Musings on December 27

I can’t find the photos from our particular accident, but this will give you the gist.

I can’t find the photos from our particular accident, but this will give you the gist.

December 27 isn’t our anniversary. It’s not the birthday of anyone in our immediate family. Christmas has just passed, and New Year’s Day is still a few days away. Nonetheless, December 27 is a weirdly important day for our family.

On December 27, 2007, while on our way home from visiting my family for Christmas, my husband and I were rear-ended by an RV. The RV’s forward speed was approximately 60mph. Our forward speed was exactly zero. The impact started a chain-reaction crash that involved five other cars and sent the people in the car next to us to the hospital. It totaled our car and gave my cello, secured in the back seat, a soundpost crack, which is one of the worst things that can happen to a stringed instrument.

Sounds pretty bad, and it was. But, as is so often the case with our worst moments, that was when God showed up, both in the immediate aftermath and in the eleven years that have passed since then. Here are just a few:

  • We were not seriously hurt. The paramedics at the scene were dumbfounded when we told them which car we’d crawled out of, a car so mangled and crushed that the firefighters who arrived didn’t even see it at first. But my husband suffered only whiplash, and my injuries were only a slightly sprained right thumb and a scratch on my nose from the airbag.

My husband and me, a day after the accident. We took this pic to prove to my worried mother that we were, indeed fine.

My husband and me, a day after the accident. We took this pic to prove to my worried mother that we were, indeed fine.

  • My cello was not only repaired, but redeemed. This  particular post crack was a re-opening—and enlarging—of a similar crack it suffered earlier that year. The resulting damage, although repaired, seriously devalued my instrument. Although this didn’t affect the sound, it was still a little demoralizing to have an instrument valued at a third of what it had been. However. This crack was repaired by a different shop—my regular luthier was hundreds of miles away in Wichita and not able to take on the job—and repaired in a different way. When I got my cello back, I was floored. Not only was the sound not worse, it was actually better. My cello, although beautiful in tone, was never a particularly loud instrument, and I’d struggled against that in the ten years I’d had it. But after the repair, its volume was significantly increased. As if I needed further convincing of how much God came through for me, the luthier then presented me with an updated appraisal of the cello. The newly-appraised amount was for the original value of the instrument when I purchased it. The exact same dollar amount it had been worth before any of the post cracks occurred.

  •  I’ve saved the most significant impact for last, because it’s still rippling to this day, and no doubt will for years to come. Although we were unhurt, and although my cello was repaired, the weeks following the accident were a difficult time for me. I suffered panic attacks, strange dreams, and a general feeling of being “off” both mentally and emotionally. It was during these trying weeks that I began writing.

    It started slow at first. I dreamed a scene so vivid that I got up and turned it into a short story. That was so much fun I tried a longer story. And a longer one. And eventually a novel. And then another one. And another one. At first it was a way to escape from the icky feelings I was having (I eventually was diagnosed with—and received counseling for—PTSD, and I am most grateful that the panic attacks and other symptoms are a thing of the past). But what I thought was a coping mechanism, just a way to make it through the day, was actually the genesis of a call to write. And now, eleven years and countless steps of courageous, “Are you sure about this, God?!” obedience, here I am. Still writing, and now with a handful of contest wins, a few completed manuscripts, an agent, and a project on submission. What’s more, I’ve made some amazing friends and had some unbelievable experiences during the eleven years I’ve been a writer, experiences I very well might not have had if not for that motorhome that rear-ended us.

A strange footnote: Two weeks before Christmas, 2016, my husband fell off a ladder while hanging lights and seriously cut his ankle. To make a long story short, the wound got infected, and so, two years ago today, on December 27, we rushed him to the ER to learn he had developed both cellulitis and sepsis. The resulting nine-day hospital stay and months of recovery were far from easy, but once again, we saw God show up. Friends rallied around us, people we didn’t even know prayed for us, family stepped up to help time and time again. Although it took a while, my husband is fully healed now, and he’s stopped taking good health for granted and has made a lot of significant positive changes.

It’s only been two years since that December 27, so obviously I haven’t seen all the ripple effects I can from the first December 27. However, I know I will. And I know that whatever other December 27s occur in my life, whether on that actual day or not, God will show up, He’ll see me through, and He’ll do the kind of amazing things that only He can.

Do you have a December 27? I’d love to hear about it.