Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My brother in laws accident

Our family has recently gone through a major life changing event. A week and a half before Christmas, on Sunday December 15th around 5:45 am, we were awoken by a call from my mother in law. We know if she is calling this early that it can't be good news. We were informed that my 18 year old brother in law was in a car wreck in the early hours of the morning. He suffered from a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma. As soon as we were sure people from Noahs work were awake, we began making phone calls trying to get Noah and I on the soonest plane to Alaska that we could. None of the airlines had very many flights opened since it was Christmas time and every airline that did have tickets were not willing to do bereavement flights. We finally made the decision to just send Noah because we could not afford to spend $3,000 dollars on tickets, ($1500 a piece) and the only return flight they could get for both of us was after Christmas and after all we were going through I could not bare the thought of leaving my kids at home with out us for Christmas. Landon had been diligently counting down the days until Christmas and I felt this giant hole in the pit of my stomach when I thought about not being with my kids for Christmas. 

Noah ending up leaving just 2.5 hours after his ticket was bought. We went through a lot of fuss at his work about this. They wanted him to wait until the next day, (when it was not a weekend day.) They told him that if he did not come in to sign and submit his leave that he could be considered AWOL. This was very disappointing to us to see his work be so unwilling to lend a hand in our time of need. When Noah's Dad died in 2009 (click here to read about Kurt)  his work in Vegas bent over backwards to help us in any way possible, this was definitely a different work environment for us. Noah was finally able to get a hold of his boss and was given the go ahead to leave (he was already on the plane at this point.) I remember dropping him off and bawling my eyes out on the drive home. I kept having to wipe my tears away so that I could see where I was going. I took a wrong exit and ended up taking a longer way home then I planned on. Noah called at one point on my drive home to tell me that they found a fracture in Keyns neck and this did nothing to help dry my tears. I felt like the flood gates that had been working so hard to keep the tears away, finally could not handle it anymore and just burst open. I had been trying so hard to be the strong one for Noah, but Noah was gone and I was alone and their was no one around that I needed to be strong for.
I picked up the kids from a friends house and tried so hard to hide my tears. I did not want them to be scared or confused. When we got home I sat down with them and talked to them and cried with them. I don't think they really understood, or still really understand what is going on. 

That night and on into the next day I felt very numb and dark inside. I wanted so badly to be there for my husband and sister in laws and mother in law. I wanted to be there to hold them and to cry with them and to just be a part of the decision making. I wanted to be there for Keyn and his girlfriend. I talked to my sister in law on the phone on the way to take Noah to the airport and when she told me she wanted me there I thought a giant hole had been ripped open even bigger deep inside of me. I felt like I was betraying his family by not going. I wanted to be there for them but I also wanted to be there for me. I wanted to see Keyn and to talk to him and to let him know how much I loved him. I wanted to be around all the people who loved Keyn and just be able to cry with them. I didn't want to deal with day to day things, like fixing lunch and taking the kids to school and breaking up fights and go on living life like nothing was wrong.

 Monday went by in a giant blur, I don't remember much that was happening. I let the kids stay home from school and they basically ran around with free reign. I had a friend come over and keep me company but it did not do much to dispel the darkness that seemed to be taking over my insides. I got more phone calls from Noah letting me know how Keyn was and any new news they had. We were told that when they found Keyn on the scene of the accident that on the Glasgow Coma Scale Keyn was a 3 (the worst rating, 15 being the best). We also found out that he was not wearing a seat belt and they had hit a patch of black ice and ran into a pole while driving to get a late night meal from Taco Bell. The driver and 2 other passengers sustained much less severe injuries. The friend sitting next to Keyn, who was in the vehicle on the side of impact, broke his pelvis. The pole went into his side of the vehicle and should have killed him, they think that what saved him was Keyn pulling him out of the way. Keyns head flopped back and forth on the impact and his brain scrapped the top of his skull, something called sheering, which basically means it cut part of the brain away. He was bleeding from his ears and nose which was the immediate evidence of the sheering.

I put the kids to bed much later then usual and went downstairs and sat on the couch and bawled into a pillow. I thought about my brother in law and the life that he led. I thought about how many times Noah and I wished that we were there in Alaska to help out his family after his Dad died. I thought about what a great uncle Keyn was to our kids and how much they loved him. I thought about how many times Keyn would ask for mine and Noahs advice on things when we would visit. I thought about the adorable little boy who always wanted to hang out with me when Noah and I started dating. I thought about how lost and sad Keyn has seemed since their Dad died. I looked at pictures of him and the kids and just kept thinking about the future and how unknown it was for him. As much as I wanted him to be okay and to wake up from his coma, I just wasn't sure this would be the case. I thought about how young he was and how much of his life he still had ahead. I thought about his girl friend and how hard all of this must be on her. I cried until I thought I had no tears left and then I prayed my heart out. I asked my Father in Heaven for some peace. I told him that I did not know how I was supposed to go on with life as usually while Noah sat in a hospital watching his brother sleep. I told him that I did not know if I was strong enough for this. I wrestled with him over the thoughts that I had in my mind. I asked him why this? why now? what more can this family possibly take and still survive? I told him how much I needed one of my very best friends Kirsten, who lives in New Mexico. I just felt like I needed someone there to help me not get lost in my thoughts that were surely leading me to a much darker place then I already was in.

