March 21, 2017 is a day I will never forget. This is my story of that day.
But first, some background…
I was raised in a Christian home. It seemed like I was always a believer. I was baptized in my teens and lived a pretty charmed life where nothing too terrible ever happened to me. That all changed on March 21, 2017.
My Dad had passed away the previous November after a long struggle with cancer and heart disease. My four siblings and I were all sad, of course, but not devastated because we knew he was free from pain and in a better place. We were all making extra efforts to spend time with our Mom as she adjusted to her new life without Dad. Mom was a strong Christian, and healthy, with many more years of life ahead of her. I was visiting for a few days. We worked on a puzzle together before watching “Because of Winn Dixie” the first night.
The next day we had errands and shopping planned. I drove my car because Mom didn’t like driving and I knew I would be more comfortable driving my own car.
We had a good day. On the way home we discussed the meal we were going to make from the items we had just bought. Then there was a time of comfortable silence as we both got lost in our own thoughts. The next thing I knew, Mom jolted me out of my thoughts by screaming, “Watch out!” I looked up to see a maroon car directly in front of me as I approached the intersection.
I slammed on the brakes.
There was a crash.
There was the spinning, spinning, spinning…
There was smoke.
I seemed to be okay.
But Mom didn’t. Mom was alive but she wasn’t okay.
Good Samaritans stopped to help.
I prayed and prayed and prayed.
I overheard “… your mother has a neck injury…”
“… you can’t ride with her… we’re taking her by helicopter… fragile…”
Dear Jesus… help! Over and over and over I prayed that simple prayer.
Later we learned that Mom would be paralyzed, if she made it through recovery. But the Lord chose to bring her home instead. Four days from that tragic day, I stood with my four siblings, and we said goodbye as our dear mother passed into the presence of her beloved Jesus.
Later on, I wrote this tribute, which I read at her celebration of life service.
Life can change… in an instant.
Are you ready for it?
It was a beautiful day. We shopped, we ate, we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. We shared memories of Dad…
In that one instant.
In the midst of the chaos and questions of that terrifying day, my family was there for me.
They didn’t judge me.
They didn’t hate me.
They didn’t spurn me.
They hugged me.
They comforted me.
They cried with me.
They loved me. Unconditionally.
They showed the love of Jesus… to me.
How could they show such grace and forgiveness?
Because of Mom.
And because of Dad.
Because of their beautiful examples of God’s love.
Lora, Joanna, Mary, and John…
They held me up…
They enfolded me in their love,
Through every moment of this unthinkable tragedy.
Just as our Lord Jesus does for all of us.
The best gift Mom gave me was raising me to always know that love.
And the second best gift was the family she left behind.
I do believe that without the firm foundation of being raised with Jesus Christ as a central part of my family’s life, things could have gone very different for me that week. I thank the Lord for the grace, love, and mercy that he showed to me through my family.
This is the scripture passage that was read along with my tribute:
The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
But the love of the Lord remains forever
with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children
of those who are faithful to his covenant,
of those who obey his commandments! (NLT)
The Psalms are just…. amazing. 1 Peter 1:6-7 is another scripture that strengthened me during that time, and I think it’s the perfect way to wrap up my story of the day that changed me forever.
1 Peter 1:6-7
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (NLT)