Eight years ago, about this time of day, I got a phone call from our son Jared who was at the sugar bush where the guys were working. He said there had been an accident and that Dad was hurt but awake and talking. The ambulance was there and they were waiting to hear which hospital was going to take him.
Once I knew where they were taking Fred, I headed to the hospital to meet him. Truth be told, I drove down anticipating a long ER wait for a bit of a bump on the head. When I pulled into the Emerge parking lot, then needed to exit because there were no spots and didn’t have the change to get out, I started feeling rattled. And then when the ER nurse met me and asked if I was alone, all flags went up and a surrealness settled into my awareness. She vacated a quiet room and there a doctor met with me. I remember his words – “Your husband is gravely ill.” The tree that Fred had paused to fell at the end of the day because it had a dangerous looking broken section higher up had indeed been dangerous. The broken tree slammed into his head just as he was turning to walk on. His forehead was laid open and his face was smashed. The pressing question was whether his brain was injured.
Fred was transferred to a larger city hospital where we learned that though there was some minor swelling to his brain, there was not damage to it. A week after the accident, he underwent facial reconstructive surgery and two days later was discharged home. Within the month he was out doing what he loves – making maple syrup.
While I don’t remember praying (maybe “Oh God”?), I do remember, not only being surrounded by “our people”, but even being carried by them. Fred’s complete recovery left me both grateful and guilty. Why should we be so “lucky”?
I have friends who have lost their husbands, whose “prayers weren’t answered”. I am sometimes uncertain how to express gratitude to God for my husband’s being alive when I know that my friends’ husbands are not. I truly am grateful – don’t get me wrong – but sometimes it seems random rather than the result of answered prayer when things work out. I know that God’s ways are higher. I know that there is a bigger picture. I know that in dying there is hope. I even believe that God is good. But, I don’t know why there seems to be intervention in one place and not in another.
So, here I am, my heart welling up with gratitude that Fred’s story wasn’t cut short eight years ago. My heart is also filled with sadness as I grieve alongside a friend whose marital status has changed from married to widowed. I think that both gratitude and sorrow are held by the same Hands. The longer you live, the more opportunity there seems to be to sit with, and make room for, unanswered questions.