I swing between being pumped up and encouraged, to the rug being pulled out from under me.
“He must become greater; I must become less.”
II Corinthians 12:9, 10
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Many times Danny asks me questions about August 16, 2005; how did so-and-so find out about it, who was there first, who all came to the hospital, etc.
Below, I have posted excerpts from a letter I wrote to Danny about that day, from my prospective. I have taken out names for identity issues and have removed some lines. I know this is a personal letter to Danny, but it will give you all a perspective on where life was that day. It took me weeks to write it as it was like reliving each excruciating moment.
My Dearest Danny,
August 16, 2005 is a day that is forever scorched into my memory. I remember smells, sounds, sights and overwhelming sadness and shock.
As you know I was in Arizona working in my new job, but also working to come back home to you. Life was so confusing during that time; do we stay or do we go? Our marriage was upside-down and I was in the dark to what was really happening in GA and in your mind, in your heart. I felt alone and frustrated, confused and a longing for an end to it all. I desperately needed to get to you, but felt so far away and felt there was something keeping me from finding you; a separation of sorts.
That awful day that set our lives on a new course, I was wearing a purple, short-sleeved shirt that barely covered by growing belly and cropped khaki colored XL maternity pants. My shoes were one size too big and in a wide width. I was huge and hot. I had a fan under my desk in my cubicle to keep me cooler.
I spoke to you that morning about 10:45am local time (1:45pm in GA). I had called your cell phone and you got a call on the land line while I was on the phone. You told me to hold and answered the phone. I’m not sure who it was, but I distinctly remember you telling whomever that you had the “old lady” on the other line. You quickly came back on the line with me and told me you would need to call me back. I told you I was headed to lunch shortly and I would be back at my desk about 11:30am.
……My Nextel beeped and I immediately thought it was you, but “Jonathan” came up on the screen. I thought it odd that he’d call me during the day especially since he’d not done it before, but then I thought maybe it was something to do with the boys. Kari was out of town at training and perhaps he needed me.
I thought it odd too, that he asked me where my office was located. I gave him the cross streets; 96th and Shea Blvd. “Why?” I asked. He told me he was coming to pick me up and take me to the airport and put me on a plane. Split second thoughts were that he was a. kidding or b. hurrying up our plan to have me home by the end of the week. As you know, it was neither of those choices.
He told me that you’d been in a motorcycle accident and that it was serious. You were in the hospital and I needed to get back to Georgia. Shockingly, I was calm enough to tell him exactly where to pick me up and told him I’d meet him outside.
I hung up with Jonathan and asked ____ to come over to my cube and quickly. The tears started to come and I couldn’t breathe; I’m sure there wasn’t much color to my face. I turned from her and began riffling through my desk draws to get anything that I couldn’t live without, all the while telling her that you’d been in an accident and I had to go and wouldn’t be coming back. I took a deep breath and one last look around my desk, grabbing our engagement picture in the Lam Lee frame that you bought me; the one with the heart on top with the wings. Ironically, when I got to Atlanta and pulled the frame out of my purse, one of the wings was broken. It remains that way to this day, on my desk.
…….Jonathan arrived and talked to ____ and asked her to let security know that someone would be coming by to pick up my car later that day. I hugged her neck, thanking her for everything and climbed in the car.
Let the madness begin. Jonathan was on the phone with Dwayne who was trying to find me a non-stop flight to Atlanta that had a seat on it. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out what the hell is going on with you. Jonathan hung up and I started to cry, to sob really. I asked him if he would hold my hand and he did; my big, strong brother held my sweaty hand and squeezed.
He calmly reminded me that I needed to hold it together, that I couldn’t do anything for you in Arizona, but I could and had to take care of our son. Deep breaths. I was on the phone with Dad who was trying to sound composed; details of your injury were sketchy as they were still working on you. Broken pelvis. Internal bleeding. Broken ribs. And, the head injury. Dad didn’t offer the doctor’s prognosis and I didn’t ask, didn’t want to hear it honestly. I was scared and felt even more isolated, except for one thing; Baby Corbin.
I told Dad that I wanted to make sure there was a bed for me in your room that I wanted to stay with you. Also, I wanted to make sure that there was someone there that could check my blood pressure and make sure our son was hanging in there alright. Dad cried, “Oh, Baby. You can’t stay with him because he’s in ICU.” I didn’t understand how serious it all was then; how dramatically life was changing.
I got off the phone with Dad and immediately called D. I got her voicemail and kept calling until she answered finally on the fourth try. I told her that you were at North Fulton Regional Hospital after a motorcycle accident with a head injury. I asked her to call Doc and ask him if you were at the best place for your injuries. Surprisingly, it wasn’t long before she called me back to assure me that you were at one of the best hospitals for head injuries and she was already on her way to the hospital. She was still there when I came in after 2am.
