“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you”
Hello sweet friends! When we posted the beginning of our story last week (you can click here) we were not prepared for the response we would receive. You all truly entered into our Everyday Living and we are so grateful. If there is anything we want you to take away from it, we pray that you can see, know, and believe that God is faithful even in our darkest moments. It is our prayer that our story will encourage you.
I guess the guys decided to go out to the store in Midway to get some bread. Thoughtful of them since I was to return in a couple of days. Hunters are known to share when it comes to food. But interesting to me is the store is on Highway 82 and there was cell service along that stretch of main road. Cell service was non-existent in a lot of places on our club land. That’s significant because while there, my hunting buddy received a cell call from my phone. All he heard was, “I’m hurt really bad”! That’s it. The 4 words! Remembering my earlier comment, he had a good idea where I might be. He was also wise enough to contact Union Springs and get an ambulance and other help on the way. I was found in a hardwood bottom by my hunting buddy who had listened well and knew the area well. You can get lost on a place this big if you aren’t experienced and very familiar with the land. He was probably the only person who knew exactly where to come. Not a coincidence.
I was found on my hands and knees struggling to breathe.
I had apparently fallen about 25 feet from a tree based on the evidence.
I have very poor vision and extremely near sighted. My glasses were gone and my cell phone was in my jacket pocket. It always stayed in my back pack while hunting and my backpack was not close by. Seems this one time I had placed the phone in my jacket pocket (and I keep it in a pocket now when hunting). His phone number was not one I was familiar with but it was stored in my contacts. With help of medics and others I was transported by ATV, 4 wheel drive truck, and then ambulance to a field where the helicopter was already waiting. It is clear that if the only person who would’ve known how to find me was not there, didn’t listen well, or either of us had no phone service, no one had reason to miss me until that night or have a clue where to search. A few hours too late no doubt. The fact that I was in the trauma center in Montgomery in what was maybe only a couple of hours or less is an absolute miracle. I understand that emergency personnel called for the helicopter even before arriving and knowing the extent of my injuries. I would learn later from doctors that the injuries I had were of a nature that survival past a few minutes without intervention was unthinkable. Puzzling? No! A miracle extended because of God’s sovereign will, grace, and mercy.
When the curtain was pulled and I entered the ER, Butch was completely still. I touched his face, no response. I held his hand, no response. I whispered I love you, no response. There were all kinds of machines hooked to him and a ventilator was breathing for him. His hunting clothes were all crumpled and lying in a corner, they had been cut off of him. Tears came like a rushing stream.
Was this real or a dream?
This wonderful man that I met in 1970, when I was only sixteen, had always been a tower of strength…a real man’s man! He was a marathon runner, a weight lifter, a hunter, a real outdoorsman who could do anything with his hands. He was smart with a gifted mind that could grasp and learn anything! He was so talented…a singer, songwriter, and musician. His work ethic was second to none. But with all of his strengths, he possessed the qualities of gentleness, kindness, and meekness. He had loved me so well through almost thirty-four years of marriage.
This just couldn’t be happening to us.
I thought I would always have his strong arms around me through all of life’s sorrows and heartaches and now he was fighting to live. He was too young!
No this wasn’t really happening.
At this point, I knew that both of his lungs had collapsed and chest tubes had been inserted. Little did I know this would be the beginning of hours, days, and weeks sitting in a hospital intensive care waiting room praying for a miracle. The sun would rise the next morning and it brought hope of some good news. That didn’t happen, there was no good news. Over the next couple of days there were neurologists, pulmonologists, orthopedists, and more specialists than I can even remember that attended Butch. I was given information that I couldn’t even begin to process. The kindest and most reassuring doctor was the trauma specialist who saw Butch two to three times each day. He was a believer and didn’t hesitate to tell me that they were doing all they could, but ultimately it was in the hands of our Creator. I knew that…and I was doing my best to place Butch in God’s Hands. I wanted to trust Him, even if He didn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted.
Over the next twenty days, I stood by his bedside four times each day at every thirty minute visitation. I can’t begin to describe those days, it would take a book to hold it all. So many days of heart-wrenching news…pneumonia…staph infection…blood transfusions…hemorrhaging around the brain. One of the toughest moments was when the neurologist, with absolutely no bedside manner, said, “I don’t know if he will live, and if he does I can’t say there won’t be brain damage.” I crumbled. There were a few days that our sweet trauma doctor said there was slight improvement, I clung to the hope he would survive.
I would be remiss not to mention how family and friends stood by us during this dark time. I was never left alone during these long days and nights. The round trip drive from Gadsden to Montgomery is almost three hundred miles. So many made great sacrifices to bring comfort and love. Through church friends of my precious cousin that lives in Montgomery, I was given the use of a two bedroom 2 bath guest house for as long as I needed it. It was fully furnished and was truly a God-send. I didn’t want to leave the hospital, but I was physically and emotionally exhausted after four days and nights without leaving. I was only at the house to sleep, but different friends would stay with me each night. While I was away at night, at least one friend was always present in the ICU waiting room. Gift baskets of food came pouring in as well home-prepared meals and gift cards. Every possible need was met by our family, our loving church, our pastor and his wife, our friends, and business associates. I will never forget all the kindness that was shown. As a matter of fact, I kept every card that was sent as a reminder that our great God will meet all our needs.
Waiting was excruciating, but I found great comfort and peace in God’s word and prayer. I was on a journey of trusting God…and eleven years later I am still on that journey. Psalms 91:1-2 has always been a favorite passage because He is my refuge and I am still learning to trust Him.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.””
I was so scared that something would happen to Butch while I was asleep. The thought of not being there for him was terrifying. God speaks through His Word. Only He could give me peace to quiet my thoughts and calm my fears. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
This was too big for Butch and me. An enormous mountain we could not climb. I would have to trust God to make it small enough for us to make it over, knowing He would be with us every step of the way. I prayed my wishes and His will would be in harmony.
God is always working and he wasn’t finished writing this story!
“…Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
We invite you to come back Wednesday as we share the final chapter!