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About the Writer:
Cindy Amelung

With a warm heart and a joyful spirit, Cindy reveals Godly principles and heavenly purposes for the circumstances of life. Her honesty before the Lord and in her writings help her readers connect, learn, grow and develop a contagious hope that God will bring good things from astounding situations.



The Holidays Will Be Different This Year...

By Cindy Amelung

Why? Because of January 30, 2005. Why? Because, more correctly, of the phone call I received on January 30, 2005. Why? Because of God’s mercy on January 30, 2005.

I don’t want this article to be another ‘we should make the best of the holiday season and be happy regardless of how we feel’ article. I was married for a long time and am now a divorced woman. I well remember the hassle of holidays – all the dysfunction of in-laws and out-laws. I know the holidays can be stressful, depressing and a time just to survive. I remember years when I didn’t even put up a Christmas tree because I hated the holidays so much and I will probably never go real crazy with decorating and holiday cheer. I have, however, had my perspective altered because of January 30, 2005 .

So what’s the significance of January 30, 2005 ? A phone call I received. A phone call no one should ever have to receive. A phone call that I still can’t believe I did receive. It was from my son-in-law, informing me there had been a car accident. My family was torn apart. My son-in-law was in one hospital, my grandson airlifted to a different hospital and my daughter airlifted to another hospital. I wasn’t home at the time he called, so I had to listen to this horrendous news on my answering machine. As I stood in my kitchen that cold winter day, I could feel my breathing get shallow; I was lightheaded and stood frozen to the spot. At first I couldn’t even pick up my feet. I heard the panic in his voice and knew something was very wrong – I’d never heard him sound quite like that and even without knowing any details, I knew it was bad.

There was a second message on the machine from my ex-husband’s wife and she was crying so hard I had to replay the message 3 times before I could understand what she was saying. What she was saying was awful. I kept shaking my head as if to make the bad words go away. No matter what I did, the bad words just wouldn’t go away. My first reaction was to pack a bag with peanut butter, jelly, bread, a knife and dinner napkins. To this day, I still don’t understand why I did that, but that simple task seemed to finally unfreeze me to do what needed doing.

When I got to the hospital, my mother and I didn’t know what to expect. My daughter was in critical condition in ICU and we were told it wasn’t good. Nothing can prepare you for that first look at your child. Nothing. The room was buzzing with nurses and machinery and bright lights. I could hear monitors beeping and they seemed so loud; too loud. As I looked at my precious girl, I flashed back to when she was a little girl and how she looked when she was asleep. All arms and legs flung across the bed with her covers usually kicked off onto the floor. I still saw arms and legs flung everywhere but it took a minute to register with me that they were all akimbo because of being hooked up to machines. This was not my little girl but my grown adult daughter. Something was horribly wrong. As my brain began to register what my eyes were seeing, I could feel the shock setting in. If I hadn’t known it was my daughter, I would have never recognized her. Her face was so swollen and bruised. She was wearing a cervical collar to keep her neck steady and I watched as her own blood dripped off that collar. My brain finally registered that the sheets on her bed were red because of her own blood. I could see the glass in her hair because the overhead light was catching and reflecting off the shards.

I felt completely disconnected from myself at first. It was such a shock and I just couldn’t take it in. This can’t be real; this can’t be happening. It is a bad dream and I will wake up. This kind of thing happens to someone else; not my family; not my only child. Why won’t she open her eyes? Why does she feel so cold to the touch? Will I hurt her if I touch her? Where can I touch her so that I don’t disturb a machine or a tube? This cannot be happening.

But it was. It was happening. It was happening to my daughter; my child; my little girl. I remember the haunted look my mother had all that first night. Her eyes filled with tears but she was completely unable to carry on a conversation. I remember being told to go home and get some sleep and then being called back 30 minutes later. Being told on the phone that she wouldn’t survive the night and to go get her husband out of the hospital and bring him so he could say good-bye. Earlier in the evening, we had several visitors – friends and church staff that I cherish and were so wonderful to pray with us. I didn’t know how bad things were when all the visitors were there. If I had known, I might not have let anyone leave. I would have hung on for dear life; I was hanging on for dear life, for the dear life of my child.

I remember the trauma surgeon coming out at 3 a.m. to tell me he was taking her to surgery a second time but the surgery would have to be done at the bedside in ICU because she would die before he could take her to an actual surgical suite. I still remember how serious and somber he was as he told her father and I that she probably wouldn’t survive the night or the surgery. He explained that he felt he had to at least try to stop the bleeding. Her father fell apart and I just stood there numb. How can I go back and tell my mother that her precious granddaughter might not survive the night? How do I ever take that in for myself? I remember sitting in the waiting room just wanting her to live and trying to figure out how to prepare myself if she didn’t make it. I watched my son-in-law, in shock and tremendous physical pain, trying to take in what was happening. His wife was not expected to live and his son was in another hospital and he was helpless to protect them. He was badly injured and in need of medical attention himself but all he asked for was for everyone to pray for his wife. That’s all he wanted from anyone. I wanted so desperately for my daughter to live and yet I couldn’t seem to pray. I kept thinking what was wrong with me that I couldn’t pray, but I finally had to rest in the fact that others were already starting to pray for my family and they ‘stood in the gap’.

Why will the holidays be different this year? Because of January 30, 2005 . Because nine months later, my daughter is still here. Because my son-in-law is still here. Because my grandson is still here. Because God could have taken them from me and didn’t. His mercy has been poured out on my family in a powerful way. Physically they have all healed. There are scars, physical reminders, and some lifestyle changes necessitated because of the accident.

All the doctors, nurses, paramedics and policemen were unanimous in their disbelief that my daughter and her little family survived the accident. The trauma surgeon was very candid in his conversations with me – she should not be here. He usually always loses patients that have the kind of severe injuries she sustained. He shook his head in amazement every time he saw her for a follow up visit because she shouldn’t be here. It took 5 surgeries over 16 days before he would declare her to be ‘out of the woods’. Six weeks after the accident she went home. Four months after the accident, with tears in his eyes, the trauma surgeon hugged us both and released her from his care.

This side of eternity, I will never be able to explain all of God’s purposes in allowing this accident. I remember the only thought that sustained me during the whole ordeal was that this went through God’s Hands before it touched my kids and He had intent and purpose in allowing it. I can testify of two certainties that came from this horrific experience; one, only good has come from this accident – it may be one of the best things that has ever happened to our family. I wish I could share the entire list of all the good that has occurred but I wish to respect my daughter’s privacy. Secondly, the holidays will be different and more special this year because I still have my little family. My kids complain about the ugly physical scars they carry now – to me, they are the most beautiful scars I have ever laid eyes on; they are the scars of life. Now I think I understand why the nail prints in Jesus’ Hands must be beautiful to Him. They are the scars of eternal life. They are the scars that gave His children back to Him.

Yes, the holidays will be different for me this year. Why? Because of January 30, 2005 ……

Copyright © November 17, 2005 – Cindy Amelung. All rights reserved.


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