……….I took to packing which wasn’t easy either. What do I take? I can’t take it all. How long will I be there? Am I coming back? I wound up packing work clothes thinking I would need to work as long as I could so we’d have some income coming in. Funny looking back on that now as I never went back to work pregnant. I had to buy everyday casual, hospital sitting clothes when I got to Atlanta.
Still packing, I stared into my closet organized by color and style. I wish I could blame you for my OCD problem, but think we just merely exaggerate each others. I scanned the clothes and landed near the back on black. Black pants, black button down shirt, black shirts, black dresses. Black dresses. I packed two with the hope that I wasn’t going to need to wear them to your funeral, a thought that hit me deep in my gut.
…….Aunt S was hovering like a mother would do, but not sure what to do for me. Uncle D was still on the phone and Jonathan was too. Once my bag was packed, I hugged little B’s neck one last time and then D. How do I explain this to D? I asked if he knew why I was having to leave and wouldn’t be coming back. He said “yea, Uncle Danny got hurt on his motorcycle.” It broke my heart to leave those boys when their mom was gone too; knowing that I wasn’t going to be living here, with them, watching them grow up, watching them grow up with Corbin running behind them.
…….When we got to the airport, I checked in and then we all walked to one of the food court areas. Jonathan made me eat something even though I felt like I’d throw it up. He also bought me something to eat for while I was on the plane.
Ironically, well, orchestrated by God, Pastor M, M and others were headed to a conference and were at the airport too. They found us in the food court and they all huddled around me, laid hands on me and prayed for you, for me and for Corbin. It was a bit comforting to me although I didn’t know what I was facing when I got to Atlanta.
It was time for me to get to the gate, where I had to go alone. Jonathan walked me as far as he could go, then stopped and hugged me. There were no words to say and he knew that. He just hugged me, told me he loved me and we walked away from each other.
Leaving Arizona under those circumstances, following all the drama of the past few weeks, knowing that we weren’t coming back and walking away from the dreams of being close to my family, seeing them regularly, vacations together, holidays together, summer barbecues with the kids swimming in the pool; all those dreams vanished into nothingness. No alternate plans, no other dreams, no future, no understanding; just black.
…….I sat on the front row in coach class; alone. There was no one on the whole row; all six seats were empty, but mine. I chose to sit near the window on the right side of the plane and quickly shelled out the $5 for the headphones for the movie; xXx: State of the Union. I had to get my mind on something else otherwise, I’d have gone crazy.
It was honestly, a peaceful flight in that it was quiet, I was alone on my row and I was isolated from what was really happening at home. There was literally nothing I could do but pray and no one could see me crying.
Once the movie was over, we still had about an hour before we were scheduled to land. I stood up and stretched the best I could; tried to move my legs around a bit. There was a nice couple on the other side of the plane, one row back. The woman was obviously sympathetic as to how pregnant I was and traveling. She offered me their pillows, but little did she know that those pillows were not going to comfort what ailed me.
I sat again and looked out the window into the darkness. I had no idea over what state we were, but could see some lights here and there. It was then that I saw this glowing light on the ground, but it was moving with us. I knew there was no way that it was a light of the plane reflecting off the ground. Soon, I realized that it was the moon, high above us reflecting off bodies of water on the ground. The reflection was so regular that it was almost like steps. It was in that glowing light, in the analogy of steps, in the reality that the light was moving with me, that the Light of the Lord shown through to my heart. It was like that Light spoke to my heart and said that He was with me.
Tears came, of course, but I was again trying to stay calm for Corbin. The isolation on the plane just mirrored what I felt in life. ……….. It was overwhelming the feeling of the unknown, being alone and yet having Corbin in me; the responsibility falling on me. I can’t really put it into words except to say that it felt like someone had reached into my chest and was twisting my heart back and forth; that someone had knocked the breath out of me and though my stomach was full of baby boy, I felt empty.
Coming up the escalator in the airport to baggage claim, I felt like I was on the path between our old life and some new life waiting for me at the top. There was no turning back time or running back and holding onto what was lost; I had to move forward, move up the stairs. My heart thudded in my chest.
As I crested the top of the escalator, there were three bald men waiting for me. I remember commenting that there were “three of my favorite bald men.” Dad, D and J all came to hug me, take my bags and carry me from the airport. No one spoke a word about you and I didn’t ask, yet. I had no idea if you were alive at that point and I was scared to ask, scared to know what may lie ahead of us, ahead of me.
…….Dad and I in the back seat holding hands. I remember D and J were talking a bunch in the front seat; J even laughed and I remember feeling like he wouldn’t be laughing if you had died. Then I felt okay to ask questions, although to be honest, I don’t remember any conversation in the car though I know Dad told me bits and pieces of what was going on with you at the hospital.
