When a Summer Day Comes Crashing Down

The notification pops up in my email… A claim for an automobile accident on our insurance.

I was in a fender-bender, but that was months ago. Is this just a follow up? I check the date. It says the accident happened today.

My husband and two of our boys just left for a long early morning drive to a lifeguarding competition. My brain deciphers – they have been in a wreck. Enough time has elapsed for a claim to be processed, but I have not heard anything from them. My heart skips a beat. I call my husband – straight to voicemail. I send a frantic text message – no response.

The next few minutes stand outside of time. What if the unthinkable has already happened? What if there is no way to go back, to see them again, to throw my arms around them and love them like I have always been meaning to. What if their bodies lie cold, or struggling to breath. What if it is all too late?

A couple nights ago my husband and I had flung words like weapons. These fifteen years coming to a head, because we are tired of the brokenness.

When my son’s Lego ship shatters, my husband bends down to mend it, telling him not to be sad when things break, because it means you can find what’s weak and make it stronger. I hear the words and they echo, isn’t that what Ann Voskamp was writing in the book beside my bed – not to fear the broken things, because they are what bring redemption?*

But now I am afraid those broken words are the last ones he will ever hear from me. I call and call – is this voicemail the last of his voice? If he was alive and conscious why wouldn’t he be the one to tell me that the car holding him and two of our sons had slammed to a stop on the interstate?

I sit in silence and wait for my phone to ring. I wait for the hospital or the police officer to call me. It has not been long, but my nervous fingers must again dial my husband’s number. 

He answers. His voice breathes words through the phone. 

“You’re all ok?” I stammer and sob. How can this be? He was lost, but now is found. We have a second chance.

All this whirled in the span of fifteen minutes, because in this modern age automatic emails are sent quicker than husbands can get everyone to a safe spot and call to tell the story.

He realizes the panicked journey I just rode and tenderly reassures me.They drive on and I sit down to drink my tea grown cold.

We have been given a second chance.

What are we doing with our one wild and precious lives? **  I mean really… what are we doing?

He is going to work each day, riding ocean waves and scaling mountains. Our boys are running through their early years, scooping up all they can. I am in the kitchen and driving to the grocery. I am nursing the baby and painting canvases. I am walking in the mystery of God, and I am trying to understand how to love broken people through all my brokenness.

We are holding each other with this one life. We are holding on tight. And we must let go each day.

I sit with cold tea in hand and a phone that scared me to death and brought me back to life. I sit wondering like Mary Oliver…

“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.”

She says she knows how to pay attention though, how to fall down, how to kneel down and be idle and blessed.

Do I know any of this?

All I know is that when they return home tonight, I will keep on trying to love them as I have always been meaning to.

And I will fail.

And I will pray gratitude for every second chance the new morning light brings.

I will give thanks that we Jesus people live ever in the second chance.

* The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

**from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver


This article originally appeared at Sharon’s blog.

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Sharon McKeeman
Sharon is a homeschooling mama to three sons and a daughter. She is a Midwestern girl at heart who now lives with her family on the sunny beaches of Southern California, where they enjoy reading together and playing in the surf. She is an author, educator, speaker, and photographer who shares more of her story as @sharonmckeeman on Instagram and at www.sharonmckeeman.com where you will find her blog, Writing in the Dust, as well as her newsletter, Mourning into Joy, which is filled with encouragement and resources for grieving mamas.