At the very moment my husband was in surgery having his vertebrae fused, my coworkers who are also my friends materialized in the hospital’s family waiting center. So many people wanted to help, they said, and Rebecca organized a meal train to facilitate that. Since the accident, friends have brought or bought our family a meal twice a week, and that is in addition to many others who left behind their 9×13 pans of love. I heard the meal train filled so quickly that people were denied. Those lovely people shut out of the official list sent us restaurant or grocery gift cards. We will not go hungry anytime soon!
The train has left the station for good. Just now, I was washing out the cooler that sat outside our door for almost three months to prepare it for its return to Rebecca’s house. I was reminded again that the accident–a wife and mom’s worst nightmare realized–has also shown me the absolute best in generosity and support from those who surround us.
Thank you. I’ll never be able to repay you—and I hope you NEVER need a meal train. But if you do, I hope you have remarkable people in your lives the way we do.
How do I begin to thank the people who gave us life? Friends, family, and neighbors showed up and stepped up to do what I either couldn’t literally or “couldn’t” figuratively. I want every single one of you who sent us even one positive or kind thought to know that it mattered. I truly believe that those messages were what helped pull my husband through those early days of intensive and acute trauma care.
My sister- and brother-in-law picked up the kids to bring them to the hospital that first terrible, terrible night. My parents dropped everything to arrive at our house before the kids got home from school the day after. My best friend booked a flight and spent “vacation” days here.
Our friend P.J. showed up with a huge, still warm! pan of food for us on the Wednesday after the accident. I can recall holding that Rubbermaid container against my belly, with tears in my eyes gushing that it was still warm. How do you thank someone for showing up with sustenance at a time like this? I recall that I lapped it up almost animal-like, barely taking the time even to taste that savory Alfredo sauce as I turned back around to pack up an overnight bag. Tom had asked me to sleep at the hospital that night before the surgery, and there was nowhere else I could possibly be. Not that I slept, of course, but semantics, you understand.
Our neighbor Neil brought over the absolute best lasagna I’ve eaten ever in my entire life a day or two later. I’d thought to ask him for the recipe, but nothing will ever taste as good as that lasagna did to me that week. I’d never duplicate the taste or supreme satisfaction I derived from every slice. Since the accident, Neil has taken care of our lawn. How do I ever repay him for that? How could he ever possibly know how much it’s meant to me?? I can cut the lawn, and so could have the boys, but Neil did it every time. Even when I’d mentally say, “OK, tomorrow is grass-cutting day,” I swear he’d be up and running laps in our yard before I could get out there myself. The weekend prior to the accident, my husband had reseeded the entire yard, and it would have broken me for it to have failed without the care it needed. Now, thanks to Neil, the green, green lawn will be a lasting testament this “period of time” (The Accident) and the growth that can occur under expert guidance and tender care. There might be some kind of metaphor there, I don’t know.
Jane picked up my boys so they could just hang out with her boys on a Sunday afternoon, like they did before. And let me tell ya about the garlic bread!
Paul and His Crew of Dudes came over to take our patio set out of winter storage. Sitting on my patio drinking AM coffee or reading under the sun is a slice of happy place for me. I was elated to be able to sit outside once Tom was released from the hospital. Even when the breaks I got were brief, sitting outside in the happy place was a break I cherished.
My Speech cluster colleagues, my former coworkers at Grant, teachers from my son’s school, my husband’s coworkers, neighbors, my son’s baseball team, even strangers! sent gifts for our family.
To the people who sent us those restaurant gift cards, I’m forever in your debt. Not having to cook in the immediate, with the added bonus of not having to purchase groceries has meant a world of difference this summer. To the people who sent us money. . . At first I didn’t get it–I felt like a thief. Prior to the accident, I didn’t fully understand why people enclosed cash with get-well or sympathy cards. Oh, but I do now! To be able to give the kids a couple bucks to run to the store or to buy some goodies at a baseball tournament and not have to hit up an ATM or count the pennies? A gift. I’ve been crabbing about getting docked 7+ days of pay, and while I’m real ornery about that, we have been so fortunate not to have fallen into desperate financial straits.
I almost want to publish a list of names, like an honor roll, but how inadequate and lame is that? I’ve been pretty good about thank you notes and messages via social media, but I know I’m forgetful. I’m sorry to anyone I’ve missed, but know that some form of written thanks is getting there.
I’m back at work, but I don’t know how to “be” now that I’m thrust back into a social arena. Staring at my feet is OK for now, but it won’t work for the long haul. My husband has been released from the neck brace, so the bone breaks are recovering, which couldn’t have come at a better time now that Wendy’s summer Uber project has to be placed on hold. But I never don’t worry. Sometimes I feel that because he has achieved the gains he’s fought for so far, people believe he’s “back to normal.” He’s not. He’s healing, present progressive. Healing to a degree I’d never have dreamt three short (but really long!) months ago. Still it’s been only three months. You bet I worry.
I know there’ve been an abundance of quotation marks in this post. Sorry, but there’s still no font for my tone of voice. If you know me, you know how to “read” me. And if you don’t, I bet what you imagine isn’t too far from my heavily-inflected, maybe a bit quieter these days though vocal tone reality. Anyway.