When the phone rings. When the diagnosis is pronounced. When the pink slip is received. When divorce is discussed. When the reality sets in. These are the things that hit us out of the blue. Out of nowhere, without a hint that they are on their way. And often, they are devastating.
We received a call like this earlier this year. An ER doctor was “looking for next-of-kin” for our son and his wife who live in Chicago. First, can I just say that my mind immediately associates “Next-of-Kin” with the death of a person, and this phrase immediately made it difficult to comprehend exactly what I was hearing.
After much probing and assurance that I was my son’s father, I learned that our son and daughter-in-law were in a head-on collision and had been transported to the hospital. Getting a clear understanding of their condition, what had happened, and next steps was so challenging in the midst of the chaos happening in the ER. With answers still pending, we threw clothes in a bag, made arrangements for the house, and drove the 4+ hours north as quickly, and as safely as we could.
When we finally arrived at the hospital, we were able to get a better understanding of what had happened. Someone tried to pass another car, pulling into oncoming traffic and causing the wreck. The result was devastating, emergency surgeries for our daughter-in-law along were needed to save her life. Two stays in ICU, months of physical therapy, and injuries will result in life-long follow-up, treatment, and physical struggles for them both. The emotional toll may never be known. As often happens, the driver who caused the accident walked away without a scratch.
But it wasn’t until a few days later that we better understood terrifying reality of how serious this event was. Seeing the car first-hand revealed the truth that our children were lucky to survive the collision at all.
The interesting thing about this event is that our beautiful loves were doing nothing more than driving 35 miles-per-hour on a city street, taking their new puppy to the vet for his first round of shots. It was 11:00 am in the morning. It was just a normal day.
In the 10 months that have passed since the accident, there has been much anger. There have been quite a few tears. There have been many modifications to work, schedules, routines, practices: Everything from how to button a shirt, to how to get from the 3rd floor apartment to the street and back with groceries in hand.
But there has also been resilience. There has been fortitude and grit. They’ve shown determination and a unity of purpose.
The car, the crash, the call…All out of the blue. It’s how we handle the following days, weeks, months and years that reveals our true character. The depth of our love for one another. The anchor that holds us steady in the storm.
I’m so grateful that these beauties are doing so well. It took some time, but they regrouped and pushed forward. And I’m so glad.