Friday, April 29, 2005

Too many events...

Hello, everybody (translation: the two of you that actually know this blog exists). Quite a lot has happened since my last blog, just after my angiogram last October. With an opening like that, you know more is coming, right?

In January, my son was in a GMC Yukon with six other kids, coming back from WinterFest, a big regional gathering of Church of Christ kids in Dallas. They were about thirty miles from home, singing and yelling and making fun of each other when, for reasons as yet undetermined, the Yukon swerved violently left, then right to the shoulder of Interstate 20, then began rolling.

Six of the kids, including my son, survived. The seventh, Brody Bourland, didn't.

Ausin was airlifted to Cook's Childrens' Medical Center in Fort Worth with a closed-head injury, broken ribs and collarbone, bruised lungs, and minor lacerations. He was unconscious and entubated, to protect his airway (he was vomiting violently at the scene of the accident, a consequence of the closed-head injury). His buddy, Chris Cope, sustained a fractured vertebra, a concussion, cracked ribs, bruised lungs, and a broken thumb. One of the girls, Amara Childers, had a ruptured spleen and a shattered leg. Jon-Westin Bennett acquired two broken legs, one a compound fracture. Two other kids were treated and released the same day. The driver, my friend Julie Folwell, sustained neck and spine fractures and a dislocated elbow. She's recovering.

For nearly two hours, I didn't know if Austin was dead or alive.

You can read the blog of my friend, Mike Cope, for more details of the wreck and its aftermath, including the accounts of prayers, thousands of them, offered up all over the country for the deliverance of my son and his friends. It's a good thing; for a while, I was literally too much in shock and fear to pray.

I always wondered how I'd react to receiving news like this; now I know. I went numb, then I began to beg, quite inarticulately, for my son's life. I think I was mostly begging God, but I would've begged anybody else I thought could have a bearing on the outcome.

Long story short: after a week in the hospital and another week recovering at home, Austin went back to school. At this writing, he shows no after-effects, either physical or emotional. How can I adequately express my gratitude? I can't.

While all this was happening, my father was dying in the hospital in southeast Missouri. Precisely two days after Austin came home from the hospital, I got a call from my brother, telling me I'd better come. I left the next day (Tuesday), and on Wednesday morning, January 26, 2005, my brother, my sister, two nephews, and I sang, prayed, and Bible-read my dad into the next world. He was almost 85, and this case of pneumonia was the first serious illness he'd ever had in his life.

Mortal fear, life, and death coming in such close proximity can make you think, you know? Have I sorted this all out? No. I'm not sure life is meant to be sorted out as much as it is to be lived and experienced. My son was spared; my dad wasn't. Would I have made that choice? Probably. Knowing my dad, he would've, too. But why is my son still walking around, and the Bourlands' boy isn't? Not a clue. That's a choice nobody got to make.

If I could think of some profound closing remark, it would go here.