Holding Them Both

Monday morning I feel Chad slip out of bed and I hear the bathroom door quietly close. At the sound of the running shower, I open one eye and peek at the clock beside the bed.


I bury myself under the warm covers and listen to the sound of the shower, relishing the final moments of warmth before my feet will hit the ground for the day.

A few moments later Chad emerges from the bathroom and stands beside the bed. I’m going back to bed, he tells me. I was up for hours last night.

What? Why? I ask him.

As I climb out of bed and he climbs back in, he says simply, I couldn’t get out of my head how close Charlie came to dying.

In the darkness I nod my head knowingly. There is nothing to say. I understand. I’ve spent many hours there, too.

Three weeks ago today, we got the kind of call every parent dreads: Charlie was in an accident.

While in the hospital, the doctor tells us, Charlie has a fracture that runs from the very top his skull, behind his eye, around his nose, to the bottom of his skull. The fracture, the doctor tells us, stops just before his carotid artery.

Breathe, I tell myself as this news is revealed to us. Just breathe.

Three weeks later, we are still replaying that day in our minds. The “what-if’s”, the “could-have-beens”, the “almosts”.

We have processed the accident a lot. Chad and I have mulled it over, talked about it, thought about it, talked honestly and tearfully about how close we came to losing our boy. The image of the mangled car is seared in our memories. Three weeks later, when I drive by a small red vehicle, my breath catches in my throat.

I can’t unsee the car.

Chanelle overheard our discussion one day and questioned why we are even talking about it. He didn’t die, she said, so you don’t have to think about it.

Easier said than done.

The thing is, we are very aware of the miracle it is that Charlie escaped that accident with only the injuries he has. We know the gift we have been given to have more days with him. We know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are living a miracle.

And even as I hold this gift in one hand, I can’t not know that so many don’t have the story we have. So many bury their loved ones. So many don’t get the miracle. So many have to put the pieces back together after a tragedy, not just muse about the ‘what-if’s’.

In one hand, we hold the miracle and feel immense gratitude for it.

In the other hand, we hold endless questions: why do some survive and so many others do not?

While we were in the hospital, we prayed for Charlie. While we were in the hospital, I am sure that hundreds of people were praying for Charlie. We felt incredibly supported. We felt so loved.

When we returned home we said prayers of thanks for his return. So many people celebrated alongside us. Well meaning people celebrated with us saying things like “God is good!”.

I believe it. I do. I believe God is good. But something inside me couldn’t help but recoil a little.

In my other hand I carry to stories of all those who didn’t get the miracle. Inside I asked myself, Would God still be good if our story turned out differently?

Maybe it’s having buried a loved one after endless prayers. Maybe it’s having watched tragedy after tragedy in my family growing up. I’m not sure what it is, but I can’t help but carry the light with heavy, the miracle and the tragedy, the joy and the sadness.

Yes. We believe God is good. Always.

Yes. We grieve with the endless tragedy that life brings our way.

We hold them both.

Recently, I read the following Blessing for the Brokenhearted, by Jan Richardson:

Let us agree
for now
that we will not say
the breaking
makes us stronger
or that it is better
to have this pain
than to have done
without this love.
Let us promise
we will not
tell ourselves
time will heal
the wound,
when every day
our waking
opens it anew.
Perhaps for now
it can be enough
to simply marvel
at the mystery
of how a heart
so broken
can go on beating,
as if it were made
for precisely this—
as if it knows
the only cure for love
is more of it,
as if it sees
the heart’s sole remedy
for breaking
is to love still,
as if it trusts
that its own
persistent pulse
is the rhythm
of a blessing
we cannot
begin to fathom
but will save us

Charlie met with all his doctors this week. He is doing well. He feels great. We are so thankful that he is here. We are so sad that this happened. We are full of joy that he emerged from the wreckage. We grieve with him that his snowboarding and soccer future are up in the air.

We hold them both.

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