morning just like the one we had today, with gentle rain and gloomy clouds. Today marks the anniversary of the head on collision Jon and Andrew survived; though I no longer talk about it a great deal in person, the events of that day and the months to follow have impacted me to such an extent that I cannot keep my thoughts from lingering on those memories.

This morning, as I sat on the arm of the chair Jon was seated in, I mentioned today was the day of the accident. He had forgotten. He's different from me, and doesn't dwell on things the same way. Me, I've been remembering nearly every single day for a month now in anticipation of December 13,  and possibly every single day of every single month since it happened. The events of that day changed me.

It was a Saturday, and I had gotten up early to read my Bible and then exercise before the day started. In the darkness as I stretched, I remember being filled with fear that I would become a widow. Fear doesn't grip me like this very often, and knowing that it was not beneficial to be overcome by such things, I gave those feeling up to the Lord. I prayed that I would still trust in His goodness for me should He take Jon away. I prayed that I would not dishonor His name, even if the unthinkable came to be.

A couple hours later Jon took Andrew, who was just four years old and still in his fuzzy blue jammies,  to pick up some bagels for a breakfast treat. They had been gone just a short while when I received a call from a shaky voiced woman informing me of a terrible accident. She cried. All she could say was that Jon was still alive, implying that he might not make it. My thoughts immediately went back, and I wondered if the Lord had been preparing me just a few hours earlier for something terrible. I began to brace myself.

It is well with my soul...

On the phone the paramedics wouldn't give me hope either, other than to confirm Jon's present state of being alive. I waited for the ambulance to arrive, supernatural peace and gut-wrenching fear intermingled.

It was a terrible day. Many terrible days followed, but this was the most terrible.

After some time --after witnessing pools of blood beneath the stretcher, and catching fleeting glimpses of his bloodied body past the attending medics-- the confirmation that he would survive was indescribable relief. And it lifted me up and gave me the strength to receive the news of Andrew's condition: A broken neck, they said, of the worse category.

But they were both alive.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord...

I remember this day like no other. I remember it better than the day I was married, better than the days my children were born, and I can't help but to remember it again today. Jon, on the other hand, hardly remembers it. His mind cannot recall the minutes before the collision, and the black-out and concussion he incurred kept him from remembering much else. Then the pain-killers, of course, numbed the days that followed. Oh, it was a bad day for him, obviously, but I don't think it has impacted him the same way it has impacted me.

I remember a nightmare... Of kissing my husband good-bye just as he came out of surgery and as the team of doctors from the children's hospital prepared to load Andrew up and take us away. I remember a nightmare in the PICU next to my baby whose head bore screws drilled into his skull, and of more terrible news to bare and decisions to face alone. I remember not having a place to sleep, or the ability to sleep. I remember a scared little boy whose personality was at times unrecognizable due to a cocktail of medicines, and I remember the soft whisper of the aspirating tube I held in case he should vomit. You can't turn a broken neck or move a body suspended in sand bags. Vomit could result in aspiration, and in my exhaustion I sat poised for action.

I remember the screams of a mother down the hall whose child, I assume, did not live.

I remember my three other children needing their mother. I remember feeling so powerless.

Yes, and I remember being upheld, I remember peace. And hope. I remember hope.

Those events, those days, and those experiences-- they have all changed me. They have left me more vulnerable, more grateful, and more keenly aware that my days are ordained by my loving heavenly Father.

I didn't read much of my Bible during our hospital days. I don't think I read it much during the weeks that followed. The only passage I remember turning to was Philippians 4:4-9. It became my theme verse. Interestingly, it is the very text Jon has been preaching through on Sunday mornings.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

I don't wish the accident had never happened; it was God's perfect plan for us and produced in us what was not previously there. Clearly His ways are not my ways because I would never have chosen such a thing for our family, but I believe with full conviction that His ways are always good. Always good...

(If you are interested, I posted some thoughts and pictures here last year.)

Andrew, my fierce little survivor, celebrated his 8th birthday just two weeks ago.

Sweet little boy. Precious to me like I can't explain.

He's gentle and kind, freakishly determined (not in a stubborn way, just super goal oriented), and sympathetic to the needs of others. And those dimples-- which he is becoming self-consicous about because people comment on them frequently-- suit his charming personality. His look and his charm are very much like his daddy's, so it's no wonder I gush over this little boy of mine!

And just like he was in the intensive care unit, trying desperately to fight back fear and tears, he still works hard at covering up a soft interior. He's still my Boo-Boo Bear.

