I’ve been feeling for a while that I needed to write this story. I am awake at 3 am and can’t stop thinking about it. If there is anything I have learned from this experience it’s that I need to follow promptings that come from the Holy Spirit. Because it was a traumatic and sacred experience for me, I’ve been avoiding writing it down, not wanting to relive it. I think it is always hard to share experiences like this, not wanting to say the wrong thing, but it is my experience and it’s true.
My family was together in Santa Barbara for my sister Annie’s wedding in May. Sam and I had flown out from Alabama with our four children, Sammy(8), Luke(7), Henry(4), and Vivienne(1). The boys in my family had planned a boating day trip a couple days after the wedding. It had been planned way in advance with family friends helping to make the whole thing happen. The night before this trip was to happen I woke up in a panic. I looked at Sam and said “You can’t go!” and he said something to the effect of “I don’t feel good about it either.” I went to sleep with a bad feeling in my gut. In the morning I questioned my feelings. I was so exhausted from planning and executing a wedding as well as traveling with 4 young kids across the country. I didn’t want to seem selfish like I didn’t want Sam to go on this trip because I just didn’t want to have to watch the kids by myself when I was feeling so run down. Up until the seconds before the boys left Sam and I were still going back and forth, which seems strange now since we both felt so bad about it. Why didn’t we just listen? Well, all the boys in my family were going, my 5 brothers, 2 brothers in law, and my Dad. We just felt bad that he would be the only one not there and as they were calling for people to get in the car I remember the moment Sam and I looked at each other wondering what to do. I ended up being spiritually lazy and said “Just go.” I felt that it was easier for him to just go then have to explain or have people think I was being selfish, which in hind sight seems crazy.
So the boys left. None of us girls knew just how spent we all were. We took turns napping from sheer exhaustion and managing the kids and trying to clean up the wedding. We all felt like Zombies so we said let’s get out of here and go to the Zoo, do something fun. As we were preparing to go I knew some of the kids were in the front yard waiting for us to get in the car. I was grabbing my things when I heard a faint cry. It barely registered, since most of my day is filled with being a referee of little boy fights, I didn’t think much of it and then I saw little Henry running up the stairs of the front door calling for me. The next thing I saw will forever be etched in my mind. My little Sammy crushed under a huge pillar with blood everywhere. I screamed and started running. Later my Mom said when she heard that scream it was the most heart wrenching thing that she had ever heard and she knew that there was something horrible on the other end of it.
In my parents’ yard there were two huge stone pillars. I’m not sure how much they weighed, maybe 300 pounds. They seemed stable, but I guess the ground they were on was slightly unstable and the pillars weren't meant for an 8 year old to be playing on them. Sammy said later that he could have easily gotten out of the way when it started falling toward him, but he thought he could prop it back up. The pillar was way too heavy for his little body and crushed him.
When I got to him he was crying which was good, it meant he was still conscious. There was blood all around him which sent me into a panic. Even though I knew how heavy these things were I remember thinking “There is no way I am not lifting this thing off my little boy right now.” I used all my strength to pick the pillar up enough that it was hovering just above him, at this point Cubbie had reached us. She had been holding Viv, put her down to help me with the pillar. We together managed to lift the whole thing off of him. When we lifted it there was so much blood I was terrified. My mom and my sisters came rushing out to help. Someone got me a rag. He had a gaping wound on the back of his head and even though I guess you aren't supposed to move someone who might have had a neck injury, I picked him up crying, trying hold the wound and comfort him. Cubbie called the ambulance and they were out a few minutes later. As they strapped Sammy to the board, he was so scared, I held his hand and felt a strange calmness just wanting to be there for him and love him. The very big, strong paramedics surveyed the scene. I found out later that they had questioned my Mom how I could have lifted it off of Sammy, they could barely lift it themselves. I drove in the front seat of the Ambulance, they wouldn't let me in the back with him, which I thought was horrible. It was the longest ride of my life. Sammy was beside himself. I kept promising him from the front seat that he could play Wii as much as he wanted if he would try and take deep breaths and stay calm. That definitely helped him.
When we got to the hospital it was rush, rush, rush. I was asked a lot questions about what happened. Sammy was in hysterics, having a hard time calming down. They eventually took the neck brace off which helped relax him. The doctor stapled the wound in the back of his head and took him to get a CT scan. Then we waited. Sammy was conscious the whole time, but was acting off. Having crying fits every few minutes. I think we were both in shock. We would be sitting there talking or I would be singing to him and then we would take turns just crying from the trauma. This would continue for me for the next several weeks.
The CT scan came out miraculously clear. All we keep hearing was “this is one lucky boy.” He came away from the accident with a concussion, stitches, and body full of scrapes and bruises, but no permanent injury.
The way the pillar was shaped there was a slight curve inward at one point, that is where Sammy’s head was. If it had landed in any other spot it could have gone very different. I feel lucky. Maybe that’s not the right word, but that’s how I feel, very lucky and grateful that it wasn't Sammy’s time to leave the earth.
I couldn't reach Sam during any of this and by the time I did we were already home from the hospital. Sammy stayed in bed the rest on the day, just completely overcome with shock and exhaustion. When I could get a hold of Sam I could barely get the words out. It was too much.
Now, I don’t know if Sam and I had listened to the promptings we had felt for him to stay home, if this would have happened or not. What I do know is Sam wasn't supposed to go that day, even if just to be there with us when we needed to be together. I've felt very strongly about sharing this experience even though I am reluctant to. Take what you want from it, but the lesson I learned from it is LISTEN. Forget anything else and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Will will always be what is right.
I truly believe angels were watching over us that day. I know we all have experiences like these where we feel heaven a little closer. Where our views are changed about what we want our life to mean and what we want to fill that life with. This was mine.