…….However, I remember Dad walking me in the doors and I said something like “I bet the next time you all thought you’d see a Diaz in the hospital, it’d be me giving birth.” I hugged everyone there and thanked them for being there and then I asked Dad where we were going.
It was about 2am and the hospital was very quiet. Dad and I walked alone down the hallway; you could feel everyone watching us and he helped support me along the way. We stopped in front of huge, wooden double doors with the visiting hours posted. 2am did not make the list, but as we entered no one paid us any mind.
The Neuro ICU is in the shape of a half moon; the center being the nurses station and the outer being the patient rooms. You were in the far corner room. We walked around the nurses’ station and towards your doorway. You were facing the window; away from the door. The first things I noticed; the tube coming out of your head, tubes down your nose and a ventilator down your mouth, a neck brace, blood pressure cuff, heart rate monitor on your finger, your left leg in traction (a large weight was hanging off the end of the bed), road rash and lots of it, and dried blood pooled in your ears.
It was overwhelming, but I tried to remain calm. Looking back, I can tell I was in shock and denial and definitely naive to the gravity of the situation. I guess everyone is when they’re entering unfamiliar territory and this was definitely unfamiliar.
The night nurse came in to check your monitor and change your IV bag I believe. For the life of me, I haven’t been able to recall his name, but he was very kind and very thorough. He took off your blood pressure cuff and took mine since I was concerned for me and for Corbin.
Honestly, I don’t remember how long I stayed in the room and what exactly I did while I was there. I think I asked Dad questions about your injuries and what all the tubes were. I believe I talked to you; something to the effect of that I was coming back by the end of the week and that you didn’t have to do this to get me here quicker; a futile try at humor in a scary moment.
I remember walking back towards the waiting room, but don’t really remember stopping. I was so tired and overwhelmed and I knew I needed to rest. I stayed that night and several there after at Mom and Dad’s house. I slept in the bed with Mom while Dad slept in a twin bed in my old room. I didn’t want to be alone. My thoughts were all over the place and it was difficult to rest.
……..Honestly, days at the hospitals melted together and I have a hard time specifically recalling each day. It’s more like bits and pieces. T.E. coming by with a cooler of drinks and snacks, Pastor C visiting for the first time with a room full of visitors, Dr. Weaver (neurologist) telling me and your parents that you could die from these injuries….wow, that moment was heavy.
I heard what he said and listened, but my heart couldn’t accept it. Your dad hugged me in the hallway and for a brief moment it felt like you holding me. I remember falling into the wall and sobbing. There was a rush of people coming to my aid and someone got a chair for me to sit. I recall D.M. being there and how sure she was that D would be healed, but he died instead. I cried out to anyone and everyone, “what if God says no? What if He says no?”
With all the unanswered questions about our marriage and then adding all the unanswered questions about your prognosis and our future, a huge weight sat on my chest, on my heart. I truly found out what is meant by heart ache; my heart really ached and there was heaviness to it, a compression to my lungs. Or maybe that was Corbin’s foot wedged underneath. I felt very lost and quite alone.
I went to our house alone and tore through it looking for answers to anything, but all I found were more questions. It was haunting being there and knowing that you wouldn’t be coming back here either. I smelled your clothes, went through draws and shoes and still there was silence. No answers. Just more questions.
And, I guess that is still where we live today. Some questions have been answered, only to be replaced with others. I wish I could tell you why this happened, what our future looks like, what purpose it serves in our lives. I wish I could take away your pain, confusion, frustration and give you back these missing years. I wish I could give you happiness, joy and a positive attitude, but I can’t. I can’t do any of that. But, God can. He can do all of it and more than we could think to ask or imagine.
As we’re here at this fourth anniversary mark, I will make the most of the faithfulness of God. I will put my focus on the laughter we’ve shared, the blessing of Corbin in our lives and the good that has come out of the darkness. I know we’re not out of the wilderness yet. I know there are times that it feels like we’re not moving at all, but I have to put my trust in the Lord for He is good all the time, even when it doesn’t feel good to me, to us.
I would encourage you to first and foremost thank the Lord no matter the circumstances; to praise Him and give Him the glory for what through Him you’ve been able to accomplish. It is only with Him that we have survived. Secondly, be thankful for the many things that you’ve been given following this day four years ago; an absolutely wonderful and healthy son, a renewed confidence in the love and support you have from me, an assurance of the love and support of our families, new and true friends, provision for all life’s needs and blessings beyond our imagination. Thirdly, pray the Lord would begin to reveal to you/us our next steps and the message He would have us deliver. Fourth, forgive yourself, God and any others that you may harbor grudges against. And, finally, LIVE life to the fullest!
Forgive my lack of updates on Danny’s progress at therapy or of how the filming went over the weekend. This is all I could get through today, but I thank God for His faithfulness, for His healing, for His strength, for His Spirit and for His promises. I am nothing, if I do not have Love.
To this. Praise the Lord!