Sunday, September 25, 2016

3-year Anniversary

Three years ago today our lives were changed in an instant.
We'll never forget. Much of our life may look "normal"....but we know and we feel it. There are still effects that Adam deals with on a daily basis.

We've moved this summer and are in a whole new community. It is a different feeling to be surrounded by people who did not know us pre-accident. They have no idea of Adam's physical-ness prior to his accident. They were not with us when we were faced with an unknown outcome. They did not watch our kids, clean our house, bring us meals, spoon-feed Adam, rake our leaves, send us encouraging notes, pray, pray, and pray some more. The people we are surrounded with now didn't know us then. I have a feeling they would have stepped up to the plate though. But still, its weird to have such a life-altering event not be a part of our history with our new friends and community. We can't visit the accident site and the altar we built at the 1-year mark. We don't pass the hospital where he stayed for 7 weeks. Adam has shared his story here......but its another thing to be surrounded by people who showed up when you needed it and saw you through such a vulnerable time.

I asked Jory, a youth pastor friend, who was with Adam when he had the accident, to recall that day for me. To walk us through what he alone experienced on that day. To allow us to pause, be taken back to that day......and ultimately to give God the glory for being faithful in our lives, extending to us His peace, and to recognize what God did in our lives and hearts. Here's Jory's words:

"It was three years ago, but when I allow my mind to drift back to that day it feels like it was yesterday.

It was a Wednesday designed to be the centerpiece for the “National Week of Prayer.”  The day was to begin with students, parents and youth pastors gathering around flag poles to pray for their schools and our nation. It was to conclude with a prayer rally uniting youth groups from across West Michigan as they again cried out to God on behalf of their communities and our county.

Adam texted me early that morning – checking in to see which school I had gone to for prayer and what my plans were for the rest of the day.  With the prayer rally later that night taking the place of our regular youth group meetings, we both had unusually empty schedules…Lunch? Lunch. Qdoba? Qdoba. Better yet: mountain biking and Qdoba!  

By mid-morning our bikes were loaded into Adam’s truck and we were headed for Merrell Trail.  It started like all our rides together - Adam would race ahead and then patiently waiting for me to catch up (I could never match his speed and athleticism). Half way through “mix-master” I caught up to Adam waiting by an A-frame that tracked between the split in a y-shaped tree.  Neither of us had ever ridden the A-frame before but Adam was determined to conquer this obstacle. His attempt was anything but reckless; rather, he was methodical and cautious.  He made multiple approach runs, each time going further up the A-frame than the last, until finally he had made it to the peak. The next attempt was going to be the one, he was going for it.  The approach was true but he didn’t gain enough speed causing his gears – or was it a pedal? It all happened so fast – to catch on the wooden ramp.  In an instant Adam was flipping over his handle bars falling straight down head-first.  

Running up to where Adam lay, still straddling the bike with one shoe clipped to the pedal, I asked him if he was ok…I knew it was a stupid question but it was all I could think to say.  Adam confirmed the stupidity of my question even before he told me he had no feeling in his body and that I needed to call 911.  911? That’s for emergencies! As I dialed the phone I asked him if he was sure we needed to call 911 – it was a desperate grab for hope, that maybe it was a fleeting sensation and he just needed to catch his breath. To call 911 was to admit something terrible had happened. I hit “call.” Help was on its way.

It would take time for the EMS unit to make their way along the trail to our location, so after I hung up Adam took charge. I actually remember thinking, “He’s the one hurt, I should be thinking clearly and talking him through it.” But that is Adam. First, he asked me to call his wife and let her know what happened - she didn’t even know we went riding that morning. Next he instructed me to park my bike sideways up the trail so any other bikers would not ride up on him in his vulnerable position.  After that there was nothing else to do so I sat down next to him and we prayed. I prayed with a desperation I had never prayed before. I prayed for a miracle, for healing, for Adam’s peace of mind, for contentment in life, for Becca, for their kids, for healing, for this all to pass over and be a lot of nothing, for healing.  For the next hour, as we waited for help to arrive - in between calling the dispatcher back, redirecting a few bikers, trying to comfort Adam as he dealt with the pain, and shouting to the EMS unit to help them locate us - I prayed.

It was the fire department with a four-wheeler that reached us first. Once they had secured Adam and began evacuating him it became my job to get the bikes back to the trail head.  In my flustered state I had forgotten Adam had changed the gearing on his bike so when I shifted gears the chain popped off…repeatedly. Uh!  It’s such a trivial matter but in that moment I just wanted to throw my hands up and scream, “Really? Are You Kidding Me!?!” I walked his bike back and then ran back along the trail to get my bike.  Once I finally got the bikes loaded I set off in Adam’s truck to meet him at the hospital.  

Half way to the hospital my eyes caught sight of my bike in the review mirror at the moment it was sent spiraling across the expressway and into the path of an oncoming SUV.  A bolt on the bike rack had sheared off.  For the next 40 minutes - as I endured the wrath of an angry driver and as I answered the questions of the state trooper - I prayed. I prayed for self-control, patience, peace, and mercy.  I praised God that no one else was hurt that day.  I prayed for Adam. Finally, the state trooper cleared me of any negligence, substantiated my story with dispatch, and permitted me to proceed to the hospital.  She could have ticketed me but instead she wished my friend well – her husband mountain bikes too.   

I remember all that in vivid detail - far more than I have even described here - but the rest of the day becomes a blur.  I switched vehicles and picked up my wife in case she was needed to help care for Adam’s kids.  When we finally made it to the hospital Becca was already with Adam.  I couldn’t stay long, I still had to take a group of teens to a prayer rally.

I learned a lot about prayer on that Wednesday. If I am honest, I might say I learned to pray anew on September 25, 2013. Not at a flag pole, nor at a rally, but sitting in the dirt in the woods next to my motionless friend. I learned to pray on the side of the highway.  I learned what it meant to call out to God when truly powerless to do anything else. In the days, weeks, months and, yes, even years, that followed I continued to pray for Adam and his family.  We all prayed for Adam. Somewhere along the way my prayers changed again, from requests for healing to thanksgiving.  Now when I pray for Adam I pray for our continued friendship, for our fellowship as ministers of the gospel, for his faithfulness in praising God, and for God’s healing hand.

Adam - Thank you! We are praising God for you and we are excited to see how He continues to work in you and through you.  The next time we are together Qdoba is on me."   

“Give thanks for the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”  ~Psalm 107:1

This day brings so much gratefulness. Along with my eyes leaking a decent amount. Thanks for taking the time to re-live that day for me Jory. And thanks be to God for making Himself so known to us during that time. We are reminded of our frailness. We are reminded of our dependence on Him. And we continue to lean on Him for the big things, the small things, and everything in between. This life is not about us. Its all about Him.