Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bloody and Bruised - Someone to Blame

A couple of weeks ago I listened to Anne Beiler (she is the Anne from Auntie Anne's Pretzels) and her husband Jonas tell a painful story of how they lost their two year old daughter in a tragic accident many years ago.  How did she die?  At the wheel of a large farm tractor driven by Anne's own sister.  With tears in my eyes, I listened in amazement while Anne told their story of pain, love, and forgiveness.  She never once blamed her sister for what happened to her child.  I had listended to this very story once before maybe six months ago, but when I saw it on again a couple of weeks ago, something made me watch, though after that day I didn't think of it again until tonight when I saw my own son bloody and bruised as my husband led him towards me. 
I know now that God was the "something" that made me watch it again two weeks ago, though at that time I had no idea why I was drawn to listen to such a sad story again.  The words of love and forgiveness that Anne spoke concerning her sister who accidently brought Anne's two year old daughter to an early death were truly gripping and inspiring.  I was touched when I heard the story both times, and though my own story from tonight involves only an injury to my child, it also involves forgiveness in the place of needing someone to blame.  Tonight, I remembered Anne's words to her sister when I looked at my husband with blame and anger.  God knew tonight was going to happen before it did, so He planted seeds of forgiveness in my mind long before I even knew why I needed them. 

Only hours earlier in the afternoon, I was out riding my bike  (see entry titled One Moment in Time) when I came in to start writing.  Before I started, I told Ashton that he and I would ride bikes again when I was finished, but it took me longer than I thought so I suggested that Sam take him instead.  They left for a bike ride and I finished my entry.  After awhile I started watching for them out the window and even looked out back, but there was no sign.  I wondered if they had gone where I told Sam earlier in the week I didn't want Ashton being, but decided not to worry about it.  I knew they were fine.  Well, a few more minutes went by and I headed to the front door to look out.  There they were, walking my way.  The minute I saw Sam carrying Ashton's bike, I knew something wasn't right but it didn't register until I walked out to meet them.  Immediately, Sam put his hand up in the air as if to halt me where I stood as the words "He had a bad fall" came from his mouth.  At the very moment he said it, I was close enough to see the blood stained face of my son and his head without a helmet. 

My eyes desperately trying to fill with tears, I held them back as I grabbed our son.  Once I had him in my arms, I turned a hot stare towards my husband and with just a look demanded answers.  My blood boiled when I realized he had never put Ashton's helmet on and with fire in my eyes I accused him without saying a word.  "This is your fault," my eyes screamed as I rushed Ashton into the house past him.   As Ashton cried, a gentle calmness swept over me for our son's sake and I instantly tried to ease his pain, but because of the injury to his head we decided he needed professional medical attention.  The fire I was ready to spit at my husband would have to wait.

In the car on the way to the emergency room, I calmly asked what happened, but no answer satisfied me because of his missing helmet.  I felt an anger hotter than the pits of hell but vowed to postpone my wrath until our son was safely checked out.  Somewhere between our house and the hospital, I remembered the story of Anne Beiler.  God was trying to soften me, and for a minute I even considered how guilty Sam must have felt and still be feeling.  "I yelled at him once several weeks ago for not putting a helmet on Ashton" I angrily retorted to God in my head.  With that, I pushed the Anne Beiler story out of my head and focused on comforting our child. 

Once at the hospital, I refused to let Sam carry him in and because I then felt the strength of ten horses, I wouldn't have let anyone else carry him anyway.  "You've done enough," I thought in my head, but before we were even inside I thought of Anne Beiler's story again.  Rather, God gently pushed it back into the front of my memory bank.  Within minutes I felt myself becoming sensitive to what Sam must have been feeling when he saw it happen.  Though I wasn't there, he told me that Ashton wasn't able to get his brakes to work and when they failed he was thrown head first over the front of his bike onto the concrete sidewalk.  As I shuddered to think about it, I realized how terrifying it would have been for me had I seen it happen.  It was no less terrifying for Sam.  With the increasing conversation coming from our son, my anger was subsiding and I started trying to put myself in Sam's place and let go of that anger.  

I will never know what he felt in that very moment when he saw our son be thrown from his bike face and head down onto the hard pavement, but how haughty of me to act like the same couldn't happen on my own watch!  Could I blame him for not making Ashton wear a helmet?  I could, but would it change what happened?  I cannot stand that Ashton wasn't wearing one, but as I lay in bed next to him before I started writing this, I just watched him sleep with tears in my eyes.  I was so thankful that he was okay and laying next to me.  He looks pretty banged up and it hurts my heart to see the cleaned up, but still bloody marks on his body and face - but thanks be to my Father in Heaven that Ashton is sleeping in the bed next to me under my careful watch tonight and not laying in a hospital bed somewhere facing the worst.  Thank God my story has a happier outcome than the Anne Beiler's of today. 

Sam was devastated with what happened to our son and the guilt he will no doubt carry for not having put a helmet on him is something awful.  Guilt is probably one of the ugliest forms of self-torture that we inflict upon ourselves in life, and as parents I don't know if it's possible to not feel it at some time or another.   What's important is that we don't beat people down with it the way I almost tried to do with my husband tonight.  It's always pretty easy to find someone to blame for our "bloody and bruised" situations in life, but instead of looking for that person - maybe we should look for someone to love instead.  If we busy ourselves blaming people for what they've done wrong, then we're wasting that time when it could be spent loving someone.  When you're looking for someone to blame, try to re-direct your thoughts onto someone to love.  If you already have someone to blame, try to remember that you're not above being blamed yourself one day.  None of us are perfect!  My son is banged up, but after a tub of ice cream when he got home, I began to realize that today is a day he'll soon toss into his bag of "cool bike accidents."  Life is too short to spend it blaming people for what they do wrong or what they forget to do right.  Spend it loving as deeply as you can! 

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