After I pleaded with the Lord to ease my ache and to ease the ache of my family members I called my mom to tell her the latest news on Keyn. Not even 5 minutes into the conversation I hear a knock at my door. It was nearly 11 pm and I had no idea who could be here at such a late hour. I opened the door and standing there with her two little girls and holding her new born baby boy was Kirsten. The tears started to flow again. My prayers of only a few minutes before had been answered. My dear friend drove for 17 hours with her 3 little ones in tow, the week before Christmas to come be with me. I don't think I have ever in my life been so happy to see some one standing at my door. Her oldest daughter told me that they came because thats what you do for family, and we were their family. I can not even begin to explain the love that I have for this family. We have been through so much together. Kirsten has become one of my life lines and I am so blessed to have her in my life. As soon as she got the phone call from me about Keyn and about my wanting to be there with them she offered to come watch my kids, so that I could go be there with my family. After this fell through she talked to her husband and told him that I was not able to get a ticket to go up there, he told her to "go". He said that I needed her and that he wanted her to come be with me. What a true blessing this family is in my life.

The next week was hard on both of us. I was still struggling with my feelings of wanting to be in Alaska, while we had 7 kids all 7 and under running around the house. Emotions were running high. As much as the kids all love and adore each other, being stuck in a house for days on end was wearing on them as it was with Kirsten and I. (We also were "blessed" with a major snow storm that left us home bound. And resulted in our van getting stuck in the drive way several times. Thankfully I had some guardian angels watching over me who came to shovel our drive way and walks several times.) There were silly little arguments and fights happening all over the place, but every night when it was calm and quiet, I would get lost in my thoughts and the darkness would start to slip back in I had Kirsten to turn to. She kept me sane. I think both of us were going insane with the kids, but truth be told Im not sure I would have survived the week with out her. I would take the craziness of our kids that week a million times more rather then going through that week alone. We sat up at night and just talked and I cried and she let me. I could not even begin to count the number of times that she and I have been their for each other just to be a shoulder for the other one to cry on. Kirsten used to live in Alaska, so she knew Keyn and Noah's whole family and having that person who knew them all first hand and cared about them too did so much to ease my heart and helped keep the darkness at bay. Noah came home the Saturday before Christmas and Kirsten left that Sunday. It was so hard to say goodbye to her. She is like a sister to me in every sense of the word except for blood relations. 

I grew so close to my Heavenly Father that week, and in the weeks since Keyns accident. I have felt a bond to him that I don't think I have ever really felt in such a deep and profound way. I knew with utmost certainty that he was aware of me and of the deep pleadings of my heart. He sent Kirsten to me before I even asked for her. I knew then, that without a shadow of a doubt that my Father in Heaven knew me. That he knew my brother in law and that he was watching over him. I felt such an overwhelming amount of peace when I just let the darkness go. When I turned my pain over to him and realized that I was holding onto fear. A fear of the unknown. A fear of what the future held for Keyn. A fear of the pain that was to come for all of us in the coming weeks. The fear and despair were feeding the darkness inside of me and when I gave that over to my Father in Heaven I felt such a brightness of peace and of hope came over me. I still did not know what the future would hold for our family. I had no idea if Keyn would wake up and what kind of life he would have if and when he did, but I did know that my Father in Heaven was also Keyn's Father in Heaven and that his love for Keyn was so much more than any of his earthly family could possible imagine. I knew that Keyn was surrounded by God and by his love. I knew that for what ever reason, our family was supposed to go through this trial. That what ever lay at the end of this path was more then any of us could ever comprehend at this time. 

It has been a month now since Keyns accident and he is still in a coma. He can move his head around and shakes his legs, Noahs oldest sister has named this act "crazy legs" because of how much they shake and move. He has opened his eye lids a little and will respond to questions people ask by squeezing their hands. He only does these things sometimes, and we think they are during moments when his mind is awake and not resting. We all talk to him and his sisters read to him. Noah tries to talk to him every night over facetime. They have put in a trache and a feeding tube and ended up shaving his head. I joke with him that he is not going to like it very much, because he has been in love with his hair for as long as I have known him. The last time I joked with him about this is moved his mouth like he was chewing something. This is the exact same thing Noah does when he sleeps, something I have teased him about for years because it literally sounds like he is eating a four course meal in his sleep. I almost wondered if he was trying to say something to me and when I told him he was doing the same thing Noah does in the middle of the night, he shook his head. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes because I felt so strongly that he heard me and was trying so hard to communicate. A friend of the family told us to start looking for signs of his communication. She said that since coma patients can't talk they have to find other ways to communicate and that Keyn had those patterns for communication we just had to figure out what they were.

 He looks so peaceful and thin and frail laying there in the hospital bed. I often wonder how much time he is spending talking to Heavenly Father and wondering how much he will remember when he wakes up. I wonder if he has seen his dad and has got to visit with family members who have passed away. I wonder if he is spending time learning things from Heavenly Father. I wonder if he is scared, trapped inside a body that won't work. Or if he even understands whats going on. We still do not know when he will wake up or what kind of life he will lead after he does. But what I do know is that God's love is infinite. There is no end to his power and his mercy and grace. He doesn't see us as random people, he sees us as his children. Noah said at one time while he was up in Alaska they heard the song, "He's got the whole world in his hands." And I can say that I firmly believe that. I don't know what stands in store for Keyn and for our family. I don't know what all the future holds for us, or what pain and heart ache is to come. But I do know that the Lord knows and I have faith in the him and part of that means having faith in his plan and in his timing. As long as I am willing to give that pain over to him, he is there willing to take it and he is there to hold me until I am ready to stand again. 
How beautiful that knowledge is.
How grateful I am for the peace that he brings to me when my insides feel so dark.

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