His birthday was a fun day, despite rain and a resulting change of plans. We had some of his friends over for the afternoon, and they celebrated boy-style with noise volumes that went through the roof!

Eight is a fun age for boys! Here's how he was this morning when I came down to make breakfast this morning:

Play is very serious, and all things serious turn to play. That's the life of an 8 year old boy!

I love you dearly and thank God for you, Andrew.



  1. Wow, I remember that accident when it happened, and how when it was introduced from the pulpit at Grace how I labored in prayer for Jonathan, and Andrew! This was so encouraging, and heartfelt! Thank you for sharing Katherine, and constantly redeeming everything back to the cross where our focus should be. This was something that encouraged me greatly today!

  2. "Days Ordained" those words resonate with me. Psalm 139:16,chosen by David to be inscribed on Michael's tombstone as we grappled with what to put on a child's grave.Then,a decade later,you would choose the same words for your blog.What significance they have for our family.

    Like you Katherine,this day does not pass without a flood of memories.Once again I recall God's goodness and grace to me as a mom and grandma.Once again I come to His throne with a heart full of thanksgiving for what He has ordained.

    Time hides some memories but some are etched so very deeply that they cannot fade even with passing years.I can still hear your words on the phone and how time just seemed to stand still for a minute as I tried to comprehend what you were saying.The travel plans are a blur to me, but walking into Children's hospital ICU and the sight I witnessed will always remain with me.To see my precious grandson with screws in his head and weights attached to the band on his head hanging over the bed,preventing any movement of the neck,his body so tiny in that big bed,and there I was,once again in Children's ICU with a tiny child that I could not do anything for, and memories flooding back and the same crushing weight I had felt as a mom,I now felt as a grandma.To see on your face the strain and unbearable stress of 48 hours of uncertainty and lack of sleep,as you worried about Jon in another hospital and your sweet son who needed you so badly at this moment.
    I remember the scream for help in the middle of the night when Andrew had been sick and we wondered if the injury to his neck had been compromised.I remember another little boy turning 6 and having his cake in a hospital corridor and yet without complaint.I remember Andrew being so patient with me as I am sure I about smothered him once he got home because I really didn't even want him to move for fear he damage further the injured neck.Then there was that trip we took to have a coffee in downtown L.A. Andrew did so well at holding it all together until we returned to the car where he had a complete meltdown.I felt like sitting there by the side of the car and crying with him,it was so heartbreaking.This little child having to endure so much.Andrew was indeed a model patient,rarely ,very rarely,did he ever complain and always had that wink for me before breakfast.Jon,on the other hand,just wanted to get back doing everything he was used to doing.I knew he was an adult and father to 4 but to me he was still my child and I wanted him to slow down and take it easy.BUT...there he was,preaching,standing the whole time,(although they had put a chair behind him)just a few short weeks later.My heart did swell with pride (I must confess).

    Through it all Katherine ,you were the family's rock.You tended to both of them tirelessly and tenderly in spite of very little sleep and an overwhelming emotional strain.Family life resumed as quickly as possible and adjusted to the new norm.I was so proud of all the children.After several weeks I remember thinking that you all really needed to just be a family again.Yet,as any mom,I wondered if you would all be OK (I silly).Then one day(I don't know if you remember)you came and said to me that you really needed to be Mom again.Then I knew...your little family was on the way to healing.

    As we remember back,I am also reminded of God's faithfulness and grace to me, and I am once again brought to my knees to thank the Lord,first and foremost for His gift of salvation to me and my family,and then for the peace He gives me in knowing that my family's "Days are Ordained" by my loving Father.

    1. Carol,

      More tears! I've come to believe that motherhood is a deep ocean of suffering! Whether we are praying for a sick child, an injured child, or for the salvation of an unrepentant child, there is a constant awareness of our frailty and utter dependence on the Lord. We hurt for our children. I am discovering that this vulnerability to pain will not ease in this lifetime, and perhaps will only increase. How thankful I am for our God who sent HIS SON to suffer for me and for my children, and whose suffering will put an end to ours. What unimaginable love for us!

      I know this was difficult for you to write. There are many memories of those days and months that will never be shared here on this blog, but I am very thankful that you have joined me in recording more details. It amazes me to see how the threads of our lives meet and touch each other, and that a simple theme as "Days Ordained" mark both of our lives through our sons (and Jon, too).

      Knowing all that you had already suffered, the phone call I made to you that Saturday was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Thank you for your faithfulness to your family, and selfless service to us in a time that was incredibly difficult for you. We love you.


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