Moments of Conversion: Part 4
Sarah's Wreck and the Essay
Sarah's Wreck and the Essay
This must sound like a strange title for sure but get ready this is a really long one because I fully intend to post the entire essay I wrote during this experience at the end of the blog.
20 March 2005 (Last Sunday of Spring Break)
Just got out of night church, riding around with my buddy Lauren trying to find some trouble to get involved with because no coffee shops are ever open on Sunday night in this silly town. We ended up at a grocery store buying sugar-free icecream and as we are checking out I get a call from Sarah's dad's number. When I answer he says something about Sarah was just in an accident and didn't want to go into sugary without telling me. Then he doesn't leave any time for questions and I hear Sarah saying my name and telling me how much it hurts and she can't hear me at all. (BTW: I'm really freaking out!!!) The conversation is really short then Lyn gets back on the line and says they just took Sarah back. I'm asking what happened, is she okay, where can I meet up with them? And probably a string of other questions. The answers are short, the story will come later, again and again.
Lauren and I call a couple people, they already know, and we go to the hospital together. We went to her boyfriend's room first because he was conscious and wanted comfort. Just about all of the core Youth and Family ministry department was crowded around his bed. He was partially broken with a broken ankle and collar bone and a couple ribs or something like that. He recounted the story to us to the best of his memory which had already dotted out the traumatic parts. They were just headed out of town to go preach at a small church in New Mexico just about 2 and a half hours away. The highway was under construction and reduced to two lanes. A ford explorer sportrak was coming in the opposite direction and veered into their lane and hit them head-on, 50mph. Aaron didn't remember the hit or the rolling but when he came to he remembered Sarah crying out in pain and started singing Elvira to her because she hated the song and did the tiniest bit to distract her from the physical misery. He sang all the way to the hospital and in the ER all the way until the doctors separated them, Aaron to his own room and Sarah to the OR. The pain killers were really making him talk a lot and that was good because the YFM cult were very interested in hearing the details. I on the other hand was ready to see Sarah's family and find out about her condition.
So we went to the OR waiting area. There was the rest of the church. Truly, I remember feeling so grateful for both the school (responsible for Aarons many friends) and the church (for supporting the Meter family in this hard time). The room was a bustle, food was being brought up, Maegan and Chris had just gotten back from the break where they had just gotten engaged and so that bit of rejoicing was blended with the terrible condition of my friend. She was really broken and none of really knew to what extent. After many hours I got breakfast orders from her parents and promised to be back as soon as I got out of class. And for the next week and some I lived every moment at that hospital. I spent many nights there, and many days. If I wasn't at work or in class I was sitting with Lyn and Margaret.
Monday after the wreck, I got a call really early one morning asking if I would bring No Tangles spray with me when I got out of class because the doctors were saying if we couldn't brush her hair out and get the blood out of it they would have to shave all her hair off. I wasn't going to let any stupid doctor shave my Sarah's beautiful hair off that was for dang sure. So I was up at 7am driving all over town trying to find that stuff and some combs. I got to class late but it was just a missions class with that super cool professor (who by the way was very sympathetic to the situation and gave me as a student tons of grace on getting stuff in and graded my work in light of what I expressed my priorities were). This part of the story is the part that still moves me to tears when I think much about it. When I hear the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet and then turning around and dyeing for them even though they didn't really understand what he meant and what he was doing, I remember combing Sarah's hair. Her arms didn't work and she could just walk to the mirror and check out what a mess she was so she didn't really understand the gravity of the situation, which was really a good thing. She didn't know how serious the doctors were about shaving her head or what the day old blood manging her hair was like. But three of us set to careful work of brushing it out. We couldn't brush hard so it was slow going. But we made her beautiful again. This was a humbling experience. This is the most meaningful way I feel I have ever been able to serve anyone. I can't adequately express the full implications of this event but I will never be the same having cared from her from the threshold of death.
My friend did fully recover given enough time. We even got her to go camping that summer (she drove) and horse riding (check out my facebook for some of those pictures). She's as good as new (I haven't convinced her to try running again yet).
Okay, time for the essay. Here was the assignment: spend a day with someone who lives in what either they perceive or I perceive to be a "living hell" and write a paper on my experiences or reflections (something like that I don't remember the particulars). It was for the ethical Christian living class I believe and luckily it was being taught by the cool professor.
12 April 2005
A Look At Reality
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10.
What is a living hell? Beyond the gaze of my laptop screen is a small fish aquarium. My fish, Rachel, is frantically swimming against the plastic wall. I guess she wants in my bed because that is all that is on the other side of her tank. What she does not know is that on the other side of the tank is also air, not water. This means certain death to a fish. To a person this is prison with slim chance of escape, and all escape becomes is certain death. There is life in the tank, but not a life worth living. Rachel did have the companionship of Michelle, but she died last night, so Rachel is alone for the first time in three months. She is alone and trapped. I think she is hungry. I will feed her….
A long hard look at reality made me realize that all people are impoverished in some way and all people are blessed in some way as well. The course guidelines suggested looking for those whom are homeless, oppressed, or overlooked by society. I, however, not being one compelled to follow guidelines, looked around and saw despair, anguish, and great poverty in the lives of people in my realm of friends, family and even in myself. As I was trying to decide who was going to be the focus for my assignment I got a call from one of my fathers, Lyn Meter, saying my best friend, my sister, my Jonathan was in a terrible accident and needed to talk to me as she went into surgery. I watched her struggle through pain, surgery, pain, disorientation, pain, frustration, pain, and loneliness. I look at her life and see a living hell. But a closer look would quickly change my perception.
March 20, 2005, 9 pm, Room 341.
