When I brought my firstborn home from the hospital, I taped a poster next to the changing table that had visual instructions of how to change a diaper, how to give a bath, how to take care of the umbilical cord. For the next few weeks, every single time I had to do one of those things I would study that poster as if it held the secrets of the universe.
When my firstborn was a few months old, he stubbed his toe, jumping in a jumping chair. I bawled my eyes out. I was devastated by his little injury.
Forward 21 years . . . I was preparing to teach a class, (for a homeschool co-op), my husband was home from work, and Sean, our 16-year-old was leaving to go for a bike ride. Sean wanted to be a bike racer and frequently went on training bike rides.
My husband is a first responder and firefighter and wears a pager. We heard the pager go off about 15 minutes after Sean left for his training ride, stating that a bicyclist had been hit by a vehicle. My husband knew it was where Sean was planning on riding, so he shot out of his chair and was out the door, yelling, “Try to contact Sean on his cell phone.”
I called and called, sent message, after message. Then I got a call from my husband.
“It’s Sean. Take the girls to Gail’s and meet me at the hospital.”
I called my friend, Gail and took the girls to her house. I tried to reach our son who was with his track team. I met my husband at the hospital and was told that Sean would be medevacked to Hurley in Flint. I held Sean’s hand as they wheeled the stretcher to the helicopter. I could have sworn, Sean was squeezing my hand as hard as I was squeezing his.
“It’s Mom, I’m here with you, I’m here with you,” I kept repeating to Sean.
My husband and I drove down to Flint from Mt. Pleasant. As we did so, I called my mom who lived only 20 minutes away from Flint, asking her to go to the hospital, and to call my sister and brother-in-law who lived in Grand Blanc and ask them to go to the hospital as it would take us at least an hour and a half to get there.
During this entire time, calmness descended upon me. I was completely calm and at peace and an amazing strength came upon me.
The calmness stayed as my friend Leah called and asked Rich if we wanted her to drive the kids down (by this time we had gotten a hold of our son with the track team and he was home) and without thinking, I just said, “Yes, bring the kids down, have them prepared to spend the night, and yes, bring clothes for us.” Then I told her where to find our necessities. I was making decisions without wavering, without even thinking, again, it was as if someone else was talking and walking through me.
Our eldest son and wife came from Monroe. Family members started arriving. Friends started to arrive. Through it all, I remained by Sean’s side, thinking in my mind—I need to be with him as much as I possibly can, I might never get to be with him on this earth again. I continually sang to him and touched him.
People were wailing when we were told the news that Sean was brain dead. I was calm.
I remained calm during the planning of the events—donating Sean’s organs, planning the visitation and memorial service. I remained calm when I spoke at the memorial service. I spoke, my husband spoke, and our children spoke—we were all calm. When I look at the video (a friend of ours took it and posted it on YouTube so people who weren’t able to get to the service could see the service), I see again the hand of God at work, there is no other way to explain the power and peace emanating from us.
This past year, I was describing this experience to some friends. We were all talking about a time when we were brave, and I said, this was my time, but it wasn’t my braveness as I felt like I was literally being picked up and carried.
Sean went to a few local youth groups, and a youth pastor came to the hospital with his dad, who was the senior pastor, to pray with us. The youth pastor did a sermon this past year that a friend sent me—in it, he talked about how he would hope to respond the way I did if he were ever in a similar crisis. When I heard him, I thought, But that wasn’t really me—that was God, carrying me.
I’ve had people tell me how strong I am. I usually just nod my head.
Inside, I think, No, I’m not strong—I have been beset by anxiety and fear—that is God carrying me.
I remember reading the book, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. She was in a Nazi concentration camp. She relayed a conversation she had with her father when she was very young, wondering how she would be able to endure if she ever had to go through a difficult time. Her dad told her that when they rode the train, he held onto her ticket until she needed it, then he gave it to her. He said that’s what God does with His grace. He gives it to us when we need it, at the time we need it.
I have experienced this. God gave me His grace, just when I really needed it. He gave me His strength at the time I needed it.
I sit here writing this, crying, feeling such pain. I’ve been here before. I’ll be here again—in a state of utter pain. It still hurts to remember the events of that week.
However, when I remember, I remember being in that state of grace where I was wrapped in the presence of God, the One who has promised to never leave (Hebrews 13:5). He now holds my Sean, and death does not hold Sean. Our Lord has overcome death and sin (1 Corinthians 15:57).
I am encouraged when I remember these things. I am encouraged, knowing that when I need His grace, He will be there, He will show up. He has promised this grace to us. He has said, “ . . . My Grace is sufficient for you . . .” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I am here to say, “Yes, during the worst times of your life—His Grace is enough. He is enough.” So, be encouraged.
Originally published on the author’s blog