Remembering Moments Part 1

Christmas Eve - Advent activities
Christmas Eve – Advent activities

Remembering Moments Part 1 | Remembering Moments Part 2 | Remembering Moments Part 3 | Remembering Moments Part 4 | Remembering Moments Part 5 |Remembering Moments Part 6 | Remembering Moments Part 7

Suddenly, after eleven weeks, I’m ready to write about the accident and the days that followed. Some might think this isn’t the place, but to be honest, I’ve never been able to sustain a private journal, so it isn’t likely I’ll do it now. Many of you have been with me for a very long time, and writing to you always helps me make sense of things

Just last night Russ and I sat talking with dear friends. They moved here the same month we did, December 1999, and we met shortly thereafter. We can see their house from our windows, sitting high on the hill just to the east; our daughters blinked bedroom lights to communicate with one another. Their girls grew up with our older kids; Gretchen and Hannah became the most unlikely of lifelong friends. I’m tempted to launch into that story, but I’ll refrain – suffice it to say that Gretchen loved to go hunting and wear camo, while Hannah liked to read and bake pies.

Our friends love Kalkidan dearly, and in God’s amazing kindness, Gretchen (who lives in Idaho) was visiting Hannah in Minneapolis when Russ called from the ambulance.

Last night, over sharp cheese and red wine, Russ spoke of things I hadn’t yet heard, small details, but clearly, so much escaped me as I faded in and out of awareness. Russ, who doesn’t write for pleasure, bought a moleskin journal and began filling it in the days following our tragedy.  While He moved through the hours after the accident in a state of hyper-awareness, I have only a series of images, moments, and sounds.

This bothered me quite a bit; I felt that if I only thought hard enough I might find the hours and reclaim them. I was disturbed that time  had disappeared until a friend suggested that perhaps God was allowing me to remember what is necessary and good for the time, and if in the future I need to know more, the Holy Spirit will reveal it to me. I’m satisfied with that.

We planned to get an early start on Saturday, December 27th, so the evening before, we organized everything we needed. Kalkidan packed a bag of snacks and water bottles, and charged her ipod, which Samuel had helped her load with new Adventures in Odyssey and music. Earlier in the day she packed her duffle with no help from me, refusing my suggestion to make a list. I figured that if Kalkidan didn’t have something she wanted, it was a short visit, and the consequences would be small. My one concern was warmth, so despite some protestations, I grabbed a down coat, snow boots, and gloves, and added them to her supplies.

Russ had been watching the weather (which is what he does – given he’s a climatologist), and knew a snow storm was expected to arrive in the early afternoon. Thankfully, we were reasonably certain we could get to the MT border and back before it hit. Our plan, if the storm’s progress was slower than expected, was to drive to Spokane and have a date before heading home. Our alternative was to drive home directly after dropping Kalkidan off and have our date in town – without telling the older kids we were back. We intended to thoroughly enjoy our day off, one way or another.

Being from north Idaho, we’re experienced at preparing for winter driving. We packed a couple of sleeping bags, our snow boots, and Russ’ old coveralls, in case we got stuck on the road or he needed to help somebody out of a ditch. We had tools, tire chains, extra water, and food. Before heading north, we planned to drive into town and fill the gas tank. We’re careful about things like that.

Russ loaded the car as I poured coffee into travel mugs and Kalkidan grabbed a few last things. She had carefully wrapped gifts for friends in MT and was so proud of each treasure she had chosen. Kalkidan was aware that finding joy in giving gifts was a clear marker of the healing she was experiencing. With satisfaction, she spent money she had earned, and could hardly wait to give gifts to people she loved.

With the car (very slightly) warmed up, we headed downstairs and through the garage. Arriving at the car, Kalkidan was dismayed to find that Russ had placed things on the seat behind me and left the seat behind himself open for her. For some reason, she wanted to sit on my side. Sensing that this could turn into a problem and slow us down, I treated the matter lightly and said it was no problem to shift things around so she could sit where she wanted. It nearly never happened that Russ and I were in the car with only one child, so letting her choose her seat seemed simple.

Who could have known that such a small decision, a moment of very slightly shifting our plans, would change our lives the way it did. Only God – and we trust Him.

More soon.

Lisa

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

18 Comments

  1. Katie Nelson Bradshaw
    March 16, 2015

    I read this post this morning and have been pondering it all day. Such a loss of words. Please know that we continue to pray for your broken hearts. If I could send 1,000 hugs to you, I would! Love you friend!

    Reply
  2. Autumn
    March 16, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your story. As a newish reader, I have been praying as you have shared your grief. I would love to hear more about your sweet daughter. If writing it all out here helps in some way, then by all means, do it and we will listen, pray and send love across the miles. God's blessings on your family.

    Reply
  3. Laine
    March 16, 2015

    God bless you and your sweet family. Thank you for your courage in sharing. Your posts always inspire me and uplift me. Praying for your family.

