I am bombarded daily with numerous, innocuous visuals. We all are. A funny post on Facebook. A migrating, seldom seen bird at our feeder this spring. These usually make me smile. Other visuals concerning real life may prove to be sad, happy, thought-provoking, painful or tear inducing, cause me to pause. While some are fleeting, stopping only for a few seconds before they move on and are forgotten. Others linger much longer, some may never find a way out of your head or heart again.
It’s how we respond to these glorious, distasteful, silly, serious, hurtful, phenomenal events in our lives that make a difference. Determining who we are. You may have had a great day shopping, feeling accomplished. You’re backing out of a coveted parking spot at the mall when suddenly you hear a car horn blaring. Turning your head you see a guy’s imposing Chevy Yukon 2 feet from your bumper and he’s flipping you the bird. Now your reaction can go a couple of different ways. You can throw up your hands with ‘Dude, my bad’ look or you can mouth some mighty strong, easy to lip-read language of your own, and see where it goes from there. Since the swimming suit in the store was flattering enough it’s now in a bag on the passenger seat, you go with, ‘geez I’m sorry, I was watching my backup mirror and your honking big truck was just out of my line of vision,’ and happily give him your spot. Had the swim suit actually shown how big your ass really is might have resulted in a different response.
We haven’t had a pet for several years. Chico was 17, half blind, mostly deaf but he still had quality to his life. Roamed our little cul-de-sac, visiting neighbors who were quite patient with him standing in the middle of our shared driveway, unaware that a car was behind him, patiently waiting for him to move. I don’t think of myself as much of a animal person (allergic to cats) yet there’s something about animals that makes me a weepy mess. Recently, we were watching a program where a female (human) character’s background was being introduced. A time when Chris was a rookie officer a few years back and had a K-9 dog for a partner. Chris was just told her retired police dog was near death. If she wanted to see him before he was euthanized she shouldn’t wait. I bawled through the whole episode about the dog, which really wasn’t even the main storyline. I don’t know why I do this. It’s just the way I am. Can’t watch PSA’s about malnourished, shivering thrown away pets and have to move quickly past memes about taping a dog’s mouth shut, illegal dog fights and other tortuous pictures. I just can’t.
One sentence from ‘Compassionate Friends’ posted on Facebook recently stuck in my head since I read it. As a mom/gram/great-gram, these simple, stark messages pack a powerful punch. It’s not possible to have anything worse happen than losing a child. My parents went through it when my brother died at 12 and our family was never the same. That one tragic event changed our lives forever. This is what the message read, “Parents fear dying until they lose a child, then they fear living.” Unless you’ve gone through it, one cannot imagine what that’s like. My worst fear.
I get this college periodical a couple times a year. I got on their mailing list for some reason. When this 30 page magazine arrives, I am compelled to read it cover-to-cover. (It’s weird, I don’t know why. I know almost no one from the school or town). There might be alumni/students/staff who toss it as soon as it hits their mailbox, but I cannot. Sometimes when you least expect it, God sends you a message. A sign. He wanted me to read, heed and pay close attention.
This story is not about someone I know. Probably read it 6 or 8 weeks ago. It’s 3 pages long with a couple pictures. This guy (I would guess about my youngest kids age-upper 30’s) is happily married, has 5 young children, a good job and had just bought and moved his family into a larger house and yard. They had oodles of plans for their new home and landscaping last summer. But they also needed a short respite. So with his wife, the kids and dog, they went to visit family for their summer vacation. On the last day they decided not to leave as early as they had originally planned, but opted for one more family outing before hitting the road back to Michigan. Maybe the traffic around Chicago wouldn’t be as congested.
Dad was driving east near the Michigan State line when a wheel/tire from a car in the westbound lanes bounced over the guard rail, crashed through the windshield of the family van, hitting dad square in the face. He was immediately knocked unconscious, the van bumped into the guard rail before mom grabbed the steering wheel and eased it over to the right shoulder and stopped. She frantically called 911 and waited. A nearby hospital patched him up, but since his injuries were very critical, he was transferred to the hospital at U of M in Ann Arbor (about 175 miles away, but now fairly close to their home).
His face/head was fractured in 50 different places. 50. Eleven hours of surgery, attaching seven titanium plates and screws up the wazoo, putting his face and head back together. A miracle. He was the 5th patient with similar injuries at U of M in 2018. He’s the only one who lived to talk about it. Once he gained consciousness he was overcome with gratitude, not only for God sparing his life, but the rest of his family. And others.
News spread quickly through the small college town. Coworkers, students, townsfolk helped with meals, caring for the children, yard work, eagerly gnawing their through the family’s long wish list of to-do’s they had made for their new home. He was told he’d be in the hospital at least 3 months. He went home in one week. He was back working at the college in 11 weeks. They knew God was in control.
At the hospital during recovery, he was frequently asked some questions: what’s your name? What month is it? Where are you? Why are you here? His response to the last question never changed. “I’m here because I should have died in a car accident, but God has a different plan for my life.”
This simple sentence. I can’t read or think about it without crying. Profound.
So this little known story from a little known publication I just happened to read has served as a reminder for me the last several weeks. I pray it continues to do so.
1. I am going to stop using the work luck. Nothing in my life has to do with luck.
2. I am still roaming the face of this earth for one reason. The grace of God.
3. I have been blessed more than I deserve. Far more.
4. God has blessed John, our children, grandchildren, great-grandchild and in-laws.
5. God is patient with me, which gives me hope.
6. I have faith I will join my Heavenly Father when He calls me home.
7. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it…