Well, the Gabriel part is over, anyway, and though many of the challenges persist and will persist – I’m not done talking about this stuff – the major difficulty is surmounted, the cast is off, and Gabriel is whole again. He’s still not walking. We’ll have more updates, so you can breathe out again. But now it’s all about him, not about him and doctors and hospitals.
The night this injury happened six weeks ago, I have a scene in my head from outside the hospital. I can see myself as if I were watching a movie, walking across the parking lot of American Fork’s Emergency Room, still dressed in the remnants of my tuxedo from the Twelfth Night Charity Ball, watching the taillights of the ambulance as it carried my wife and little son away from me. I remember feeling terribly alone, shaken and scared and hopeless. For the first time in a long, somewhat disappointing night, I was by myself, and I began to weep.
I raised my eyes to Heaven, where dwells a Father I believe in, and I told him, “I don’t understand. I don’t understand what you’re doing to me.” We’ve been together, my Father and I, long enough for me not to insult Him by asking “why”, for no such answer is ever going to be forthcoming. I know better. Despite my sadness and frustration over this event, I wasn’t so lost as to forget that I was still the most blessed of men. I wasn’t so far gone that I thought that God somehow owed me an explanation, as if a God omnipotent and all-loving might be making a mistake. Of course He did not, and does not, and I will trust in Him, though he slay me. But I wanted to tell Him, although of course He knew, that I didn’t understand.
He has spent the last six weeks helping me get over that. And though I am not so simple as to believe that I can ever search all the ways of God, find out all His counsels, or ever know all the reasons why He does the things He does, still I can see so many places where His hand has been evident. This post is my thank-you letter, to a merciful God that loves me better than I love myself.
Because this happened:
- How many friends have I connected and reconnected with? Nothing brings friends closer than misfortune, and this misfortune was no different. I can hardly count all the well-wishes we’ve received, all the old and new friends we’ve spoken to and been able to thank for their kindness and consideration of us. If from this life I can take anything, it is surely not my home or my business, but the friendships and the relationships I made while I was here. I’ve said before that I know that you CAN “take it with you”. You just have to convert it to the currency they use where you’re going. Thank you, all of you, for making me the richest man in town.
- How much more have I been compelled to be humble? It’s a little tough to have unwarranted confidence when you’re faced with concrete evidence that often, there’s nothing you can do to make things better, or even different. Sometimes, no matter your business acumen or physical strength or even your money, you just can’t do anything except keep on keepin’ on. No money could make Gabriel’s leg heal any faster. Nothing but playing with him and sleeping with him and holding him while he sobbed and screamed could do anything to make things better. I saw often and clearly that I was powerless before the conditions that I found myself in.
- How much more of my real power have I discovered? I have never fancied myself a great businessman. I’m a Bailey – and not Harry Bailey, either. Peter, more like, or George. But what I have loved so much about the story of that film is the invisible power George has, a power that improves the lives and the fortunes of hundreds of people in ways that are obscure and even hidden from him. Despite my feeling of powerlessness in the face of Gabriel’s discomfort, my wife’s weariness, my family’s displacement, the damaging or outright destruction of dreams and plans we had, I discovered to my surprise a different power, far stronger than I supposed, that could still improve things, even if making the problem go away was impossible. I COULD hold my little son. I could let my wife sleep in here and there. I could focus our family on the things I could do. And I could tell the story of what we were doing, in the hope that someone out there could benefit if he were caught in similar circumstances.
- How much fun have I had being a daddy blogger? There are a huge number of Mommy blogs out there, and I love to read them, but I occasionally feel that perhaps there ought to be a few more Daddy blogs, because as important as it is for us men to hear how our wives think – I can’t tell you how useful I find that – it’s still nice to sometimes hear the truth about what’s going on in Dad’s head, too. We tend to sit there like Lincoln on Rushmore and just take it. At least, we look like we do. But we hurt, too, and we feel powerless and hopeless and achy and all the same stuff everyone else does. We just don’t talk much about it. It’s been educational to use this space to be perfectly candid about our situation from the Dad’s perspective, and I’ve been grateful for those of you Dads out there that have let me know that you appreciate it, too.
- How much have I learned? Before this, I knew nothing about the medical establishment. I knew nothing of medical billing, hospital procedures, emergency rooms, medical staff, treatment options and possibilities for rehab. I had done some vague thinking about insurance and government assistance, but nothing of concreteness. That’s changed. I’ve learned about thinking outside the box on daily challenges, being patient in extreme provocation with my youngest child, and how compassionate and creative my other children are because they love their brother. I’ve been able to re-imagine my life, partly out of necessity, and discovered how incredible things can really be. I was blind. In so many ways, now I see.
- How would I have found Jill Peterson? More than any of these other things, from a business standpoint, the greatest blessing of this ordeal has been the discovery (or re-discovery) of Jill Peterson, who became my executive assistant one week after the accident. I’ll have more on this later. She’s far too important a person to get just a paragraph here. But suffice it to say that had she been the only blessing we received through this, it would have all been worth it. No fooling.
- How ignorant would I have remained about my wife’s incredibility? We’ve long suspected that Jeanette was really Elastigirl in disguise, but this last six weeks has proved it. She can go days with only the briefest of rests. She can maintain her calm at 4am when the screaming child vomits, not because he is sick, but because he’s frustrated. She can retain her appetite while sitting with a child that smells like the inside of a port-a-potty on a hot summer day. She can re-arrange her entire life in a day, giving up or postponing huge numbers of things she’d really like to do. There is nothing she cannot sacrifice. There is no life she cannot affect for good. She has been able to use this to grow closer to each of her children, and to me. She’s the cement that makes the foundation of our family. No husband could love his wife more than I love her, but then, no husband is as fortunate as I am. We’re stronger and we’re better, because of this.
- I wouldn’t have remembered. I blogged about this a long while ago, but it bears repeating here. It seems that only in the face of disaster do we dare to re-imagine our lives, to let go of what we thought would be, what we are terrified of losing, and like a seed bursting from its pod fling ourselves into the unconstructed future, making of it what we can as the chance comes. I remember now.
And today, another blessing, as we are reminded of the incredible miracle of just being whole. To run, to jump, to dance…to touch the smiling face of a loving Father in Heaven, who had a whole treasure chest to give us, if only we would stay with Him as He pushed us into a place we would never have gone ourselves.
I still don’t understand. But I’ve learned, even more, to trust Him anyway.