One of my personal goals for this year is a good habit I would like to cultivate: living in the moment. Stopping what I am doing and paying attention, especially to my children.
Thursday morning as Stephanie prepared to leave (she works for a weaver, ten minutes away), I was busy working on the menu and grocery list. "I probably won't see you till tonight, since you're going shopping," she explained. I nodded and said "Okay. See ya later." I remained focused on the task at hand.
I remember a thought running through my mind at that moment: What if that was the last conversation I ever had with my daughter? I didn't even look up! Ugh! That needs to change!
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"Stephanie and Haley just flipped the car on Beck's Grove!" Terry's words took a few seconds to register. "Flipped the car???" They wrecked?!
Our family was a bit split up that evening, as we were making final preparations for our upcoming Vow Renewal Ceremony in honor of our recent 25th anniversary. Stephanie and Haley had met friends for dinner in town; Emily and MacKenzie had things to work on at home, and so Michael stayed with them; I had gone grocery shopping and had those children with me who needed black shoes and other necessary items to complete their outfits for Saturday (Corrie, Isaac, Sam, and Destiny). We'd been to several stores hunting affordable matching ties and shirts for all three boys. By the time we arrived at Walmart around 9 PM, I was ready to be done. Terry met me there and he and Corrie planned to shop while I looked for matching blue scarves for the girls. Just before we entered the store, we heard a horn blast: It was Stephanie and Haley, waving and laughing that they had unexpectedly met up with us. Haley explained that she needed to pick up a gift card and they would be on their way home. Sam asked me if he could ride home with his sisters. I was tempted, because I could tell he was tired, but I decided against it.
When we left the store 45 minutes later, Terry took Sam and Destiny with him and we all headed for Wendy's drive-through to pick up Frostys for the children. I started to pull forward to the window when Terry got my attention. He had pulled up next to the van and motioned for me to put the window down. His cell phone was up to his ear and he had a concerned look on his face.
"Stephanie and Haley just flipped the car on Beck's Grove! They say they're okay and the police are on the way. I'm going!"
I wanted to peal out of the parking lot and follow him, but I knew the van was in dire need of gas. I took a deep breath and sent up a "flare prayer" for my daughters.
As I drove to the gas station, I called home and told Emily what I knew and asked her to call the prayer chain to request prayer. She was crying, but was able to maintain her composure. I told her we would update her when we knew more. Then I called Amanda and talked with her during the longest 15 minute drive of my life.
Beck's Grove is a curvy, hilly back road that is part of our route into town. It's a nice drive in the summer, but winter can be treacherous. The recent snow and ice left remnants on parts of the road.
As we approached the scene, red and blue lights pierced the otherwise dark night. "Why are there so many lights???" I asked nobody in particular. I looked for an ambulance, but didn't see one. Amanda reminded me to stay calm. "They're okay, Mom."
I parked behind the other halted cars on the road and quickly made my way past emergency personnel. I was prepared to tell anyone who tried to stop me, "Those are my children!" I must have looked like a mama bear coming to rescue her cubs, as no one approached me. Then I saw them.
The girls were standing with Terry near the overturned car. "There's Mom!" I heard Haley say. "We're okay!" Steph reassured me as I began to cry. "How...?" I asked.
Everyone on the scene was amazed that the girls suffered no injuries, other than a scratch Haley received on her foot.
Then I learned what had happened. As Stephanie had come around the icy corner, the car began to fishtail. She told Haley "Don't worry; I got this!" She would put into practice what her daddy had taught her to do in such circumstances. Unfortunately, she over-corrected and the car spun out of control. Both girls said the car was headed for the opposite side of the road, which is a deep, wooded ravine, but suddenly it shifted to the right and went up an embankment and flipped over.
Stephanie said the whole experience was surreal, hanging upside down with the car still running. Her first concern was her sister until she heard Haley's voice asking, "Are we alive?" Haley vividly remembers a sense of feeling arms holding her tightly as the car spun and flipped. They both shared how they had scrambled to try to get out of the car, and Haley struggled to find her missing shoes.
The rescue workers were overheard making comments such as, "Those girls look like they just came from shopping rather than crawling out of a wreck!" and "Today was their lucky day!" Stephanie told me emphatically, "Luck has nothing to do with it; we were surrounded by angels!"
We were told that if the car wasn't totaled already, it would be once they flipped it right side up, as the procedure usually causes more damage. It took awhile for the wrecker to arrive.
We thought the windshield had been shattered. See?
In reality, it was badly cracked, but still intact! The car was in fairly good shape, considering...
Everyone was amazed when Terry was able to start the car and drive it home!
This morning we are all praising the Lord for His protection.
And I am thankful to the Lord for solidifying my resolve to live in the moment!
Note: To read Haley's account of the wreck, visit her blog Stop and Smell the Roses.