Friday, February 4, 2011
5 MORE MINUTES...A LESSON in LIFE
I have one more story about choice.
I want to preface it by saying...
Choose your battles wisely.
Know that each minute counts.
Love your children.
I don't know if it can help anyone or exactly how, but I'm sure there is a purpose, as it has been on my mind heavily this week.
It was April, 1997.
My precious daughter, Anna Lee, was 5 years old. She was a beautiful, spunky, unique, joyful, pride and joy, little girl. It was one night around 9:00 when her life, our lives, things would change.
She was playing around as usual, bouncing, singing, being a normal little 5 year old.Her father and I were nestled into a movie... I can still remember the chill in the air that night. It was only a week after Easter, Spring was on the horizon but the night air still left a hint of winter not so far away in the recent past.
As we were watching our movie, Anna Lee was getting more and more, I guess you could say, mischievious. Things had gotten a little out of hand, so she was sent to her room for some "quiet time". I write those words with much hesitation.
It had been a few minutes, and she called out, "Can I come out now?" I replied, with total innocence of what the next words would bring, "No, you have 5 more minutes." God has a plan each and every day for all of us, the next minutes, were in HIS plan, but certainly not in mine.
I heard her say, "Fine then! I'm just gonna read a..." and then I heard the loudest crash of breaking, shattering glass I had ever heard. If you've ever had children, you can understand the piercing stab in your heart when you KNOW something terrible has happened. It's a part of you that goes numb, your heart beats out of your chest, but something unexplainable takes control and somehow, you keep moving. Chris (her father) and myself jumped out of our comfy seats and darted down the hall toward her room. I really don't think each of us took more than 2 steps to get there. He got there first. I knew in my heart that something was wrong...because it was unpeacefully quiet.
I stood in the door to her room and all I could see was him hovering over. My little girl was underneath a china cabinet; all I could see was her feet sticking out from the bottom. Chris, lifted it off, while I stood in the doorway, not able to breathe. The drawer must have jammed..she wanted to read a book that was in that stupid drawer...
He leaned down to pick her up, but hesitated. He looked back at me and said, "hand me a towel and call 9-1-1."
As I write this my arms are numb...the feeling of hearing those words will always haunt my mind.
I had NEVER called this number, and certainly didn't want to!
I grabbed a towel and then grabbed the phone.
I pushed...9---1---1. For MY daughter.
What had just happened?!?! She was only in her room for a minute, and only for 5 MORE MINUTES! She was fine, everything was fine...and then in a SECOND, it all changed!!! Please God! NO!
I told the operator what had happened and the ambulance was on it's way. We lived 30 minutes from the hospital at the time...and the wait for the ambulance seemd like eternity.
As I hung up the phone, I saw that Chris and Anna Lee weren't in her room anymore. I looked around and saw him sitting on the couch, holding her in his arms---a towel over her face. My eyes met his, and my eyes spoke the words, "Is she ok?" He just looked at me...and I knew what he meant.
I could see the blood leaving his face.
Lord, Chris, you've got to hang on! We need you now!
I ran outside to look for the ambulance...it had seemed like forever since I had made that call!---Nowhere in sight.
I went back inside. Chris was still holding our daughter. I went over to them and gently paced around...Anna Lee had been so quiet throughout the last minutes. No words, no sounds. And she looked at me..."What did I do mama? What's wrong?" she said. Oh my dear, sweet baby... tears rolled down my face. Then she said words I will never, ever forget..."mama, please don't cry...when you cry it makes me cry." That was it! My strong baby had not shed a tear! She was looking at me for guidance, I had to be stronger! She was being so strong.
I cleared up my tears and smiled...I replied, "Oh Anna Lee, I know...it's going to be ok."
I was startled when I heard the knock on the door. Finally!
The paramedics came in and did the usual questions, etc. I saw one of them go over to Chris and lift the towel from her face. He put it back on. That was it. He didn't say anything about it. Then it was just hurrying and getting some clothes for...the hospital. My Lord in heaven I thought, and I heard the movie still playing in the distance.
We headed for the ambulance, but on the way out the door I noticed something...it was "big Baby". This was Anna Lee's most prized possesion...this big baby doll, with no clothes on, just laying there, I knew it would comfort her, and I grabbed her. I also grabbed my keys and headed to the car. Chris was getting Anna Lee into the ambulance. I just stared, blankly. He came out of the back of the ambulance and said. "I'll drive, you ride with her..." He knew I was in no position to drive...he knew. As he was climbing out of the back, he took my hand...he looked deeply into me eyes, and said, "mom, be strong." I knew what he meant. And I knew what to do...I squeezed his hand and climbed in.
That drive was the longest drive I had ever been on. I held our angel. I sang songs to her, we sang Jesus Loves Me . She began drifiting off to sleep. I held her tight. I looked to the paramedic sitting with us and he looked at me and just quietly smiled. I didnt' know what that meant. What DID that mean???
We pulled into the hospital and was greeted at the ER door by family members with fear in their eyes. I stayed within an inch of my daughter as we were wheeled down the hall toward a room. I sat in that room holding Anna Lee, not crying. She just looked at me, dreary eyed, but NOT crying.
Nurses came in one by one and pulled the towel back to see underneath, and they looked at me one by one...some patting my leg, some smiling, some just leaving the room. Then one nurse came in and raised the towel. The towel fell. I had not seen what was unerneath until this point. My little angelic face.
