7 min read
A lesson in courage
by Cathy Lynn Gregory
When my daughter first began driving, I became a nervous wreck. She had a difficult time focusing and would panic or get angry whenever I would give her sound advice. Each time she nearly drove us into the ditch, I panicked and admittedly my voice would elevate into shrill reprimands, which added to the tense situation. In another near-fatal event, she removed her hands from the steering wheel and blurted out, “I give up.” After that, I decided it best to enroll her in the local driving course. Breathing a sigh of relief, I hoped this choice might lesson the emotional charge between us and allow time for my nerves to calm and my thinning hair to grow back!
It wasn’t long afterward she obtained her driver’s license and purchased a reliable used Honda hatchback. Each time she drove, I prayed fervently, “Dear God, let the angels surround her with your protection and light, and keep her from harm’s way.” I prayed this prayer every time she left the house. I imagined a white light surrounding her and angel’s wings guarding the front of her car like a golden-winged bumper shield. I had no other power other than to trust God. Even so, my worrisome mind would create images I didn’t want to think about, and it wasn’t long before my worst fears were realized.
One afternoon I drove to pick up my son after school. Usually, I called him to coordinate our rendezvous, but instead of our usual chatter, the voice on the other end was somber. “Mom,” he said, “Lib’s been in an accident, and it’s just around the corner from where you are.” My heart plunged into my stomach and cautiously I turned the corner to spy a storm* of flashing red lights and yellow tape stretched across the road. Several police cars swarmed the perimeter and an ambulance had just arrived. I couldn’t see her vehicle through the thick crowd that had gathered, so I looked for a place to park and spied a vacant lot across the road. For minutes I sat in my car, mustering the courage to enter the horrific scene. I couldn’t move because I have immense anxiety and a history of fainting, The fear of entering this scene, without knowing what I was about to witness, was beyond anything I could bear. If I fainted, the authority’s attention would be on me instead of my precious daughter. My knees felt so weak, I couldn’t move. I needed to be brave, so I prayed: “Dear God, I need you now more than ever, please give me the courage to see my daughter. I need to be with her.”
As soon as I felt some peace, I calmly exited the car and walked to the ominous scene that was cordoned off with yellow tape. As I approached, a police officer stopped me and said: “Ma’am, this area is off-limits.” With unusual courage, I looked him square in the eye and answered boldly: “I am her mother, let me through.” Taken back by my determination, the officer relinquished, and let me through. A sense of peace flooded my body and I moved quickly toward her vehicle., Police and paramedics were scrambling to rescue her from the mangled blue heap that lay in the road. As they pulled her out on a stretcher, the crowd grew silent, and I helplessly watched and waited. My daughter’s body lay eerily still upon the stretcher, blood streaming from her right ear. I couldn’t move or breathe, and in some kind of strange time-warp, seconds seemed like foreboding hours. I’ll never know what happened in that hushed silent space, but suddenly my daughter began screaming hysterically. The officer holding the stretcher jumped and looked somewhat frightened; I imagined he didn’t know what to do with a hysterically screaming teenage girl. I wanted to tell him, no one knows what to do with a hysterically screaming teenage girl! I felt my fear turn to elation. That beautiful scream, that beautiful teenage girl scream. A shriek that I had come to loathe in years past, suddenly sounded like a chorus of angels. Normally, she screamed when she couldn’t find the right outfit for school or had trouble getting her new contacts in. This time was different. It was a familiar comforting sound. I don’t know at that moment if I was laughing but I do remember the officer looking at me strangely. What he couldn’t understand, was that scream, so shrill yet so beautiful to me, meant she was alive!
Calmly, I followed the ambulance to the hospital where doctors and nurses spent hours examining her. With the exception of glass shards embedded in her face, they assured me she was going to be okay. My worst fears had not come true. God answered my prayers. Being hours alone in the cold hospital was difficult, so I called my priest Fr. Gary and he immediately agreed to meet me at the hospital. His practical and jovial demeanor gave me the emotional support I needed and he stayed with me until she was released. At one point he commented on how calm I was. I didn’t share with him that I had prayed for courage and God had answered my prayer.
In my hour of need, God gave me the strength and courage to face the challenge before me. He protected my mind and heart from fear, keeping me calm in the midst of the storm. I discovered the truth of Philippians 4:13
(“I can do all things through him who gives me strength” – NIV)
For many years this scripture remained fixed to my refrigerator as a reminder that with Him there is nothing I can’t conquer. He alone is the conqueror of fear, in life and in death. In my hour of need, God delivered me. He lifted my fears and gave me hope and courage; he granted me the strength I needed to get through my daughter’s accident. I am thankful and humbled as I know things could have turned out dramatically different. I am thankful for the courage and commitment of the paramedics, police officers, doctors, and nurses who took care of my daughter. I am thankful for the loving support of my priest. Most of all I am thankful to a loving God for His grace and presence in my life.
from: Into the Garden:
lessons on a spiritual journey
by Cathy Lynn Gregory
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