5:14 AM "I'm figuring out that I don't get mass texts. I love you and have been praying for you constantly."
I laid there in bed wondering how she was doing and what she was thinking and doing at that time of day. Would she really be up for her run? Could she not sleep? Was she sending out texts when people were asleep so that she wouldn't be bothered? I knew that I wasn't going to be able to sleep so I got up and went to the bathroom. It took me awhile since my legs
5:26 AM "Could I call you some time or would you like some space for awhile?"
5:28 AM She responded with, "You can call, I'm just not always available, but you know I love talking to you. These have not been mass texts so I'm not sure what's wrong? XO"
Her simple signature of "XO" at the end, let me know that she is in fact, "doing it". A smile came over my face and a sigh of relief as I have prayed so often for her over the last two days. That "XO" meant that she was still herself. Still the same cute friend that I spoke to a couple weeks ago. Thinking she might not be able to sleep I sent her the following.
5:31 AM "Are you up and can't sleep right now or up for the day? Now? Another time today?.....and I'll be getting another phone!!"
5:36 AM My phone rang. I jumped up as fast as my aching legs let me and closed the door careful not to wake anyone else. I greeted her, "Hi, my sweet friend". We spoke for about an hour. I asked questions about how she was doing, her husband, her three remaining children, and her parents. She told of the accident and what happened. She talked about the outpouring love and support from her family, friends, community and strangers. She talked about her son and what a good boy he was. What a great summer their family had had, and how she had documented their summer with numerous pictures. She recognizes the tender mercies she has had over the last few months. All I could say was that I was sorry over and over. I've learned from another friend that when someone loses someone dear to them, they just need to be validated.
Just before getting off the phone, she said something to me that really caught me by surprise and made me think. She said, "I thought of you that day". Instantly my mind was like, "What?!" She then said that just before or during being questioned about the accident, she knew that there were going to be some painfully hard questions asked. That's when she thought of me.
Years ago, I was burned badly. After being placed in the ambulance and while getting an I.V. going, a police officer came and asked me some questions. He asked me if I thought my husband had intentionally started me on fire. He then asked me if D and I had been fighting that night and did I have any reason to believe that D had tried to start me on fire. I was asked three times. I kept shooting out these naive "No!"s every time I was asked that question. After laying in the E.R. for hours and then finally getting to my room in the burn unit, I cried to my nurse that the policemen would even ask me such a thing. The nurse then told me that it was protocol. That so many of the patients there at the university hospital were there due to domestic violence. That many of them had had loved ones intentionally hurt them; and that the policeman was merely doing his job by asking questions. I cried then at the thought of so much evil and how naive I had been. It was a long time before I could shake those thoughts that night. I was grateful that my accident truly was an accident.
It was sixteen years ago that I went through that. My sweet friend would sit by my bedside so that I wasn't alone there in the hospital. She would comb my hair as I could only lay there. She would listen to me as I told her about the accident. She would bring classmates with her to visit. She brought a card that her mother had sent to me. Of all the things that we shared, experienced and talked about, I'm humbled that one small part of my story gave her a sense of peace when she needed it most. She knew that the policemen were just "doing their job" when questioning her.
As I laid there in my hospital room the first night, I couldn't believe I was there. I had never known a burn victim. I couldn't believe that I had been in a freak accident and that I had been on fire. It was just strange to me. And then being a "burn victim" really became real the next morning. At that point in my life, it was the most painful thing I had ever been through, yet the most miraculous time of my life. People pointed out what a trial it was, but I saw it differently. Looking back, it was. My baby didn't know me anymore. The pain was unbearable at times. Having my husband in his most demanding semester in dental school was difficult and lonely. Worrying if my grafts would take. The financial worries of it all. But I can honestly say that the entire experience was worth going through if that one sentence, "They're just doing their job" was to merely give my friend some peace sixteen years later.
I've been thinking about it all day. We never realize how our lives and the things that we go through impact other people's lives. How we gain strength from others. How we find the courage from watching others. How we have empathy towards others because of our own experiences. Makes me think differently about all that I've gone through, am going through and will someday go through.
Still praying for my friend and her sweet family.
It was such a sweet visit this morning. Just two good friends talking at 5:30 in the morning because she was sleepless in Seattle. And any other morning if you need it. XOXO