moving forward

navigating through the life that was and moving into the life that is

The moment my life froze…

on April 18, 2012

Every day I get stronger.  By the grace of God and my dependence on Him, I get stronger and I heal. As my brain resumes more normal functioning, the haze of the grief lifts for moments, and I learn things about what happened to my body that confound me. As I learn all of the things that happened to my body, I am amazed at how far I have been blessed to come. I also learn some of the things that happened to Glen’s body and it brings me deep sadness that I didn’t get to spend more time with him before he died. I do know without a doubt that my parents did the right thing by not telling me what was going on or where he was.  It allowed me to get healthy and strong enough to be able to say goodbye when the time had come. From the accident, Nov 5th, up until the first day I have memories, Nov 21st, I was unable to remember things they had told me an hour before or anytime that day, let alone things from the day before.  So I am thankful that they didn’t torture me or themselves by telling me what state Glen was in.  I, along with them, would have had to go through the tragedy of the accident each day, unable to remember being told the day before.  On November 21st, I began forming new memories.  My first vivid memory post-accident is my mom telling me that I was in the hospital and that my whole  family had been in a car accident. I can remember the panic and the confusion that I felt.  I often look to the left when I think of this because she came in through the hospital room door and was at the left of my hospital bed.  She continued, explaining that the kids were okay, and then telling me that Glen had suffered serious injuries. That he had just had a CT scan done and that his brain was not showing any activity anymore. That in the evening, he would be taken off of life support.

In that moment my life froze.  I was so confused and didn’t even know what to think. And with a blink, my life was different. Forever.  I was mad. I didn’t understand, and I wanted him to be okay.  Shortly after being told this, I was able to see him for the first time since the accident. Seeing my husband in a hospital bed was overwhelming in and of itself, but knowing that those gorgeous eyes would never open again to see me was unbearable.  The kids refused to come into the room because although it was daddy they were scared.  So they stood in the doorway and Alana asked Aunt Michelle to take an “invisible string” from her heart to daddy’s heart, tying them together forever.  She then asked Michelle to do the same thing for Cameron.  invisiblestringThis “invisible string” is from an awesome book that my Aunt Margot bought the kids. The night before they had  talked about the invisible string and about how this string could never be broken.  From the book, “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String, made of love. Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart, and know that you are always connected to the ones you love.” Both the kids understood how this applied that day and were able to do this with daddy that day. Michelle and Margot, I love you for these moments and for your strength in my weakness.

For what felt like five minutes, but I was told it was 3 hours, I talked to Glen.  I touched his face, I held his hand, I listened to his heart beating, and laid my head on his stomach to feel his breath moving in and out for the last time.  I wish I could do this every day. Over and over.  Those last moments with him, I will treasure forever.  I am so thankful that I am able to remember this day and although, he was already gone, I got to see “my” Glen one last time so that I don’t have to spend the rest of my life wishing for that moment.

I am also beginning to see the vulnerabilities and weaknesses I had due to my brain injury and the grief and I am so grateful for those around me who have helped me monitor those things before my brain was ready.

The most shocking realization that has happened is that there are words that have come into my vocabulary over the last few months that I feel don’t belong there. Like sometimes I suddenly wonder if I’m living someone else s life. Then the reality that I am not comes hurling down before me.   And I am not doing this for shock value but to help you understand the complexity and the business of my thoughts right now.

  • Inferior vena cava filter
  • Trauma
  • Helicopter
  • Jaws of life
  • INR
  • Widow
  • Traumatic
  • Hemorrhages
  • Blood clots
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Grief. Loss
  • Grave
  • Death Certificate
  • Estate
  • Single Parent
  • Wound VAC
  • Vascular doctor
  • Sever
  • TBI
  • Post traumatic amnesia
  • Walking Boot
  • Deceased

Initially these words make me feel confused and tired. ­Then I will suddenly realize that although these words are in my vocabulary and it’s unfair and awful, I feel joy and hope for my future.  For “happiness is in the heart, not the circumstances.”  This saying is displayed in my counselor’s waiting room and I took a picture of it weeks ago, knowing it needed to be truth in my life but not understanding how until today.  If my happiness were to lie in my circumstances, I would have every right to be unhappy and grumpy and mean. Luckily, my happiness comes from my heart. A heart that God is invested in, a heart that God refines and protects, a heart that loves God and knows no fear despite what the world presents before me.  He reminds me that the above list are just words.  Although these words may define what HAPPENED to me, I cannot allow them to define ME. It goes without saying that suffering is a large part of what I am feeling at the moment. But luckily I am able to live by faith. And in living by faith I am able to trust God.

