i was standing outside my car on oak street, waiting for a text back from ian. i think it was just a simple text about loving him, but he was always quick to get back to me, especially those types of messages. jan and i had just gotten back from a morning trip to greensburg for our friend’s wedding shower gift, which happened to be that afternoon. i walked off oak street and into the house, quickly wrapping gifts and getting ready for the shower. still no word from ian. i had only talked to him the night before, his grandparents were in town and he was heading over to david’s for a night with his guys as i was heading out the driveway. we hugged in the driveway, he in a huge, absurd jacket to keep him warm on his few mile walk. he was requesting blueberry pancakes the next morning from his mom, to enjoy with his grandparents. he was going to be leaving in the morning to drive to pittsburgh to work, and wanted me or caleb to go with him, but both of us were busy.
after wrapping gifts, hopping into my car to drive to the shower, still no word from ian. maybe he lost his phone. i met up with mary at the shower and started laughing with all of my girlfriends. my worry for ian wasn’t in the way, I just wanted to hear from him. the shower started and we opened with a time of prayer and worship. a song with the chorus of trusting god. trusting god. trusting god. somehow amidst our singing, carolyn, our host, was able to hear her phone ringing. able to give the phone to mary. steve was on the other line. mary reached her arm around me and whispered, “ian was in an accident. he’s in a pittsburgh hospital. we need to go.” then my crying, quick fearful hugs from friends, a car ride to meet steve, questions, questions, questions.
we met steve at ian’s house, and i think that we were all clueless to what we should be thinking or feeling. steve had talked to the social worker from the hospital, the call that no one wants to get but too many people do. all we knew was what mary had already told me. so we started driving the hour long drive. that worship chorus running through my head. my only adjoining thought of please god, don’t let it be his head. anything but his head. i didn’t know anything about head injuries, but i told god that i could handle anything but that.
the hospital came and so did the social worker. and ian’s belongings. and after what felt like years, the news that ian was in brain surgery, had significant brain damage, and we wouldn’t know until surgery was done if he would even last through the night. my wonderful boyfriend, in an instant of distraction while driving to work, was slammed under an SUV and extracted by the jaws of life. who ian was for 21 years was left in the car that was towed off the highway.
david came, my parents and sister came, ian’s family came. all in the first night. we tried to sleep on the floor of the waiting room, but sleep was gone. my mom came with me the first time i went in to see ian after surgery, the only skin i could easily find were his right fingers, which were so close to his poor, injured brain. but he was there. somewhere. and he was fighting.
the next few days are a blur, snippets of memories of people, scripture, prayer, hope, fears, crying. reports that ian was failing three out of five brain activity tests. meeting with the murphy boys, mary and steve to talk about ian’s funeral. we had to prepare. we prayed for miracles but since it was our family, our lives, we had to be ready. ready even though caleb’s words “he’s not dead yet” turned out to be more true than we realized at the time.
the blur continues and i’m sure if i referenced my old journals my memory would be jolted, but one morning, a few days after september 30, a waiting room just down the hall from the first, we were told that ian was over the hump, a hump that we didn’t know existed. overnight his brain began responding. overnight god baffled the doctors. overnight god mercifully answered our pleas. overnight god showed us that he had more plans for ian. we would later find out, four years later, from ian’s brain surgeon, that ian was the sickest patient he had ever seen who lived. the sickest patient. who lived.
five years ago today. one post today on the anniversary does not come near to saying all that needs to be said of god and all that needs to be said of ian and of his family and my hope is that someday we say it in a book. my heart could say 1,000 things but this morning, i’m sitting in our home, drinking tea and smelling baking apple crisp, ian comfortably resting underneath our feather blanket. our dear cousin is here visiting, bringing with her many laughs, and tomorrow caleb will marry our best friend. we have five nieces and nephews, and ian’s company gets to work from our home. and one of us has already claimed his reward in heaven and ian will get there too. and i see that our lives are full. they are sad and exhausting, but they are full. and god is the one who has filled them.
for five years of moving through this with us, thank you.