Remembering Moments Part 2

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It is simultaneously so hard, and so healing to write this. You can find the rest of the story here:

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

We stopped briefly at the bottom of the driveway while I put a stack of Christmas cards in the mailbox. After driving one mile into town for gas, we turned and headed north, up Highway 95, toward Coeur d’Alene and I90.

Kalkidan snuggled into her fleece blanket, popped in her earbuds, and most likely began listening to a new Adventures in Odyssey, or possibly music, we’re not sure. I sent a text to our friend, Kristen, to let her know we were on our way and would meet her at the border in three hours.

There was 1/2 inch of snow on the road, just enough to prompt Russ to be cautious, but not enough to be concerned. The roads seemed fine, although we drove more slowly than normal just to be careful. Russ and I took in the beautiful scenery of the snow-dusted rolling hills of the Palouse; it was a beautiful morning. With Kalkidan content in the backseat, it seemed that our special date had already begun.

I remember driving past the road to Potlatch, and a short while later seeing the simple, white church on the hillside where Noah and Katie were married. The car in front of us turned off into the rest area and we went on – and that’s actually the last thing I remember of the drive. We continued north through Tensed and beyond, but I have no memory of it.

There is a very tight curve on the road that I’ve cautioned my children about many times since they were old enough to drive that far from home. The first time I drove north on Highway 95, I noted a white cross decorated with a pair of drumsticks on the side of the road. It was there for many years and always made me think of the person who must have died there. I drove that area of the highway with respect for the curve in the road.

I don’t remember approaching the curve, but I know that Russ took it slowly. As we neared the end of the curve, we hit ice and lost traction, sliding across into the oncoming lane. Being the Saturday morning after Christmas, there had been very little traffic on the rural highway.  We should have slid off the other side of the road into the farmer’s wheat field, as many others have before – in fact, there were three more accidents at that very corner the same day. But that wasn’t to be.

My only memory is very brief, yet it’s nearly like slow-motion; I can see and feel it now as I write. I saw the other car approaching and realized we were going to crash into one another; I felt us sliding and the rear of the car pivoting. Strangely and thankfully, neither Russ or I felt any fear.  None of us cried out; we doubt that Kalkidan even knew we were about to collide. Then I heard the loudest, metal-on-metal, glass-shattering sound.

I woke to find our car lying on its side and Russ telling me that we had been in an accident. I saw the deflated air bag and shattered windshield in front of me. Russ was trying to open his door, pushing it upward toward the sky. My hip hurt terribly and for some reason I thought it was due to my seat belt, which I begged him to unbuckle. As he did, I fell slightly more onto the door.

It was then that I realized my right arm had gone out the now nonexistent window as we spun and rolled in the collision, and was trapped under the side of the car. I felt panic rise in me; I was very aware that I could fall apart or I could be calm. As the realization that I was trapped in the car became more clear, I chose to stay as calm as I could. It was the grace of God.

In the midst of this horrible and terrifying time, we felt God’s presence in a way we never had before. Russ and I both experienced an uncanny sense of peace. We were covered by a gentle weight, a softness,  that I believe was the presence of the Holy Spirit. Although I can’t say that I saw them, I have a sense that angels were with us.

Time passed, but I have no memory of it. I know from Russ that other drivers stopped and ran to help us. A few men forced the rear door of the minivan open and a nurse, who had been on her way to meet friends for their annual breakfast gathering, crawled in to help Russ check on Kalkidan. She initially thought she felt a heartbeat and instructed everyone that Kalkidan could not be moved until the emergency crew arrived. When she checked again, the faint heartbeat was gone, so Russ unbuckled her, carefully lifted Kalkidan out of her seat, and passed her back through the now open end of the minivan.

Russ threw sleeping bags on the ground and they laid Kalkidan down near the car, covering her with blankets to keep her warm. The nurse began chest compressions and instructed Russ to breathe for Kalkidan. Between breaths, Russ called out to Jesus, asking him to heal her.

My next memory is of opening my eyes again, and realizing that I was praying aloud the prayer I learned from Elisabeth Elliot many years ago and always find in my heart when words fail me, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” A man knelt down next to the car, I could only see his knees. He reached in the car, took my left hand in his, saying, “My name is Dan and I’m here with you.” I grabbed his hand, held on, and began praying again, “Lord Jesus Christ….”

The way I was pinned in the car, I could only see straight ahead of me, and the image is clear in my mind. Before me was dark brown dirt with bright green wheat sprouting up through it, a patch of white snow in the distance.

I heard Russ saying, “Come on, Kalkidan; you’re a fighter.” I could hear someone counting aloud and I realized what was happening. Shaking and crying, I asked the man, “Is that my daughter? Are they doing CPR on her?” “No,” he answered, “It’s someone from the other car.”