Romans 5: 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I find happiness in the love that God has poured into my heart through the Holy Spirit.  Not in the circumstances of my life.I continue praying for perseverance, character, and above all hope through the magnitude of this suffering. There are days when the pain is just so viable and present. I am so grateful for a God who is close when my heart is breaking, guides my pathways, renews my strength, and never leaves my side.

And a reminder I read every day – 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love of and self-discipline.

9 responses to “The moment my life froze…

  1. tonia says:

    Oh my sweet & beautiful friend……it brings me to tears the pain you are in and everything you have gone through. But you are SO strong and such an inspiration to others, I know that God is with you, beside you and in all the inspiration you pour out to others. Love & Bless you!!!

  2. Sandy,

    November 21st was a complicated and painful day for me. It was my 2 year anniversary of being with the mister and it was the day that I learned that your heart was going to break. I had planned on coming to visit you with some of my old friends who were friends with Glen from growing up and college. I prayed as we drove to Atlanta that there would be no bad news. We walked in shortly after the family heard the awful news. Sandy, my heart just shattered for you. I brought you that Christmas Cactus and I didn’t know what to do. I asked to go see you before your Mom went up, I wanted to share that tiny little moment with you. It was so hard, so hard to stand there and know what was going on and to keep a smile on my face. I’ve reflected on that moment a lot since then. I felt like a traitor to you, that I was hiding the world’s worst secret. I knew what was coming your way and I couldn’t shield you as a friend. I am so sorry for all that you have been through. You continue to amaze me with your strength and your faith. Thank you for being honest in your pain though, because it shows me that you are not superhuman, just like the rest of us. You will always be my mentor and I wish I could undo all of this horror for you, but you are amazing and I honestly think you will change the world. I love you lots, and I am honored to be your friend.


  3. Katy Frank says:

    Sandy, I want you to know that though I never knew you well I do read your blogs because you are so inspirational and amazing. I will forever be moved by your stories and honesty. There aren’t many people as strong, loving, and perseverant as you are in this world, and it is people like you that gives me hope! I agree with your friend that you will change the world.

    Katy (Martin) Frank

  4. Phil Stevens says:

    Sandra – I wish I could have met him. thanks for your post, they are encouraging and inspire hope.

  5. Lynn Setsma says:

    Oh, Sandy, you continue to amaze me by the strength God has given you and the words to describe what you are going through. I hope that sometime when you’re in GR again I can see you and give you a hug. Stay strong in the faith and in the love of those around you. Hugs,

  6. Kim Siegmund says:

    Sandra~ Your insight is beautiful… strong… and complete. Your journey of faith and your grateful heart has been such an eye-opener for me… putting things into perspective. Teaching me.
    YOU, girlfriend, are a walking testimony of the love, comfort, restoration and peace of God… and the fact that you so eloquently write it all down… and it ALL totally hits the mark… exactly the way God designed it to be when we’re walking around with broken hearts.
    You are beautiful. Your story radiates God’s love and YOUR faith in Him. FAITH is beautiful. Glen is so proud. 🙂
    Hugs to you!

  7. CG says:

    I am so touched by your words, considering this is my late mother’s birthday. Stay strong and know that Glen lives in you and your children. God Bless!

    Someone inspired by you

  8. Catie "Ziech" mcmahon says:

    Though it has been years since we have even seen each other, it is wonderful to see that your spirit still shines! You are a strong woman! I wish you happiness, love, faith, and strength always!

  9. Renee says:

    I can only sympathize as someone who also lost the love of their life. My heart goes out to you on all you have been through. I can think that by telling your story, you will help others out!

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