What a difference a phone call can make. One moment we were happily celebrating a two year old birthday amongst family, and then in the span of five seconds the world came crashing down leaving our heads spinning and our hearts broken. We learned that Zak’s baby sister Lauren was life-flighted to the hospital after hitting her head from a fluke fall off a skateboard, and was undergoing surgery for a blood clot and it didn’t look good. It was Memorial Day weekend. I had just talked with Lauren for two plus hours the night before, and everything was fine. We had plans to start a Whole60 challenge together the next week, and she made me promise that we would talk multiple times a day to help her stay away from the sweets. I was so excited for her to be my buddy and we would fight this baby-weight battle of the bulge and WIN TOGETHER gosh dang it. We emailed each other recipe ideas from pinterest and instagram late into the night. Everything was great.
What unfolded next was mind-bending to say the least, and after hopping the next flight up to Bend, Oregon to meet with the rest of the family, was an excruciating week in the ICU of praying and waiting to see if we were going to get our miracle. Zak had processed that she was probably already gone once he got the phone call, and for me the reality didn’t set in until we were by her bedside and learning about posturing. Effing posturing. It is the worst. Basically, it is the symptom of a brain injury where the arms and legs move and it tricks you to think that, hey, Lauren must be in there, she squeezed my hand! She’s trying to get comfortable! But no. It’s an involuntary reflex that points to a traumatic brain injury, and it is not a good sign. It’s a cruel part of the process.
Fast forward to six days after the accident (in which each day felt like a year) and it was time to take Lauren off of life support as decided by her other half, Jayson. Lauren wanted to be an organ donor, so we had to say our goodbyes in an operating room. Leave it to Lauren to be firmly devoted to others even in death. That was an experience I don’t even know where to start with, so I will save it for another time. Lauren took her last breaths as Jayson and I were holding hands, all of us family together, and he was seeing her on a beach at sunrise walk out to Jesus who was waiting for her in the water, wearing a sea foam colored skirt, grey hoodie and a flower in her hair. I just kept praying for God to take her quickly as I saw whatever life that was left in her slowly slip away. I heard from someone afterwards that she actually went fast, but it felt so long. Then she was gone. Just like that. A nurse said we had two minutes to say goodbye, and Jayson wanted to be the last one, so I gave her a kiss and wanted to get out of the way as soon as possible to give him his time. I walked out into the hallway but then I realized I was alone, and I had no strength in my legs, and I just fell to my knees sobbing, so overwhelmed with the realness of goodbye and an unrelenting wave of grief. It was crushing. The next thing I know I’m fiercely holding Heidi, and then Amy, and then Brooke all at once, and there are only four of us girls embraced, when there should be five, and its just too much. We get told to move along by the staff into the waiting room, so we walk the long walk back through the ICU, past her empty room, and I see the other patients with their eyes open watching us go by and I am jealous of their good luck, that they are awake and Lauren is not. It’s not fair.
Let me elaborate. I knew this life would not be fair or comfortable based on my faith in Jesus, and every time I experience some type of grief it makes me reevaluate my understanding of who God is… how can he watch these things happen from above without fixing it the way I want Him to… make that need Him to… and if Jesus was supposed to come and take away the sting of death then why does it still sting SO freaking bad? I know there are plenty of platitudes to be used here but I emotionally barf at the thought of them. Please, please, never share them with someone grieving. Actually, I have a whole host of thoughts to share on what to say and what not to say to someone grieving, so I will share that on here soon. There are just no words, unfortunately.
All I know is that Jesus is brokenhearted along with us, that he was fighting for Lauren this whole time, and that he promised to not leave us. Especially now. These are the dark times when I can’t feel His presence or see Him clearly quite yet, but I know He is up to something good, even in this. It is His way, to always be at work in redeeming broken things into beautiful things. I look forward to getting to see that happen. I also really look forward to Heaven someday much more now, when I can see her again and hear her laugh and see her reunited with Jayson and her babies and the rest of us. I just wish He would bring her back NOW. I tend to process and heal by journaling, and in my prayers lately I’ve felt like I need to share this on here, so I’m going to throw my writing out onto the interwebs for no other reason than to follow that leading. It is hard and scary, but Anne Lamott said this once: “When God is going to do something wonderful, He or She always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, He or She starts with an impossibility.” These have felt like impossible times, so giddy up, let’s see what happens.