When I first moved back to Oregon in 2004 I started working with a girl who had been in a car accident while traveling with her mom and brother to school. She, 11 years old at the time, had suffered a traumatic brain injury and her older brother, 13, was killed. Upon hearing her story and learning more about what had happened I remember being overcome with emotion, not only her and her brother but for her parents. This accident changed their lives forever.
I remember watching her mother work with her and move through this world with such grace. I was in awe of this amazing woman I knew had tremendous faith. Such a role model, so positive in light of her situation and so uplifting. I did not understand how it was possible.
I had faith but I still could not imagine how someone, after losing one child and having another one seriously injured, could demonstrate such a positive attitude and interact with those around them in such a graceful way. Why was she not mad and angry? How was she able to get out of bed in the morning?
Not having any children at the time I could only imagine what she was going through and I remember thinking that I hoped I never had to experience such a loss as hers.
If you would have told me on October 19th that my daughters were going to go to Heaven the next day I would have thought my world was ending. I would have told you that you might as well take me to Heaven too because life as I knew it would be over. I would have been convinced that if I didn’t go with them I would probably be curled up in my room until I withered and died. There was no way I wanted to live if my girls weren’t here.
I’m not sure exactly when it started, it could have been brewing as I stood in the alley the night of the 20th, in total shock that my girls were gone, or it could have started 10 years prior, when I first met my friend who I was going to have more in common with than either of us knew.
I didn’t feel God working on my heart, I just felt sorrow and a pain that was like nothing I had ever felt. I’m sure at some point he, all-knowing, realized the pain I was experiencing was far greater than any mother should endure. I had to lean on him and trust him with every ounce of my being or my heart would wither and die. Leaning and totally trusting him has brought me peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding.
He was not only working on my heart but the hearts of so many around me. He has orchestrated the most amazing support network around us and has prompted people to care for us and those around us. His love has been far reaching.
Some may say that we have made the choice to forgive, to pray and to live our life with an open heart to those who drove through the leaves that night. I guess at some point it is a choice but I can honestly say that I can’t imagine the alternative – so really there is no choice for me. I figure I have, maybe, 40 more years left on this earth and if I choose anger and bitterness and walk away from God and his grace I would be choosing a very empty life without my girls. I know being angry wouldn’t honor them, being bitter would only destroy my perfect memories and turning my back on God would essentially be just like turning my back on Anna and Abigail. I will not do that.
I think a lot about my friend and the grace she has displayed in the past 10 years since her loss. I think about her life now and how she lives so full of God’s love, I now see and feel it.
I know that God placed her and her family in my life for a reason.
He is so amazing!