Later we learned that the name of the man driving the other car was Daniel. We’ll likely never know if he was the one who came to comfort me.

At some point I became aware of men’s voices talking about trying to lift the car off of my arm, but they decided the risk of me bleeding or being further injured was greater than leaving me where I was. Emergency crews were on their way from the south and the north, all coming to help us. They would know how to get me out.

Friends, thank you for letting me tell this story. My experience of fading in and out of awareness while still being conscious has given me a deeper understanding of our children who have experienced trauma. When they say they can’t remember events in their lives, or when memories are jumbled together, I completely understand. I suffered a mild traumatic brain injury from the impact, but I think it’s more than that. I believe the trauma overwhelmed my brain and perhaps I couldn’t process all that was happening.

I also believe it was God’s grace to me. Had I been completely lucid, terror and pain would have overwhelmed me, but I was covered by the calming presence of the Holy Spirit, and I am forever grateful.

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.

37 Comments

  1. Tara Bradford
    March 18, 2015

    Oh sweet friend, my heart weeps with you as I read this. Keep doing what you need to do in order to heal, we're praying for the whole Quall's family and God's precious love for you as you move forward together.

    Reply
  2. Angela Arnett Stone
    March 18, 2015

    Dear, my breathing slowed and paused as I read this with reverence and sorrow. I especially appreciate the connection to experiences children Who experience trauma have had. Prayers for your family.

    Reply
  3. Monique Mccardle
    March 18, 2015

    In tears Lisa. Thank you for sharing, continued prayers for peace and healing in both body and spirit.

    Reply
  4. Nicole
    March 18, 2015

    Speechless. You write in a way that I almost felt I was there while reading it. My prayers are with you. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
  5. WG
    March 18, 2015

    Lisa, my far-away friend…I'm holding still this morning and letting my tears flow for you. I'm allowing my own messy, snotty, sobs in honor of your story, your unthinkable loss. The reality of white churches and sleeping bags and a man's knees undoes me and brings me to my own knees on your behalf. God, I'm so sorry.
    I love you so much. I love your dogged determination to be both slain and expanded by loss, without minimizing the former for the latter. I really don't know how God's grace affords us the next breath, over and over, in the midst of trauma, but I'm grateful it does. I'm with you; I'm for you; I see you.
    Keep writing and we'll all keep witnessing.

    Reply
  6. Michaela McCoin
    March 18, 2015

    Tears… and prayers.

    Reply
  7. Sarah Bramblett
    March 18, 2015

    Lisa,
    I know this is healing to tell your story, and hard at the same
    time. Those of us who have experienced trauma understand
    those last comments. So true.
    I'm praying for you as you unpack this and remember. May that gentle
    covering continue to hold you:) Your precious daughter and
    Family have impacted so many. Thank you for sharing:))

    Reply
  8. Jen T.
    March 18, 2015

    Thank you, Lisa. We love you and we are praying for you. Thank you Lord that Kalkidan is fully healed and in the presence of Jesus.

    Reply
  9. blessed
    March 18, 2015

    I am so so so so so sorry, Lisa. We who love you are walking through this with you in prayer now. I am so glad you are writing it out, because I do believe it will be cathartic for you. But I'm so sorry you lived it at all. Yes we all know that God is really the author of your story–and I know He has the perfect endings.

    (((((hug)))))

    Reply
  10. Karmin
    March 18, 2015

    It's hard to know what to say here, except – thank you for making that very valid and insightful comparison in the last couple paragraphs. It gives me a new perspective. God really does make beauty out of ashes. And again, I am so sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  11. Melody
    March 18, 2015

    Thank you for giving us the privilege of supporting you and caring about you and your family. In sharing your journey over these many years, you have created a group of so many people, all over the country and world, who will continue to hold Kalkidan in our hearts.

    Reply
  12. Sandra
    March 18, 2015

    Oh Lisa and family. I am still so sad by your loss. I am always praying and praising. God is so good and i know that He was there with you through this all. We love you all so very much. Raskells

    Reply
  13. Emily B
    March 18, 2015

    Weeping as I read. You are so brave, Mama. And God is good.

    Reply
  14. gmburrahobbit
    March 18, 2015

    Lisa, thank you so much for sharing this heart-wrenching story. Writing it down–and sharing it–is difficult, but I know God will use it to help you heal. And know that there are many, many of us who were longing to know the details of what happened so that we could bear your burdens with you. Love you and your family so much. Praying, now and always!

    Reply
  15. Lisa
    March 18, 2015

    Tears as I read your story. I can't even imagine. Continuing to pray for your heart and for your whole family.

    Reply
  16. Mary Ostyn
    March 18, 2015

    ahhhhh…… grieving with you. Hugs….

