Time passed and eventually I was taken upstairs to a room. As my bed was wheeled down the hallway I saw Russ and with him, friends who live in Coeur d’Alene. I later learned that our pastor called a friend of his, a pastor who was much closer to the hospital, who came to be with Russ in the emergency room. He also called friends of his who lived near and had lost their son a few years before; he knew they would be a comfort to us.
The anticipated snowstorm had arrived and Russ didn’t want anybody on the roads coming to see us – not our children, our families, our dear friends from home, or our pastors. What a gift it was to have the Body of Christ show up, even when we were far from home.
The rest of the day was a blur of pain, another MRI, confusion, shock, and friends sitting quietly by our sides. Phone calls flew back and forth between Russ and the kids, our families, our friends. I was detached from nearly all of it. We learned that friends had arranged for Hannah to fly home in the morning and come directly to the hospital.
Doctors and nurses came and went. Sometime the next day, with lots of help, I made it to the bathroom where I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. My hair was standing up in a matted mess, and my face was swollen with bruises, a black eye, and one distinct bruise that looked like a mustache. My body was covered with bruises, most of which I didn’t see until I was home. We knew I had a fracture in my sacrum; the fracture in my left shoulder hadn’t been discovered yet. My right hand was not working well and my arm was a painful, swollen mess. The injury to my right hip was the most painful of all, with swelling and bruising where the muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissue had been crushed and torn.
More than anything, I wanted to go home and be with my children. I knew they were scared and confused and needed me. I needed them too. Russ and I were desperate to gather them close.
Hannah arrived and what a blessing it was to have her communicating with doctors and nurses for us. Later that morning the nurse who had stopped to help us at the accident came to my room; we learned that she worked on the floor where I was being treated. The gratitude we felt (and continue to feel) toward her was more than we could even say. We talked for a little while, asking her questions, and talking about Kalkidan.
I desperately didn’t want to spend another night at the hospital, my blood (which was one of the greater concerns) was fine, I didn’t need surgery, I just needed to heal. Writing this three months later, I’ll admit, I had no idea what that was going to require. Because I had Hannah and so much personal medical support at home (Michele is a nurse practitioner, and a very close friend is also a physician), my doctor agreed to discharge me. It took well into the evening before the paperwork was complete. Hannah had gone ahead of us and the kids were all together.
I no longer had a single piece of clothing, so my friend, Amy, gathered soft yoga pants, underwear, slippers, socks and warm shirts. I managed to shower while sitting, washing sticks, pieces of glass, and dirt from my hair. My right hand didn’t work, and I couldn’t raise my left arm, so I’m not sure how I showered – it’s odd, but I can’t remember.
One of my hardest moments was about to occur and I had no idea it was coming; I was so relieved to be leaving the hospital. A wheelchair was brought to my room and I was backed into the hallway. Then it hit with such force, I reached for the arm of the nurse and began to quietly sob. She bent down and through my tears I said, “I can’t leave my daughter here. I can’t leave my daughter.” The full force of Kalkidan’s death slammed against me and my heart was broken again.
I couldn’t bear to look at anyone as they wheeled me down the hall. I was crying so desperately that they took me on a back elevator where no visitors or other patients would see me falling apart. I held tightly to Russ’s hand. We got downstairs and the CNA turned to wheel me through the ER waiting room, which was the only entrance still open. I saw the people there and begged her not to take me through them. She turned and we left through the staff entrance.
Amy’s husband was waiting for us, his car already warm. Russ managed to get me buckled in a seat without me placing weight on my right leg or using my arms. He covered me with a blanket and we began the drive home.
We held hands weeping as we drove away from the hospital and our daughter – knowing she would never come home again.
I spoke with one of my older children last week who expressed that reading these posts makes her concerned for me. I want to assure you that, while writing this is difficult, it is also good. I know it is hard to read. Death, tragedy, suffering, sorrow – they are topics we wish we could avoid, but they are part of the world we live in. One day we’ll be in heaven and will never face them again – just think, Kalkidan is already there.
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