Sunday, September 13, 2009

Forever Changed - 16 Years

We all have circumstances or events that constitute the sum of who we are. Some are happy and some are not so happy. Still, I choose to accept the view that had I not experienced these circumstances or events I would not be the person I am today. And having these experiences will, hopefully, allow me to help someone along in their journey of this thing we call life.

I could tell you all sorts of stories about my childhood and on that have had tremendous impact to me being, well, me. But, the one I'm talking about today visits my mind and emotions probably the most often, particularly during the month of September and particularly today, September 13th.

My life was forever changed September 13, 1995. It doesn't seem possible it could have been twelve years ago, yet it seems like a life time. At that time I was deep into getting a Bachelors in Mathematics. Exactly one week before I had spoke before a special committee of the Kentucky State Legislature as a representative of the Community and Junior Colleges throughout the state. My mornings consisted of getting my children, Aaron-17, Sara-14 and Jordan-9 off to school before I headed out for my day of classes. On this particular morning Sara's friend Jenny had called to say she had missed her bus and could they give her a ride to school. You know as a mom you get tired of being the jerk so I told them sure. I didn't want her to get in trouble with her mom for missing school. As I was getting ready to go out the door they pulled up, Aaron had forgotten his backpack. Backpack in hand off they went. Just as I was walking down the front steps the fire alarm in town went off and as I got to the end of our road a State Trooper went flying pass me with light and siren on full tilt.

I almost turned to go the same way, but decided I was being ridiculous so I turned right and went on my way. The kids didn't have cell phones at the time. Aaron had a pager and I called it thinking that when he got to school he would call. And then I called Nanny's house. She lived about a block from the high school so I made them park there instead of the school because I was afraid they would have a wreck with all the craziness of kids trying to get out of the parking lot at final bell. She hadn't seen them, but I told her it was foggy and it was probably just taking them a little longer than normal. I ended up calling Aaron's pager and Nanny a couple more times. Then I called the church to speak to my husband, David. Our Church Administrator said that he had received a call stating that the kids had been in an accident and he and our Associate Pastor had gone to check it out. David wouldn't have anything to do with a cell phone but I knew Marion had one so I called it. Marion answered and as soon as he knew it was me he gave it to David. As he said hello I could hear the helicopter blades in the background as two choppers lifted off to head for Louisville. David stated that the kids had been injured in a one vehicle accident and were being stat flighted to Louisville but not to worry, he was sure it was just a standard thing and for me to go on to classes. I knew better, I knew if they were stat flighting them it had to be serious. We discussed a good place for me to meet him so we could go to the hospital together.

As I drove to our meeting place my phone rang. It was the police, they had found Aaron's pager going off and called the number. As soon as he knew it was me he asked if I knew where my children were. I told him it was my understanding they were being flown to a hospital in Louisville. He said yes, my two were being taken to Kosair Children's Hospital and that Jenny was being taken to University. I told him how to get in contact with her mother and hung up. I didn't know the extent of any of their injuries but I knew enough to know that if Jenny was being taken to University she was the most seriously injured.

Once we arrived we were ushered into an emergency room where Aaron lay on one side and Sara on the other. They had both been thrown out the sun roof of Aaron's little Ranger and both had sustained broken backs plus many lacerations and contusions. Sara's back was broken in the thoracic area and her spleen had been badly damaged. Aaron's back was broken in the lumbar region and he had two plastic surgeons working on his face and head for a number of hours. Sara was in the hospital for about a week and a half and then sent home for a month or so to see if her spleen would heal before they did her back surgery. She had to wear one of those hard tortoise shells in order to be able to move around. They performed Aaron's surgery within the first couple days. And he remained in Kosairs for about a week and a half before he was transferred to Frazier Rehab. Basically he had to learn to walk all over again. He remained at Frazier for about 5 -6 weeks. By the time we were able to take him home he literally looked like someone from a concentration camp. It took him many months before he could walk without a cane and he had to wear a brace for some time. David stayed home with Sara and I stayed with Aaron.

Two days after the accident they removed little Jenny off of life support. If you have children, particularly older children, you know there are friends that your kids have that you like but when they are around it is like having a guest and then there are friends that just fit in, they seem like part of the family. Jenny was one of those. When she was around she just felt like one of mine.

I cannot begin to tell you the grief I felt at that time. The Bible says that when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was in so much grief and pressure that He actually sweat drops of blood. I cannot imagine that kind of grief, I felt at any moment large droplets of blood would begin to pour from my forehead. I experienced immense grief but also anger and even guilt. Why did I get my babies back, injured and maimed yes, but I got em back and why didn't Jenny's parents get her?

It took me several years to work through that. Am I actually through it now? When something so traumatic happens to you I don't know that you ever actually get over it. Here twelve years later I could cry as if it were yesterday. Is it easier? Definitely. Sometimes I feel like Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll think about that tomorra, if I think about it today I'll go crazy." But when it is this time of year or I look at my children, particularly Aaron, and see how their lives could have been different it is a challenge.

Sara is doing great, she has rods on both sides of her spine. Which, to her joy, will require her to have c-sections when she has children. That makes her happy, I don't know why. Do you want pain before or pain after?

Aaron is doing quite well. He is slightly crooked and lives with pain everyday of his life. But he still gets to do what he loves to do, play and teach private music lessons.

They are alive and living a happy and productive life. I gave up multiple scholarships. I attempted to get back into the flow and complete that degree several times over the years. But, I was just never able to get back into it. And that is okay.

I don't know all the reasons for things, and I don't always understand but truly one thing I do know is Romans 8:28 says "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. "

Does that make my pain go away. Not really, but it does bring comfort. And I know that I am better prepared to understand the grief and pain of others than I would have before.

I have been forever changed.


Arianwen said...

Thinking of you and yours.

Traci said...

I can see how you have been forever changed. I'm sorry you are feeling so low.
My kids recently lost a friend (5 1/2 year old boy) and we have all been grieving. It is so hard.

Anonymous said...

With all my love to you, Peggy.

Thinking a lot of you, I know you have difficult time.

Heidi Kim

loribird said...

Much love to you, Peggy.

SYLVIE said...

Thinking of you and sending you a big hug!

Roseann said...

I truly appreciate you sharing your experience with us. Al lost a friend in the Pentagon on Sept. 11 and reading about your family and your triumph over tragedy is very comforting at this time of year.

GailR said...

Thinking of you and yours and wishing you peace and continued healing.

Joanne said...

Peggy, I'm sending you a big hug! A lot of dog kisses, too, from my dogs!...I am thinking of you. I'd been wondering how you were doing (other than room measurements) and want you to know that I care. Please keep on keepin' on...and hug your kids, your pets, and your husband. They need and care for you!

TheBond said...

You know how very loved you are, don't you? We've got your back and shoulders for you when you need them. You have lovely children and a wonderful husband, all of whom are happy and fed and warm and loved. Chin up, beautiful!

BammerKT said...

Oh wow, I am so sorry to hear that you are feeling so bad. Hugs to you!

Janet said...

My dear friend Peggy,
My heart goes out to you and yours. Life can be forever changed in the blink of an eye. Words are not enough to express our feelings. You take the time you need to heal and be better. We are always here to listen if needed. You take care, hugs and kisses.

Ma Dalton said...

hard time make us stronger and stronger.. Love and keep your beautiful smile..

Traci DeSheles said...

What a life changing time...we never know what the next day is going to bring. A very close friend of ours lost her 5 1/2 year old son. He was the boy that Bella was going to grow up and marry. Emma was old enough to get it and she really never has gotten over it. How can any of us? Young people aren't supposed to go first. Hugs and blessings to you and your whole family.