My husband in a hospital bed.
Is this anything remotely close to what I have experienced in the past? No. Not at all. But did the picture take the breath out of my chest and make me feel like vomiting when I saw it? Yes, it did.
Here's the back story: Patrick went out for a late afternoon surf. Simultaneously, Brooks and I were at home having a dance party. In the middle of a dance our phone rings and I assume it's Patrick calling to beep him up if he's forgotten his key. It's not. It's someone who saw Patrick down the street and the conversation goes like this: Him - Is this Judy? Yeah, hi, I just wanted to let you know that your husband was out surfing and he's had an accident. He's at the surf club and his foot is cut up but they're taking care of him and he's fine. I just thought you'd want to know where he is."
My brain shut off when I heard "your husband had an accident..." Poor Brooks is jumping and dancing around when I shut off the music so I could process the information I had just received. I focused on the "he's fine" part and we prayed. We prayed a couple of times and waited for Patrick to come home. About thirty minutes later our phone rang again. This time it was the Surf and Rescue guy who told me he was calling because my partner was cut up pretty badly. He would need stitches and needed to get to the hospital. Again, all I can think about is vomiting.
Long story short, Patrick had nine stitches in his toes and he's fine. In fact, he cut the stitches out himself rather than going back to the hospital. However, the moral of the story is this: You never know what you might say or do that triggers something in someone else.
Getting those calls triggered something in me. Seeing that picture triggered something in me. Watching the concern build in Brooks triggered something in me.
Throughout the sixteen months of Keith's struggle I tried not to wonder about the dreaded "what ifs?" but I wasn't always successful. When I was pregnant I grieved and yearned for Brooks to know his father. In the quiet times when I was alone with Keith I questioned the timing and wondered if it would be better if the accident would have happened a few years down the road. Maybe if Brooks was four or five and had solid memories of Keith, would it have been better for all of us?
Brooks saw me when I got the call about Patrick. He saw me after the call while we waited. He heard the phone ring a second time and he saw my urgency to get packed up to walk down to the surf club.
He saw his daddy sitting on the ground with his foot propped up, bandaged on a bench. He gave him a hug and told him he loved him. He saw our friend drive up to take Patrick to the ER to get stitched up while we walked back home. He saw the above picture on Facebook. He saw that picture and he wouldn't let me remove it from the computer screen. He stared at it and he touched it. He asked, "Is Daddy okay? When will Daddy be home?" I clicked away from the picture and he cried out. He said, "Put the picture back; I want to see Daddy."
He snuggled into me with his arm on the computer and told me that his heart was sad. He said his heart was sad because Daddy was hurt and couldn't be with us. His sad heart broke mine. Fortunately for me I could tell him that Daddy was coming home and that he would see him soon. Brooks saw him before he went to the hospital so he knew he was okay. He just wanted to see him on the computer screen to feel like he was with him. He was already laying down going to sleep when he heard the front door unlock. His eyes bulged and he ran as fast as he could down the hall to give Patrick a huge hug welcoming him home and ask if his foot was better.
There are various hypothetical situations about how life might have been if Keith's accident happened three years down the road. I can only imagine how Brooks would have handled it given how he handled Patrick's cut toes. Looking back I'm thankful God didn't answer my desires of wanting what He didn't give us. It makes me wonder how many times we pray super specifically for something only to become discouraged when it doesn't come to be as we want it. We should have the confidence to seek out God's favor in whatever form He deems best without inserting our time frames, locations, etc. He's the only one who sees the entire picture and we have His assurance that He will work it for our good.
So as an encouragement please know that the prayers we are so desperately seeking out might seem to be unanswered, but in reality might be the best case scenario for our situation at that exact moment. God is faithful; He will provide.