The following event happened 6 years and 2 weeks ago. I tried to write about it on the anniversary and just couldn’t bring myself to do so, but during this season of Thanksgiving I think it is a story I need to tell.
The day started out like any other, but the ending was drastically different.
My parents were on their way over for dinner. Chili simmered on the stove. Jason and I busied ourselves in the kitchen while Joshua (2 and half years old) watched TV and Austin (a mere 2 and a half months) played on his play mat tucked away out of the path of foot traffic. We own a tri-level and our kitchen looks out over our family room so you can kind of be two places at once.
I cannot bear to give too much detail at this point. We heard a tremendous crash. The large speaker to our stereo system fell scattering a basketful of DVD’s all over the floor. And it landed right on top of our nearly newborn son, in a place we thought we had laid him safe out of danger.
We raced down the stairs. Jason lifted up the speaker and our sweet baby was not conscious. And the whole world converged into one moment in time. The oppression of sheer terror is indescribable.
Finally, a breath, and a cry, and the realization that this was an emergency of all emergencies. My poor parents walked in a house greeted with chaos. We barked urgent instructions to take care of Joshua and fled to the hospital.
We rushed inside and seemed to be the only ones in a hurry. The admission process for examination was painfully long. The questions pronounced slowly and deliberately.
The x-rays ensued and at first everything appeared fine. The doctor wanted to do one last set to be sure. After an eternity she re-entered the room, and through tears (a really bad sign) informed us the last scan showed three fractures in Austin’s skull. We would be transported to Riley by ambulance.
And my blood ran cold, liquid ice coursing through my veins. The reality of the doctor’s tears and the words “skull” and “fracture” were nearly too much for my brain to comprehend. I was just making chili minutes ago on a beautiful fall day. Life had changed in an instant.
Never has a trip to Indianapolis seemed to take so long. With every bump of the ambulance I fretted over my baby’s comfort. I had a completely disconnected feeling. My body functioned, but in an auto-pilot mode.
Riley Hospital was such a tremendous blessing. Finally, we felt like people believed that what we were experiencing was truly an emergency. Nurses and doctors were everywhere. Everything happened quickly.
When they sent a hospital pastor to talk with us I knew things were beyond the realm of a minor accident.
We all have defining moments in our lives. Life happens and we find ourselves at a crossroads. The choices we make set us on a course for better or worse. When the new tests with more sophisticated equipment revealed my baby had bleeding on his brain I found myself at just such a place.
This situation had three possible endings. I could lose my baby, he might suffer brain trauma that would affect him forever, or he could possibly pull through and recover just fine. And I knew I needed to be prepared to accept any outcome. For me, I felt it was a choice I needed to make before I even knew the ending of the story: a choice to trust God regardless of a happily ever after or a tragic end. Could I trust God to care for me irrespective of whether He answered my prayers the way I wanted Him to? And I determined, with that peace that passes understanding, that yes I could.
My lullaby for Austin has always been “You Are My Sunshine.” This song took on a whole new meaning as I gently sang to him as he lay on that hospital bed: a mother’s heart cry, “Please don’t take my sunshine away.” And in spite of his pain he would look up at me with a weak smile, a true ray of sunshine during a very bleak time.
In this situation my story had a happy ending. Austin fully recovered after a couple of days in the hospital, and brings us more sunshine each day than I could possibly imagine. Jason and I fight our own panic attacks each time he hits his head, as it conjures up terrible memories, but other than that all is good.
When we visited the neurologist for our follow-up appointment, she told us she hadn’t said anything while we were in the hospital for fear of scaring us, but she informed us of just how incredibly blessed we were. She told us that most small children in those situations don’t have such good outcomes. In fact, household injuries are one of the top reasons kids ages 3 and under visit the ER and nearly 70% of the children who die from unintentional injuries are 4 and under (kidshealth.org).
If you know someone with small children, please share this post with them. Many accidents are preventable. If something is at all wobbly, it should be secured. Here is a link to some good safety checklists for your home. Take these suggestions seriously.
Finally, I am so thankful my story turned out the way it did, but I have other stories that don’t have a good ending. Prayers I’ve prayed where God answered no, not this time. I can guarantee you two things. First of all, life will be messy. Secondly, you may not always get the end result you desire, but God will always carry you through. We all have the hope available to us of an eternal happily ever after.