I have had this memory come to mind a few times in the past two days.
It was Friday, March 16, 2018.
My daughter was in a car accident just 5 days before this. In an instant, she went from being a happy, healthy, full-of-life, smiley sweetheart of a girl to sustaining a severe brain injury, shattered facial bones, an ear to ear incision from surgery, and shaved hair, all bandaged up, lying in a hospital bed in the pediatric ICU in a coma, fighting for her life.
The only movement we saw from her that week was the rise and fall of her chest as the machine did the breathing for her. Waiting, praying, and believing for a miracle. Her brain swelling needed to come down.
On this Friday night, some of our friends invited Roy and me to dinner, figuring we could use a little break from the hospital. We wanted to stay close to the hospital, though, so we chose to eat at Barley’s in downtown Greenville.
I remember sitting on a bench outside of Barley’s as we waited for our table. It was a beautiful evening. The weather was perfect. The sun was setting. I was watching people as they walked around laughing, chatting with each other, smiling, and enjoying the nice Spring evening. Couples were walking and holding hands…people looked content and appeared to be genuinely enjoying each other’s company.
I remember watching them and thinking, “How can life be so ‘normal’ for some people while our life is totally flipped upside down? Nothing about our life is normal anymore. How can people look so happy and content while others are so heartbroken with the worst ache in their stomach?”
I wanted to be out on our Friday night date like usual or with our kids either at home or hanging with their friends like we had done just a week before. How can life change so fast? I wasn’t at all jealous or upset that others were happy. I was glad they were. I wouldn’t wish my pain on anyone. I am one who enjoys life to the fullest, and I love to see others do that as well.
I just couldn’t help but think about how none of them had any idea how much pain we were feeling at that moment (not that they should know). So much pain that I didn’t want to eat; I wanted to be back with my daughter, I wanted to see her open her eyes, I wanted to see her smile and for her to give me a hug like she did every other day. I wanted her to wake up and remember us and come home to sleep in her own bed. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. But I just looked around and fought the tears by blinking fast.
This was an intense week.
It was difficult to focus on the conversation at the table that night. I probably glanced at my phone 100 times, waiting to hurry up and get the food so we could get back to our daughter’s side. But I also didn’t want to go back to the hospital and face the reality that we were living. The sight of Aliah lying there was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever experienced to date.
It reminds me that every single day, we can be going about our days as normal, happy, content individuals enjoying life, and we pass people all the time who are going through the most painful life experiences. Grief. It reminds me to be sensitive to others. Show kindness to someone. Pray for people as the Lord lays them on my heart. You never know what they may be going through.
It reminds me that the messy house, the broken fingernail, the bad hair day, the spilled soda on the floor, the person who cut us off in traffic, waiting in that slow line all really don’t matter…
When we “lived” at the hospital for 51 nights, we felt our own excruciating pain, and we also saw and heard other people’s grief, pain, and heart-wrenching screams. Screams that you don’t want to hear. 💔
All that other little stuff that we often let bother us… isn’t worth it. Enjoy life as much as you can and thank the Lord every single day. Love people well. Enjoy time with the people you are blessed to live life with. Forgive. ❤️
Written by Patti Geesey
Featured Image by Trent Szmolnik