It’s 11:27p Denver time on Sunday night and I am sitting in the airport after what might have been the longest week of my adult life waiting on my red-eye flight home. I flew to Denver unexpectedly because Melanie’s son, Jackson (16) was t-boned by a driver that didn’t bother to stop for a red light on a major thoroughfare of Castle Rock during rush hour. Jackson had a green arrow to turn onto the parkway and moments after he began to creep forward in his Toyota Corolla a truck slammed into his driver’s side.
It is difficult to account for the many, many miracles, tiny and grand that we have collectively recorded — and I am certain there are many we have missed — but I feel the need to catalog them here so that if a time comes and I wonder where God is in the midst of my busy life, or I experience prayers that feel delayed in receiving an answer, I can have a sober reminder of just how present, concerned and involved He is in our lives.
At the moment of the accident, there were two off-duty emergency responders in traffic. One, an off-duty DC Sheriff and one an off-duty EMT. They were with Jackson within moments of impact.
Moments after the accident, our friend, Sara (who happens to also be the mother of Jackson’s best friend) happened to pass the accident, recognized what she thought might be Jackson’s car and after trying to text Jackson with no response, she reached out to Mel to let her know what might have happened. She then sent her son, Jax’ best friend Bryce, to pick Melanie up and bring her to the hospital as she just had foot surgery last week and wouldn’t be able to drive herself. In the meantime, Sara drove straight to the hospital.
The first responders, at first glance, thought they were dealing with a deceased victim…Jackson was unresponsive. Once the realized he was still with us, they began the task of stabalizing his neck and extracting him from the car. The impact was so great they had to first remove the truck from his door and then proceed to cut his car apart with the jaws of life. It took 15 minutes to get him out.
While Melanie was in transit, she texted me. I was finishing up bible study with my home group when I finally looked at my phone and saw the text. She told me Jackson was in an accident and asked for prayers. And there I was…frozen in my kitchen in South Carolina while my best friend, my sister, was in Colorado terrified at what might be coming in the moments ahead. I started to pray and even in the moment where my mind was racing with what-ifs, I began to feel the peace and almost on auto-pilot, I began reaching out.
I texted every friend I could think of and asked for prayers. I went to the groups I associate with, I got online and reached out to my church’s prayer request link. Anyone I could think of. And almost before I could hit send I started to feel the wash of peace come over me. I was asking for prayers on behalf of Mel, Jax and their family, and yet here I was experiencing a warmth, a peace, a calm that I can’t explain other than God was answering even my unspoken prayers — the ones I hadn’t even cast on my own behalf.
It was late by this time and I couldn’t reach Mel as much as I might try. I attempted to get some sleep and managed a few hours, and then I woke in a panic around 3a and knew I needed to book a flight. I was sure I wouldn’t find anything at a reasonable time to get me there quickly. I was wrong. I had my choice of flights, and plenty of points to cover it. Points from all the work travel I’ve done the last few months that I have done nothing but complain about. Points I was thankful for now. I booked my flight and was on a plane by 10a. I landed in Denver at 2 and was at the hospital by 3p.
Jackson was in ICU. I found my way there and walked in to a dimly lit room with Jax in the hospital bed, still not cleaned from the night before. He had scratches on his face and dried blood on his face and neck. He had a broken tibia, a partially collapsed lung, his spleen was bleeding and he had a subdural hematoma/concussion. And he was surrounded by his dad, and his two friends Bryce and Sydney. And though he was in pain and very drowsy, he was responding to their conversations. Miracle.
The doctors had deemed him stable enough for surgery that night. They needed to place a rod in his left shin to support the broken bone.
I left Mel to go pick up her mother from the airport — another blessing. Mel’s mom lives in Utah and her son was able to coordinate her flight in as well. Anita being like my second mom, even I felt comfort once I had her in the car.
By the time we got to the hospital, Jax had been taken into surgery, the rod had been placed — but they felt the lung was actually rebounding on its own as was his spleen, they didn’t need to do anything for either. They cleaned him up since he was unconscious and wheeled him into recovery. He was back in his ICU room by 8:30 and when I got into his room just after 9p, he was partially sitting up, his eyes were open, he was engaging in conversation with his dad and his aunt and uncle who stopped in. They had given him a spinal block, which alleviated the pain so he was in good spirits.
This was hour 28. Twenty-eight hours after emergency responders called a code-Adam, here Jackson was, sitting up, pretty alert and able to keep up with his dad’s sense of humor. My heart about burst.
The next morning they got him out of bed. Supported by a walker, the kid stood. Two days later he was showering and walking up stairs with the assistance of a crutch and a nurse, and on Saturday he came home.
I am good in a crisis. Like, I’m literally the person you want around when the world is falling apart. I go into “fixit” mode. I am calm, methodical and effective at keeping everyone else calm. However, when I am in that mode, I am not processing. I am not feeling, I am not grieving. That comes later — usually much later — however, this time, the grieving decided to show up today.
In the morning I went to church. I thought I would sleep in, but I kept waking up and kept feeling like the place I most needed to be was in church, in community, praising His goodness, His protection, His grace and deliverance. So, I went. I am so glad I did. But after, I went over to a friends. They were out and I had about 20 minutes of quiet time on their porch while I waited for their return. It was a lovely morning, breezy, sunny, warm but not hot. And there I was alone, quiet and the flood gates opened.
Mel and I became friends about the time Jackson came home from the hospital. I held that little guy, and as he grew and could pull himself up, he would crawl all over me. He melted my heart. His older sister and my Kenzie were joined at the hip as were Mel and I, and Jake took Jax under his tender 7-year-old wing before age differences mattered in the least. I would have only been more shook by the events of the last few days had the call come in to me and it being about one of my own. Jax is my nephew by love if not by blood.
In that moment where all the feelings and emotions showed up, I also felt comfort and peace. And to my mind came flooding all the little moments and big moments that can only be regarded as miracles. And I have never been more thankful or felt more loved, protected or carried by God. Not even through my journey with cancer. And I knew in that moment, that even had things gone differently, with a different outcome, I would have felt peace. I would have felt enveloped by the spirit. He was with Melanie, Jackson, her family and me all at once. As only God can be. And I have never been more thankful or more aware of His presence thank I have been this week — or of the power of prayer. I can only tell you that it was palpable in that room. I could literally feel the lift of so many pulling together asking for comfort and healing. Melanie and her mom had similar experiences.
Jackson has no memory of the accident. He remembers running and errand and then waking up in his room in ICU. Another blessing for sure. But in that he asked Mel why she kept referring to his ordeal as a miracle. He knows he was in the hospital and he certainly feels the discomfort of his injuries. Today Mel shared the pictures from the wreck with him…
There is no one who will ever convince me that this was not the protection of God’s hand and angels. There is simply no other explanation that I can come up with for all the things that aligned just before, during, and after the accident to keep Jackson safe and to bring him home.
I will leave these jumbled thoughts here, as I said, for the future just in case I am ever in doubt. Thank you, God, for sparing this boy. I eagerly anticipate the things you have in store for his life, and those he will touch, ahead.