When Broken Bones Resurrect a Heart

Summer began full of glory. I planted colorful annuals. Strung the bistro lights. Dusted off the swim towels.

Our first guest brought chilled wine and we enjoyed grilled chicken on the deck.

Work slowed. Our newly turned 16-year old drove himself to his job. The 10-year old walked to the pool alone. The new teen was babysitting.

It was the first week and all seemed divine.

Cue record scratching (the new teen argues the sound should be that of a pristine stained glass window crashing to the marble floor of a European cathedral). She should get to decide. After all, it’s her story.

On the last day of the first week, she played wildly with her babysitting charges, jumped high on the trampoline, splashed in the hose strung from above, and landed in all the wrong ways. Ten hours later, after x-rays, cat scans, morphine, surgery, and anesthesia, she left the ER with several screws, plates, and a cast the size of a ski boot.

Summer abruptly ended.

I left the hospital numb, but the emotions were not far behind. On day one, I snuck away to cry. Big fat tears streaming down my face for all the losses: her favorite camp, her first job, the 5 days my husband and I planned for ourselves. I also ate: big handfuls of chips and lots of bites of all the sweets family had brought.

On day two, I cleaned. Like a mad woman, I decided to empty our closet of old clothes and file cabinets of graduate papers from 8 years ago.

On day three, I realized I was feeling everything with far more intensity than my daughter. I wondered, perhaps the gravity of it all hasn’t set in. Maybe the deluge of grief will come soon. Yet she seemed happy, chipper.

We drove to the medical supply store to rent a wheelchair and I asked her, what’s going on? Why do you seem so at peace? Why do I seem sadder than you? Teach me.

And she did. My 13-year old injured child had found goodness in the hurt: she felt loved by all the calls, texts, gifts, and visits. Because of her pain, she felt embraced.

My new teen had a long approach to life: there will be more summers, more camp weeks and more opportunities. Life has not ended, though her previously planned summer had.

And this child who self-admittedly lacked gratitude, lay in bed thanking God. Thanking him that it was not her head. Thanking him that it was not the kids she babysat. Thanking him that she would heal and be well again. She had found the gift in the wound. In 3 days.

And so on day 3, I resurrected.

I decided to come out of the grave of grief and join my daughter in the land of the gospel, where hope reigns and the messy beautiful lives.

If my daughter could choose to see goodness despite her discomfort, dependence on help, and overwhelming loss, then who was I to remain melancholy and mopey? If her eyes were set on gratitude, how could I not join her?

Did it dismiss the pain? Did it remove the grief? Of course not. But it aligned our eyes to the one who offers comfort: to see the gift, and gaze upon the giver.

My daughter broke her leg and then she showed me the gospel.