My heart stopped beating, or maybe it was just beating so fast, that I couldnt' feel it.
Her face had been severed by the glass of the cabinet.
Chris later told me that there was a large peice of glass in her face when he pulled the cabinet off of her. When he pulled the glass out of her face, her face fell open.
The laceration started under her eye, I mean right up to the bottom of her eye without touching her actual eye. It was as if, God himself had put his hand down and said, "that's enough."And it extended down her face and through her top lip. Her face was hanging open straight to the bone.
I couldn't breathe.
I asked a family member to take her for a minute, and I got down from the bed. I told her I would be right back...I left the room quietly. But the minute I stepped into the hall, I broke into a million pieces!
What had happened? Why!
If only...IF ONLY!!!! If only, I had let her come out when she asked...what did those 5 more minutes really mean!!!!
I went back to the room, but held back the tears. I took her in my arms.
The nurse said, "it'll only be a few more minutes until surgery..." WHAT???? What are you saying! Surgery! Just sew her up...and we'll go home.
The doctor came into the room and took me and my husband out in the hall. He told us that it would take more than stitches for this...she was cut 'through and through', to the bone. They prepped my angel for surgery and we walked with them as they wheeled her to the double doors of the surgical unit. I watched as they wheeled her out of sight.
Please, let me take her back home and start over!
Just give me those five minutes back!
The doors closed and I fell into my husbands arms.
Yes, I was crying.
It was almost 3 hours later when the waiting room phone rang. It was ok to come back to see her now. I ran down the hall and over to her bedside. She looked good. Better. Her face was sewn and stapled but it looked clean. There was a tiny "v" shaped cut underneath her eye and then a straight long cut down her face. She had multiple smaller cuts around her hairline and forehead. She was asleep...and I was holding her hand, quietly letting the tears roll of my cheeks.
There was a series of tests, cat scans, MRI's, etc. to make sure there was no further internal damage from the heavy fall. Thank you God, there was not.
The next few days were heart-wrenching. Although we were out of immediate danger, it was still a road that I never wanted to be on. The morning after surgery, I had fallen asleep in a chair next to my daughter's bed, and I was awakened by a mumbling sound. I jumped up when I realized it was Anna Lee...trying to speak. Her face was completely swollen. The surgery and the lacreation itself ahd caused her face to swell to the point she couldn't speak or see out of her left eye. She didn'tknow what had happened or why she was like this. She was simply trying to tell me she needed to go to the bathroom. I helped her up.
Friends and family flooded in to see our angel. We were so thankful. This helped the time pass by and warmed our hearts. Anna Lee had been in the hospital for 3 days, she had gone through surgery, test, swolleness, so much for a young five year old. She simply laid in her bed, she didn't move much and she couldn't speak. I really don't know why...my once, energetic, lively, spry, little girl was very different. It was hard to see this change in her.
My brother walked into the room that afternoon, carrying a card and a silly little bear that played a funky tune when you mashed its hand. He handed it to her, their eyes met. He squeezed its hand and the tune started to play. SHe looked at him and began to wiggle her shoulders as if to dance a childlike little dance. We all looked in shock at this display. My brother squeezed the hand again, they danced together.
She was back.
We all looked at each other without speaking a word.
My brother stepped out of the room. I followed him. I found him in the next empty room just staring out the window. My strong brother that never cried---a tear rolled off his cheek. I hugged him but didn't say a word...none was needed.
We both knew. It was a tear of sorrow but also of joy.
We returned home, with our precious daughter. There were cards waiting for us in the mailbox, from friends, family and strangers. These helped. There was a time of recovery. My daughter had a scar on her face. For that I was terribly sad, but so very thankful that I could still hold her, even with that scar.
I could hold her.
I went to her room to pick up what we had left in such a hurry. To clean up the memory of that night.
It had been cleaned.
My brother and future wife had cleaned it up for us...thank the Lord.
It was an eerie feeling when we stpeed in that room. The cabinet pulled to the side and the belongings laid inside. I looked at it, just standing there, thinking. And them I saw something. Through the many treasures that had fallen onto the floor that night,smothered underneath the cabinet with my Anna Lee, was her precious little bible. It was a gift at her birth; covered in white eyelet cloth. I noticed that the pure white cloth had blood on it---From the night of the accident.
This was the only item that had any blood on it. The only one.
I took it in my hand and held it. Just like the purest child ever sent to Earth, Jesus...He had once been covered in blood...this little white (pure) bible was covered in blood.
"Just 5 more minutes"...is that what God had wanted? Had he wanted just 5 more minutes of his only son? What does just 5 minutes mean????
It could mean---a lifetime---an ETERNITY.
"For God so loved the world, that HE gave his only SON, that whoever believes in him, shall NOT PERISH, but...have everlasting life." John 3:16
Wow...what a message.
My daughter, Anna Lee is 19 years old. (I attached 3 pictures of her at the beginning of this post: #1-Easter, one week before #2-the day we came home from the hospital #3-age 18 her Senior year of high school.) You can barely see the scar that was left on her face. The doctor had talked of further reconstructive surgery on her face and such...but throught the years, she was healed---almost.
There is still a scar.
But she is here. And she is still beautiful...her face is unique, a memory of a time where we all learned, every minute counts-choose wisely...
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his WOUNDS WE ARE HEALED."
for now, These are My Thoughts.