I've just finished watching the 4th hour of The Today Show with Hoda Kobe and Kathie Lee Gifford. Today was an "Everyone Has A Story" episode. If you're not familiar with it people send in their life changing, pivotal stories. The stories that change everything. The stories that mark the moment when life will never be the same. One story is chosen each month and a song is written and performed in honor of the person and their tale. It's an emotional moment.
This morning's story was of an accident victim. The accident changed everything. It marked the moment when life will never be the same...and it got me to remembering that moment in my life.
It was Friday the 13th, believe it or not. The year was 1992. It was about 4:00 am. The house was asleep. Myself, my 11 year old daughter, my 9 year old son, and my 4 month old baby. My husband was not home yet. He was working a late shift and should have been home, but was not. I had actually woken up earlier and was concerned that he was not there, but I convinced myself that there was a logical explanation and I fell back to sleep, only to wake up to the phone ringing at 4:00 am. I wasn't able to pick up in time, but I heard the message. It was Sharp Hospital calling and there had been an accident and I needed to call back right away. Heart beating fast, I remember racing around, trying to find a pencil or a pen so I could write down the number and return the call...when the phone rang again. It was Sharp Hospital again. There had been a serious accident, my husband had been hit, head on, on the freeway, by a wrong-way driver. I needed to get there right away. Panic ensued...but was quickly met with the calm reassurance of the person on the other end of the phone. "Who should I call?", he asked. I gave him my neighbor's number and my Dad's number. I don't remember anything else about that conversation. But then my neighbor called. She offered to come over and stay at the house with my sleeping kids, she also said that her husband would drive me to the hospital. And then my Dad called and he said he would meet me at the hospital. The next thing I can remember is waiting for that neighbor and it hit, like a ton of bricks...this is a pivotal moment. Life from this point on will never be the same as it was before. I was scared. I didn't know what I would find at the hospital. I felt very alone. And, at that very moment, I had no idea as to what the future held. Talk about your world being shaken.
Well that was almost 18 years ago. And things did change. My husband was pretty well broken from head to toe, but when the nurse said "he's lucky" I breathed a sigh of relief, but he was in the hospital for 10 weeks. And he was unable to work for an entire year. And his worst injury is still with him today. His ankle was crushed and the bones had to be fused together. He can not bend that ankle and so he hear wears an orthopedic boot to stabilize it. To this day he experiences pain in that foot, sometimes it's excruciating. But he doesn't let it slow him down and he never uses it as an excuse. He rides his bike, he hikes, he plays baseball, he plays basketball, and he does pay a price of pain after doing these things. But he still does them.
We lost the business we had at the time of the accident and my husband lost the job he was doing that year. But so many, many people rallied to our side and got us through. People we knew and people we didn't know. It was an amazing outpouring of love and support.
And little by little we rebuild our lives. My husband eventually returned to a new job and we started a new business. And we had a new baby. And we moved to a different neighborhood. And I became a homeschooling mom. And two of my kids grew up and moved out. And now I'm a grandma too! Life goes on.
And the then college age girl who hit my husband on the freeway that night who had been driving under the influence and who had served time in jail and who we never thought much about as time went by...well she called a couple of years ago. And she apologized. My husband and I both had a chance to speak with her. And she told us that at first she was more concerned with herself than with us, but as she got older and she was married and she had her own kids, well the gravity of the situation hit her. She told us that she was so sorry for ruining our lives and that she was carrying this burden and she couldn't let it go. But my husband and I were both able to tell her that we forgave her. That she should let it go. That our lives were not ruined, changed yes, but definitely not ruined. And it was good to be able to do that for her.
And we learned things too. We learned what is important. We learned that the people around you are so precious and are to be treasured. And we learned that being on the fast track is no way to live and that making time for loved ones is what is most important. And we keep those lessons with us after all those years ago.
So now you're probably wondering why I am recounting all of this now. Well seeing that story this morning just brought it all back and that song that they sang could have been sung to us and it just made me remember...