Everything can change so suddenly.
About 11 p.m. on December 22, after a day of holiday visits with family, my kind and generous stepfather fell asleep behind the wheel, veered off the road and hit a tree head on. It was a powerful impact. He broke both arms, shattered a portion of his left leg. There was internal bleeding and blood on his brain.
For our family, this has been a Christmas of shock and awe. Days and nights circling around the ICU waiting room, learning the medical language, feeling helpless while someone we love is in pain beyond our power to soothe or reach.
That’s the shock part. The awe part has been about seeing each other as the remarkable, beautiful, gifts that we are to each other. The steadiness and wisdom in my brothers. The way my sister can make us laugh at ourselves and be taken seriously at the same time. My mother’s strong advocacy, quick mind and committed, tender heart. I look around the halls of the hospital, and I feel the glory in everyone I meet. What a wonder it is to be alive.
Tonight, Ed will have an extensive surgery to try to reconstruct his leg and elbow. Before they took him to the OR, he was more responsive than he’s been since the accident. He clearly recognized his son and daughter, and my mother, too. Mouthing words of love to them. And then I stepped into his view. His eyebrows popped up in recognition. He looked straight at me. And then he winked.
These are days of signs and wonders.
Everyday is a day of signs and wonders.
We realize there is a long road of recovery and rehabilitation ahead. It’s not just Ed’s road, but one that will be walked by everyone who loves him. We’re a ragtag, glorious bunch. And we’ll stumble along, trusting that God has been, is, and will be somehow right in the midst of the way we go.
Everything can change so quickly, but we will live into that change slowly. Maybe, just maybe, becoming signs and wonders ourselves.
“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time….. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming in you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.”
~ Teilhard de Chardin