“Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.” Wayne Dyer
There is so much truth in this, yet the times when miracles occur can be among the most difficult. It has been a challenging few days for me with the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and today, the anniversary of what I think of as “The Accident.” Our miracle was in moments, less than five. So long when you are watching the clock, but a blink when you live it.
The call came around 5:30 that Monday afternoon as I was settling in to work late at home. There has been an accident. It’s bad and Maggie (my granddaughter) is being airlifted. You need to go. As I drive to the hospital, I can’t reach my youngest daughter. She is studying at the library and her phone is on silent. My husband is hours away, offshore on an oil platform, and there is no answer. The rest of my small family was in the accident. I arrive at the same time as the helicopter, but I can’t find a place to park. I see them running to get her, little pink sneakers going by on the stretcher. A man gives me his parking place and I am hustled to a hallway and told not to move. ”She is the grandmother – she can sign.” ”We are working on her – you can’t see her.” I am given a bag with her clothes – they have been cut off of her – and those pink sneakers. The nurse warns me that the doctor is blunt. I’m okay with that so long as he’s good. He comes out and quickly tells me the risks of surgery. Dear God, how do I sign for this? My daughter is not even here and what if I am wrong. This is her baby. The doctor looks me in the eyes and says, ” I tell you these risks, because I must. You don’t really have a choice. She WILL die if I don’t do this now.” I sign and pray with each stroke of my name. My youngest daughter arrives on the heels of the ambulance transporting my older daughter and grandson. I send her to check on her sister, I am needed for the children. The ambulance was so far behind because they had to be cut from the car. We are in the ER where my daughter is a nurse. Her co-workers stunned, yet having to do their jobs. She knows it’s bad from their faces (some with tears streaming down their cheeks), but she is seriously injured and they don’t want to tell her until she can be fully assessed. Then she sees the organ donation team and the priest. Now she is frantic and I am called to calm her. What do I say? I never lie to my children and she is demanding I tell her the truth. I see the doctor pass with Maggie on the way to surgery. He stops and comes in to tell my daughter “It’s Dr. C. You don’t worry, I am going to save your baby.” He motions me out to tell Maggie goodbye and give her a kiss. The nurse hands us a plastic bag with the Pandora bracelet and silly bands from her birthday a few days before. I finally speak to my husband, so far away, and give him the news. I hate making this call with him unable to even attempt to come home till the following day, but he has to know. Hours go by and finally the doctor comes out. It went okay. Her skull was too fractured to repair, he has replaced the right side with a titanium plate. There was a mid-line brain shift and he had less than five minutes to save her. He did the best he could. I can be with her in PICU once they settle her. My youngest daughter and my sister are deployed to the other hospital rooms. My oldest daughter, suffering major concussions, only marginally pacified when promised I will not leave Maggie’s side and her sister will remain with Jack. The state trooper tells me it was a drunk driver and gives me more info. Then he asks if he can check on the children when he gets off. He comes back around 3 am, still in his uniform, and silently weeps at my granddaughter’s bedside as he bends his head in prayer.
I am happy to report that Maggie made a recovery that has been nothing short of a miracle. Off the ventilator within 18 hours and home only six days later. Back at school in only two weeks, though it was part-time at first. She got her braces off and danced in her ninth dance recital in April. She competed for and was awarded a spot on the school dance team in May and moved on to the seventh grade. The scar is now hidden by a cute little pixie ‘do. All three will serve in our Bride’s wedding next month. Slowly they are regaining what was taken from them last year.
As we pieced together the events of that day, it became clear that the five minutes the neurosurgeon needed came by way of Maggie’s mother. She was unconscious and trapped in the car. When she came to, her ER training took over. She could not see either child, but barked questions at both – getting responses from Jack and none from Maggie. The medic was preparing to transport Maggie to a small regional hospital with no trauma services via ambulance. She demanded a helicopter for Maggie and transport for all of them to the trauma center a little further away. Saving critical moments that made all the difference, paired with the efforts of so many dedicated professionals, including my injured daughter, ready to seize them and deliver a miracle.