When Something You Trust Lets You Down

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I’ve walked down this ramp hundreds of times over the past six years.

 It’s the entryway to our family room that used to be our garage…………………before Nick got terribly sick.

We designed this room so that Nick could travel easily in his wheelchair from the main part of the house to this little retreat area.

A room where he could get away from all the visitors and the busyness of our family and just have a quiet place to spend time and read or watch television.

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This ramp is part of our house that is extra special to me.

When new people come to visit, it’s easy to share about Nick without seeming like I’m just trying to bring up our past; because the ramp almost demands an explanation.

Kids love it.

They roll down it.

They crawl up it.

I’ve always thought of this ramp as Nick’s continual gift of entertainment to all of our future friends with kids and future grandchildren.

I love this carpeted ramp that bridges the gap between our old life and our new.

But Saturday night, this ramp (combined with a large load of laundry) became the beginning of an extremely painful and unexpected journey for me.

The carpet, which has worn down over the years, can be extremely slick if you’re not careful.

I guess being cautious was far from my mind as I moved from the laundry room to the family room carrying an over-filled basket of Olivia’s clothes late Saturday evening.

I had decided to fold the laundry downstairs, so I could finish watching a movie with Tim and Olivia.

Before I could announce, “Last load!!” I found myself slipping, trying to regain my footing but losing my balance, then toppling sideways, landing on the side of my face at full force.  My arms didn’t even have time to let go of the  laundry basket and reach out to soften the blow as I hit the linoleum-covered concrete floor.  I’ve never felt such an impact on my head in my entire life.

The next few hours are a blur.  I know I screamed as I reached up and felt  my eye, realizing it had swollen to nearly the size of a tennis ball within a split second.  I  know I cried….a lot.  Olivia cried, too, as she saw me fall and then watched me sit up with an immediate injury.   I remember Tim jumping up from the couch and saying all kinds of things to try to calm me down.  I felt so much pain.  I felt so embarrassed.  I felt so mad at myself for being so careless.  I felt so scared.

Somehow Tim and our dear friend Martha, whose house Tim took me to immediately after getting ice on my eye, calmed me down enough to convince me that I needed to have my eye looked at by a doctor.

I didn’t want to spend my night in the emergency room, but Martha made it clear that I had no choice.

Thankfully, she called ahead and told them we were coming.  She explained my injury so that our arrival was at least expected.

Lying in the catscan machine in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I blinked away tears as I thought of all the times Nick had done this very thing with such courage.  I wanted to cry.   I wanted to tell the technician my whole life story.  I wanted her to know that all my tears weren’t because of my injury.  I wanted her to know this machine meant more to me than she could see with her own eyes.  But I didn’t say a word.  Instead, I remained motionless like she had asked me to and held in all my emotion, because in that moment I knew one thing with great certainty:

Life goes on. 

Technicians take care of people every day, and I was just another person who needed medical attention.

So Saturday night, I became the next patient.

The next person to have a freak accident and need to be examined for any unseen injuries.

To the hospital employee I was just patient number “who knows what,” but in my heart I was mom of Olivia who needed me at home to help her finish packing for camp (thank you, Donna, for taking my place Saturday night so she wouldn’t be alone) and mom of Erich, Mallory, Evan, and Todd, who didn’t even know I was hurt yet, and mom of Nick who had proven over and over again that catscans aren’t that scary.  I was also wife of Tim had already been through a very long day traveling back from a conference in Washington, D.C. and who was preaching at our church the next morning for Father’s Day; but at this moment was leaning his head against the wall in an emergency room trying to stay awake while he waited for me to return from the procedure.

All this danced through my head as I waited for the scan to end, but as far as the technician was concerned I was just a quiet person who was in a lot of pain.

So I smiled and held ice on my eye as she wheeled me back to the room where Tim waited, and we talked about her evening schedule.

Eventually, the doctor returned to my room, smiling and announcing that I had no fracture.  My injury was limited to soft tissue swelling.  With this good news, which was a great relief, we headed back to our house at 3:30 in the morning.

We walked right up the ramp that had caused our evening to turn upside down, and I told Donna the good news, hugged her, said good night, and headed to bed for a few hours.

I’ve thought about Saturday night many, many times since it happened.  It’s hard to forget something that hurts so badly and leaves such a visual reminder on your face.  I’ve tried to find humor in my injury.  I’ve even photographed myself with the enemy – my laundry basket.

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As a matter of fact, I’ve taken more selfies since this happened than I ever have in my whole life.

 I’d be lying if I said I’ve never wondered why in the world this had to happen, though.

I’ve talked to Tim about this very question, and here are his wise words,

“Sometimes in life we are busy doing good things, and we find ourselves falling flat on our face.”

So simple, yet so true.

It was just another day in my life as a mom.

I was trying to get Olivia repacked after an awesome week at CIY so that she could leave the next day for one of her favorite weeks of the summer – church camp.

I was doing what any other mom would have been doing that evening but somehow ended up writhing in pain.

So, the last few days I’ve tried to start a blog post.

I’ve tried to come up with some great analogy from my injury.

I’ve tried to find deep meaning in all of this.

But this is all I’ve got:

As we go through life, we will sometimes fall.

We will fall even when we’re not making bad decisions.

Life will hurt even we’re not taking risks or being adventurous.

Things will go wrong even when we’re trying to do everything right.

And sometimes the pain we experience won’t be able to be hidden from the world.

Sunglasses may cover our pain temporarily, but eventually we will take the glasses off and the world will see that life has gotten the best of us.

They will see our “black eye” and  learn that it came from something we trusted in as much as I trusted in our very special ramp.

In life, the things and sometimes even the people we trust most may be the very things or people that let us down in the most painful ways.

Life hurts.

Even when we’re trying to smile and celebrate things as simple and mundane as the last load of laundry.

So I guess the question is this:

What do we do when we land flat on our face?

What do we do when we realize we have been hurt by something or someone we trusted and the pain of the injury is impossible to hide?

I think we do what I’ve tried to do this week after such an embarrassing ordeal.

We get up.

We run for help.

We find out what we need to do next, and then we keep moving forward, trying to find a reason to smile even as we ache.

I’ve posted about my injury the past few days on Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve even posted photographs on Instagram.

But it feels good to finally be putting this whole ordeal into words.

I feel as if I’ve been released from the pain in some small way.

I’ve freed my mind to think about other things.

Things other than such an unexpected fall.

If you feel as if you’ve been let down by something or someone you trusted, please know you will make it.

You will survive.

You have the strength deep inside you to push through the hurt and walk again.

Hide behind sunglasses when you need to, but don’t be afraid to let the world see your pain.

People are nicer and much more understanding than you might think!

Smile in spite of your swollen eye or whatever it is that is distorting your view of this world.

Even with blurred vision, there’s still beauty to be found.

Thank you for all of your kinds words and prayers this week.

They mean more than you’ll ever know!

I love you all so much!

 

 

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