    Reply
  17. Bekah Manderscheid
    March 18, 2015

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. It is completely by chance that I came across it. I was the camp director for Camp Kaleo, that Beza & Kalkidan attended a few years ago. I loved that girl, so full of life and joy, I'm glad to be able to say that I knew her. Praying for you and your family as you continue to heal through this event.

    Reply
  18. Leah Freeman
    March 18, 2015

    Tears and sorrow for you and your loss.

    Reply
  19. tisha
    March 18, 2015

    Tears streaming as I read this. Lisa, you are courageous and strong and generous to share these extremely sacred moments in your life with us. Thank you for, once again, allowing us to share the spaces of your tender memories with you as we learn from you. We weep with you and rejoice too. Much love to you.

    Reply
  20. Michelle
    March 18, 2015

    Your raw vulnerability continues to be such an example. No words. Just tears.

    Reply
  21. AmyE
    March 18, 2015

    Tears flowing … thank you for always sharing your heart and your journey with us. It matters. Praying again for all of you as you grieve.

    Reply
  22. Angela
    March 18, 2015

    Lisa,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. Praying for you and your family continually.

    Reply
  23. RussAnita Olson
    March 18, 2015

    Lisa, after my mom died, I relived moments of those 24 hours over and over and over again. It wasn't until I wrote it out that I was able to stop that reel from playing. As I wrote it out and dealt with pieces of it, more would come. Then more writing. I

    Reply
  24. Toni
    March 18, 2015

    Dear Lisa. Praying for the ongoing healing and comfort that only our Father can give.

    Reply
  25. Molly Kitsmiller
    March 19, 2015

    Like many others, your post caused streams of tears as I lived through those moments through your words. We continue to pray for you all daily as you process and mourn.

    Reply
  26. Alicia
    March 19, 2015

    I am a reader who was deeply saddened to hear about the loss of your daughter. I really have no appropriate words to say so I guess I will just stumble along. I am sorry that you experienced this tragic loss. I am not an adoptive Mom but for some reason I have been drawn to your blog. Indeed, it has kept me going over the past few years since I've discovered it's existence. I do not remember much of the last five years because my daughter has been recovering for five years from a tragic accident. She is just starting to come out of the trauma herself. Thank you for sharing. God Bless.

    Reply
  27. Jeri
    March 19, 2015

    I read this out loud to my husband. Tears, no words. Our prayer is that your family continues to be healed inside and out.

    Reply
  28. Virginia
    March 19, 2015

    I am heartbroken for your family's loss of sweet Kalkidan. A friend lost her son to a flash flood in her neighborhood creek. The night he drowned I actually posted a comment on your blog as something you had posted was a big comfort to me. I have witnessed the road of grief and I have witnessed God's beautiful mercies on that road and I pray you and your family will feel bathed in Christ's love. I am posting the link to an article about Anna as her son would have turned sixteen today. In reading it I thought of you and felt led to share it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-bishop/happ

    Reply
  29. Leslie
    March 19, 2015

    Crying and praying for you all. So thankful for God's peace that passes understanding that was with you. Praying for His continued presence and healing. Hugs and love for all of you.

    Reply
  30. Sally
    March 20, 2015

    Thank you, thank you for sharing your story and your grief. My adopted dot has trauma. This helps me to understand and to grieve with you for the loss of your precious daughter. You have been an inspiration to me through our adoptive journey. I have always turned back to your blog in difficult times for encouragement. You are in my prayers – may God continue to meet your every need.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 20, 2015

      Thank you, Sally. We are grateful for prayers and it encourages me to know that my blog has been helpful to you.

      Reply
  31. Kidan
    March 20, 2015

    Praying God's peace through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ continues to walk with you as you cherish the time and love you gave and were given to Kalkidan.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 20, 2015

      Thank you, Kidan – that peace that passes understanding is just what we need.

      Reply
  32. Angela Crawford
    March 20, 2015

    wow, thanks for sharing!! It helps my small troubles now to be kept in perspective!!

    Reply
  33. Pat
    March 22, 2015

    Thank you Lisa. The word that continually comes to mind is your amazing generosity to everyone else. Thank you for allowing us to walk alongside you and share your grief.

    Reply
  34. Kayla
    March 23, 2015

    Tears for you, friend. Nothing but tears. Awhile back you were asking for book suggestions and I just thought of another: The Hardest Peace.

    Reply
  35. Sammy
    April 10, 2018

    Don’t know what to say. This is the first time I’ve ever read your blog. Your daughter was so beautiful, but it is so apparent you know Jesus and she is in Heaven waiting on you! I’ve adopted 12 kids so I know you gave your daughter a beautiful life to experience before she went to live with Jesus for eternity!! And, that is complete peace and joy!! Sammy in Indianapolis

    Reply

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