catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 22 :: 2009.11.13 — 2009.11.26




Sudden fog,
    like a white curtain dropped without mercy,
    mingles with smoke,
    screaming sirens,
    and angels lifting vacationers
    from cars, now charred and twisted.

The future hangs shrouded
    in the thick, woolly air…

I lay under a blanket dazed and damaged,
    while God’s gaze penetrates past
    the dense whiteness.
    He remembers me with grace.

“Control is an illusion,” a friend of mine often says. I tend to think she’s right. It takes but a split second, and the things we thought were in place and under control, abruptly change forever.

My husband and I, along with two of our daughters, found ourselves caught in sudden dense fog on the way home from a mini-vacation. As we slowed down and stared into the eerie whiteness, a crushing impact from behind convulsed us back and forth with a force I will never forget. I saw five-year-old Elisabeth’s legs fly up. My husband, Barry, clutched his sides with an agonizing grimace. I felt myself ricochet like a rag doll. Explosions, screeching metal and screaming pierced the murky mist around us. Several vehicles caught fire. The twenty-plus vehicle crash killed four people (two of them children) and injured 25 others.

For months, we embarked on an unsolicited journey shadowed with whispered what-ifs and a strange, new vocabulary. Though the girls incurred minor injuries, the future of my husband and I lay shrouded in uncertainty as helicopters flew us to hospitals 45 minutes apart. Barry suffered a lacerated spleen, traumatic brain stem injury, and coma. I broke neck and back vertebrae, underwent two major operations, and wore a halo and neck brace for about 21 weeks. With months of therapy, we regained basic functions and learned to walk again. My husband still has partial double vision. Life, as we knew it, will never return. Yet because of God’s grace and the prayers and help of many, we now lead somewhat normal lives.

Out of control. One moment we were a family merely coming home. The next, we lay helpless, at the crossroads of life and death.

“God is in control.” A cliché? Perhaps. Yet many times throughout our journey, I drew immeasurable comfort from this truth. I still treasure my simple, broken conversations with God in the quiet of those long nights.

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