I arrived to see the “YFM cult,” as David Fraze affectionately referred to them as, gathered around an aching Aaron Scott’s bed making jokes and trying to ease the worry for Sarah. After taking in this warm scene, I found my way to the ER waiting area. I was greeted with a warm hug from Momma and Papa Meter along with so many of my other parents from Church. The whole community of believers that helped raise Sarah, myself, and several of our closest friends were all there to support and make the Meter family as comfortable as possible. Over the next week many more people flowed through the ICU waiting room to show their love and support. When I was permitted to see Sarah, her attitude was the biggest surprise, not her physical appearance. I expected her to be bruised and broken and I expected her attitude to be similar. I expected to see her mad or at least upset but the love from the waiting room had evidently penetrated into ICU curtain 19. She lay awake at night in pain counting her many blessings. Almost every night we had family bible story reading. Being amongst these people, these Christians, in crisis I felt like Jesus was physically sitting beside me or walking around with Lyn handing out food to others trapped in our humble waiting room.
Some Stories: Monday morning, March 21, I called Margaret and got her breakfast request and she requested a comb and No Tangles spray. We had to comb Sarah’s hair out or else they would have to shave her head. My thoughts were racing. Nobody was going to cut my Sarah’s hair off. I went to the store before my eight AM class and raced as soon as class was over to the hospital SICU. Combing her hair humbled me to a level of brokenness like that of Mary when she poured oil on Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair (John 12:1-8). What I did was not planned and only cost me the price of a comb and tangle spray. But beyond that it cost me heartache and tears that still flow when I remember my hands covered with the blood that was matted in her hair. I did not cry because of her immense pain, and if I were it would not have been wrong, but instead I was crying because I felt so blessed to be able to serve her in such an intimate way.
Next Story: Sarah was moved to the Burn ICU Saturday, March 26. The next morning, Easter she told me she was expected to move to a private room later that day and requested we watch Napoleon Dynamite. So it was, when I returned that afternoon she had her own room and with many visitors we enjoyed Napoleon. Unfortunately, about halfway through the movie she gave out. She lost all energy and was miserable in pain and fatigue. We read Ruth and after that I was miserable for her. She needed quiet time and no people to entertain so we disappeared.
Regrettably it has been like this and getting progressively worse every night since then. Monday night I did a Patch Adams routine trying to cheer her to no avail. The other nights we have just watched her slip into increasing pain as the night neared. By nine it appears almost unbearable and that is when we typically leave.
It was so amazing to see her get off a bed and wheeled out of her room, prison, for the first time in a week and a half. She sat in front of a window and watched the clouds and felt the sun for the first time in what felt to her like an eternity. She described her actions like that of a little kid. She was entertained with simple pleasures for about three hours I was told.
When asked what the worst part about her hospital experience, Sarah expressed how concerned and attentive all the hospital staff as been to her (already four nurses have passed by and all know her by name and are asking how she’s feeling today). “That is not what I asked,” I tell her. Then she explained to me the monotony of having to lie all day for days with no change of scenery and without the ability to do anything. She would get restless and could do nothing but endure it and watch time tick slowly by. The worst experience was Sunday, March 27th. It was her first night in her own room. She was beginning to be able to move more but still unable to do anything alone. She awoke around four in the morning, from a very vivid dream. In the dream she had gone home and she was so happy to be home. She woke disoriented and no doubt very upset and alone. This was the worst. This made the hospital a prison.
I do not know what Sarah would define living hell as, but I know I cannot lie in a bed even ten minutes without wanting to roll or move in some way. Sarah has to lay for days with only minimal movement with the assistance of others. She cannot go for a jog with me, shop with other girl friends, or even hug those who come visit her. She has not seen her boyfriend in a week and has only spent a few minutes a day on the phone with him during this time. Sarah would probably agree that her hospital room 323 is a lot like a small fish tank with a synthetic plant (the plant is analogous to her mechanically altered diet). One of the days she was in SICU, she complained to her dad that she was frustrated at not being able to do ANYTHING for herself, not even breathe. And I could not think of anything she did entirely by herself.
Who is to say if Sarah is trapped in a living hell or not, aside from Sarah herself and I believe she would spurt off her many blessings in denial of anything inconveniencing her. She would compliment the nursing staff or persistently thank the masses for visiting. She would be grateful for caring professors working out ways to complete classes this summer and overjoyed to recount her earlier excursion through the hospital through it causes overwhelming pain.
I look at Sarah and can only imagine the pain she is experiencing. But she exhibits such an encouraging determined attitude that I cannot help but praise God every time I see her struggle. Coming away from the hospital, I would not describe her situation as a living hell, instead as living. A long hard look at reality made me realize that all people are impoverished in some way and all people are blessed in some way as well. I looked at her life and saw a living hell. But a closer look quickly changed my perception. I praise God for both sparing her life, for our friendship, and mostly the opportunity to serve someone I love. She praises God for all the wonderful things I take for granted, the sun, clouds, hospital staff, church family, and morphine.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” 1 Peter 4:12-13.
I think Sarah realized that Christ’s glory is being revealed now, through her suffering, because of her suffering, and in spite of her suffering. If she had made it to Hobbs for the internship, God would have been glorified. The family of believers has come together to reveal the glory of God. And Sarah glorifies God for sparing her life, for her Christian family, and for a million blessings revealed through this tragedy. There are many hellish aspects amid Sarah’s suffering and struggles, but she has decided that it is not a hell. To the outsider looking in, it may appear to be so. But a closer look would quickly change their perception.
thanks for reading my long sad story. That's crazy loving or morbid of you to actually read that whole story.