Your Last Goodbye

This time two years ago I could have been writing an obituary. Since 2014, each time the month of October rolls around, I find myself reflecting on a lot of “what-ifs.”

I don’t remember much about the day I got the call, but I do remember everything following it. One of my sister’s best friends called my phone. I recognized the area code and assumed it was she, but I had no idea why she would need to contact me. Curious, I answered and cheerfully asked what was up.

I would soon find out that my sister just had a major accident on her way to a wedding in Lynchburg. Also, I needed to get to the hospital ASAP. I didn’t know what was waiting for me at Lynchburg General Hospital, so I approached the situation with no expectations. I prayed for wisdom and courage. I asked the Lord to guide me. He did.

Upon arriving at the hospital I was very set on seeing my sister. The less-than-helpful woman at the counter told me that she hadn’t arrived yet, but that I would be the first to know when the ambulance arrived. About thirty minutes later, I was given access to the Major Bay care unit (where trauma victims are treated) to go back and see my sister.

Lying on a stretcher, she greeted me by saying “I could have died.” She was obviously emotionally distraught, but I was in the zone and didn’t catch the depth of what she said. I was focused on answering questions for the nurses and helping stabilize my sister.

It didn’t hit me then, but it’s unbearable to think about those words, “I could have died” now. I didn’t ponder them until I saw her car the following day. The entire roof of the car was smashed down to the seats. All the windows were shattered. It looked no different than a vehicle exiting a compactor. If she would have had any passengers, all of them likely would have died on impact. There was only one spot of the car that looked like it had before the accident – the driver’s side. There is no reason beside the protecting hand of the Father that my sister should have walked away from her accident that day.

If I ponder those events too long, my heart starts to hurt and emotions of all sort start to surface. My breaths get shorter and my mind starts to race. I can barely think about the ramifications of that accident turning into a tragedy, but when I do, it makes me so very grateful for her and those close to me.

We never know when we will send the last text, share the last hug, and laugh the last time with the ones we love. In our humanness we begin to believe they will always be right beside us, sharing life with us. This is untrue. Their days are numbered, as are yours.

I understand that “life happens” and families irritate and frustrate one another. But, please do not become callous to the blessings around you – your loved ones. Those closest to us are treasures. They are the ones with whom we experience life. They have walked and talked with us, seen us at our worst and our best. They are invested in us, and we in them.

Spend a little extra time on the phone, laugh harder, love bigger, thank the Lord more, look after, and cherish those that are family to you. You never know when you will say your last goodbye.

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