    Reply
  4. Jodie H
    March 16, 2015

    Love you so much, Lisa. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    Reply
  5. Melissa Joy
    March 16, 2015

    Mrs. Qualls, thank you so much especially for this reminder: "Who could have known that such a small decision, a moment of very slightly shifting our plans, would change our lives the way it did. Only God – and we trust Him." Amen. Praying for you with tears in my eyes at this very moment… may the Lord in His mercy hear our prayer.

    Reply
  6. aprillcao
    March 16, 2015

    Lisa, I've been reading your blog for so many years I don't even remember when it began. I hope you don't mind me sharing this story with you.
    Six years ago when we traveled to Thailand to adopt our daughter, we were involved in a terrible car accident one day before leaving the country to fly home. We all walked away unharmed. The thing is, before we got in the car for a three hour drive, my husband and I discussed seating arrangements for our 4 year old son and new 22 month old daughter. No carseats were available to us and my first thought was to buckle our daughter in my lap. My husband vehemently disagreed and usually I would have argued with him (a mama knows best moment) but the Lord told me to listen to him and just. be. quiet. So I did.
    When our car hit a pothole on a Bangkok highway, we hit cars around us going 65 mph and then flipped over into a ravine, landing upside down where we were trapped until people who witnessed the accident stopped and came to our rescue.
    For a long time, even though we were safe, I questioned my choices and the choices I would have made on my own. I thanked God but for too long after, lived in a constant state of "what if". What if I hadn't listened to my husband? What if I hadn't been able to hold onto our girl who just sat on my lap with my arms wrapped around her? What if, what if, what if. Even though she was fine, I was horrified that I could have just as easily made a decision that could have seriously injured or killed her. It distracted me from the miracles and blessings laced through that day and horrible event.
    The thing is, Lisa, is that you knew what was best for your sweet girl in that moment and you did it. You considered her needs because that's what moms do. You made loving choices that had nothing to do with her passing away. God did that. He knew all of it. He gave you all peace during that car ride- in her final moments- because He knew they were coming. You and Russ have lived such hard moments with her. What a gift that you knew her well enough to avoid conflict. She spent that final drive anticipating joy and excited. You gave her that. God allowed that.
    I pray you forgive me if this doesn't come out right. I want you to know that your family has been in my prayers for years, a true sense of encouragement to me in our own difficult moments. You are loved and cherished by so many and your Kalkidan will always have a place in my heart.
    April

    Reply
    1. Heidi
      March 17, 2015

      Thank you for sharing that, April. It's so important to know that even though it may look like little decisions contributed to an outcome, they just as easily may not have, and though it's so hard not to overplay them and self blame, I truly hope you can, dear Lisa. Please, please know it's not your fault, it's not Russ' fault, it's simply something horrible that happened, that still could have happened regardless of the small choices you made along the way. And I echo your other reader as well, thank you for trusting us with your story, dear Friend.

      Reply
  7. Angela Crawford
    March 16, 2015

    Even though it may be hard to share and remember the events, it is very healthy!! I appreciate it because I know it isn't easy sharing yet it reminds me again of so much we have to be thankful for in our every day lives!!!

    Reply
  8. angela
    March 16, 2015

    thank you for having the courage to share. Perhaps your story will help others in unimaginable ways. I am not a very private blogger, either, I think that it is helpful to write. . .

    Reply
  9. Nicole
    March 16, 2015

    Praying for you and your family. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  10. Angela Arnett Stone
    March 17, 2015

    Thank you for sharing. We continue to pray for your family and healing.

    Reply
  11. Brenda T
    March 16, 2015

    What an incredible gift to be trusted with your very personal, raw emotions as you recall the events of that day. We, your readers, do not take this privilege lightly. Thank you for trusting us with your story, Lisa.

    Reply
  12. thandilocks
    March 17, 2015

    Thank you for sharing. God knew indeed. Just like He knew what would happen to Stephen. And as you work us through it all, we continue to pray that peace will flood you during and in the days and months to come.

    Reply
  13. Tami Heiss
    March 17, 2015

    Thank you for sharing. Somehow I stumbled across your blog right before I lost my 13 year old daughter in January. I was then stunned to read you had lost your daughter. Sorry for your loss and I think it is wonderful you are sharing. It will help you heal. Bless you.

    Reply
  14. Shari H.
    March 17, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your story here!

    Reply
  15. Kris
    March 18, 2015

    Lisa, knowing what is coming in your story is filling me with grief as I read. Our Lord is so gentle and merciful as He has allowed you to remember as you heal. Thank you for trusting us with your story. I love you and grieve with you my friend.
    Kris

    Reply
  16. Joelle
    March 18, 2015

    I'm struck by the enormity of trusting God for every small decision we make. Truly the mind of man plans his steps but God directs his ways. And God is sovereign over all the decisions and choices we make. Love you lots, Lisa. You are so precious.

    Reply
  17. Jen T.
    March 18, 2015

    All these precious details. I'm praying that they are helping you process and continue on the path of healing. We cherish your vulnerability, as always. Already full of emotion at part 1. It is a reminder to continue praying for your family!

    Reply

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