The Unthinkable

It’s Saturday, April 27, 1991. The alarm went off at 7 a.m. and as I wiped the sleep from my eyes, I turned off the alarm. I looked out the window at an early spring, stormy day, which only added to the desire to stay in bed. Lying next to me was my husband of twelve years. Mark was slender, tall, with dark hair, which was thinning on top. His handsome face was complemented by a dark, well-trimmed beard and mustache. He liked to defend his facial hair by saying he had to grow it where he could.

Mark had a terrific sense of humor, which was another one of my favorite traits.  He was not only quick-witted but smart. He got straight A’s in college and passed the three-part test for his Master Electrician’s License on his first attempt which was uncommon.

At age thirty-five his career as an electrician was going well. He loved his work and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. His new dream job of just a few months was located in Ogden, Utah, about 60 miles from our home in Sandy. The hour-long drive each day to and from work became tiresome quickly, so we sold our home and were looking to buy a new one closer to Ogden.

After a stressful, long week of driving to Ogden every day with Mark, I just wanted to stay in bed and rest a little longer. But we had a major decision to make this day. The closing on our Sandy home was scheduled in three weeks. Our goal was to meet with the realtor and show Mark my three favorite homes and make an offer on one of them.

Mark anxiously got the kids up and after a quick breakfast, we all got dressed and rushed out the door to our Hyundai Excel. Our two children—Christopher, eight years old and Katie, seven—were sending the day at their grandparent’s house while we completed our house hunting search. We dropped them off on the way.

We arrived at the Realtor’s office and he drove us to three different locations around the Ogden area. We looked at my three favorite homes. Each one was nice and by lunch time we were still uncertain which home would be best. We decided that Mark and I should go to lunch and discuss our options and drive past each home one more time. We told the Realtor we would definitely get back with him in a few hours to make an offer on one of the homes.

As we finished our lunch, Mark suggested I drive since I had spent the past week with the Realtor and was more familiar with the area. He handed me the keys. Back in the car, we put our seat-belts on as we always did. We drove first to a home in Uintah, and then headed west to Hooper. After driving past the second home, we headed east towards the third home which was located in Ogden. We were driving on a country lane and stopped at the sign on the intersection.  Mark pointed at a subdivision across a main four-lane road in front of us.

“I think the home is just over there,” he said while looking down at the Realtor’s list to double check the address.

I pulled forward, not realizing a full-sized pickup truck was coming from the right, and unfortunately the intersection was not a four-way stop. I don’t believe Mark ever saw the truck that hit his side because there wasn’t even time for a gasp. The truck pushed us across the intersection and into a power pole which crushed the area just behind my seat, which left both sides of the car smashed. I realized we were pinned in the rubble and immediately I thanked God that the kids were not with us.

Scan0028

Mark was in the passenger’s seat when the accident happened.

Scan0026

Drivers side where power pole hit



Mark, still seat-belted in the passenger’s bucket seat, was forced behind me by the impact of the truck. I don’t remember the powerful blow his head obviously gave my chest and right shoulder as he was forced behind me by the impact.  All windows were broken and gone. The hatchback door was pushed open by the collisions on both sides, and Mark’s tools were scattered all over the road. Even though I couldn’t see Mark’s face, his complete silence told me he was unconscious.

I was aware of many people around the car trying to give assistance.

“Are you ok?” they asked.

In shock I said, “Yes,” but realized something was definitely wrong with my shoulder or collarbone because my right arm was hanging abnormally and I really struggled to breathe.

Anxious people, trying to help, reached through the empty window frames for Mark. I couldn’t believe the murmuring I heard.

“I can’t find a pulse,” one said.

And another; I can’t find one either.”

One was so bold to say, “I think he’s dead!”
Since Mark was pushed directly behind me from the waist up, all I could see were his strong hands resting on his thighs where he had been holding the Realtor’s list. I gently held his left hand and prayed silently and more sincerely than I had ever prayed before.

Please Lord, let Mark live. I can’t live without him. Please let him live.

An answer to my prayer and a sign to me that he was alive, I heard a quiet gurgle from behind me.

My struggle for each breath made me wonder if I would live. I thought of our young children, we have to live for them! Keep breathing, don’t die and don’t pass out. Please Lord, help me breathe, help me stay calm and alert. It was fearsome to have to concentrate on each breath.

I was aware of the paramedics and police approaching our car with a big crowbar and saw. One EMT asked me if I was okay, as he pried open the door.

I said “yes”, too shocked, too sick to show any emotion. I was unnaturally calm and I knew it. I felt I was having an out-of-body experience; like I was watching all these people administering to us rather than being in their midst.

“Can you walk to the stretcher?” the EMT asked as he helped me out of the car.

“I think so, but what about Mark?”

“We have another ambulance for him.”

“But he isn’t even out of the car yet, I can’t leave him.”

“They’ll get him out. We need to get you to the hospital.”

I am sure the stretcher was just a few steps away, but it felt like a long distance. I looked back at our unrecognizable car with many people around it working to get Mark out. In this unthinkable moment it was impossible for me to realize just how drastically our life would change and what we had expected would not be fulfilled. Nor did I realize the grace and love I would see in other people and the blessings that would be ours because of it.

This day effected me like no other and hopefully changed me for the better.

The words of “Beautiful Heartbreak” perfectly express how I feel about this day.

 

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “The Unthinkable

  1. Mark’s accident is one of those family ties that binds! He increased our family love; our family strength; our family devotion; our family support; our family faith, and our family joy! Your lives have contibuted to cleaning up and clearing the way along my eternal path. My perspective also is that this accident was truly a “Beautiful Heartbreak”, which continues to strengthen us as one beautiful family!

  2. I read this story that I already know, and, somewhere along the line, I wound up with my hand in front of my mouth, and my heart pounding, as if I had never heard it before, as if I didn’t know how it would turn out. I am grateful that he’s still funny and sweet. Some people with brain injury lose their personality, and I am so glad that Mark is still Mark, funny, sweet and a man of integrity. Every time I see him, he tells me about his beautiful wife. He is so smitten!

  3. You have always been and continue to be such an inspiration to me! We love your family and probably would have never known you had it not happened. Mark still has such a wonderful personality and sense of humor. I always enjoy being around your family! Thank you for the great post!

  4. April 27,is such a hard day. Thank you for writing about the beginning of this difficult but remarkable experience. It is so hard to see our wonderful kids have an experience like this. We have witnessed wonderful things because of it. Barbara, we saw your faith exercised, Heavenly Father’s care and the Lord guiding you along the way. There was and is much faith and love from family, friends and others, Barbara, we are so very PROUD of you and the example you are in your unwavering faith, willing sacrifice, hard work, patience, optimistic attitude, willing hands to help others, making a happy home where everyone loves to be and your gracious gratitude for blessings you receive. We know there must be many private moments tears are shed. Mark, we are so very PROUD of you for the wonderful example you are, always showing gratitude, patience, love for your S.U.G.A.R. your great sense of humor You may have a short term memory but your true character always shows. Your great faith shows your love for the Lord. Barbara and Mark, we appreciate all you do and the example you are to us. Through it all, both of you raised two wonderful children as well and gave them a great legacy.
    Our Love, Dad and Mom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s