I have not necessarily avoided posting this experience, nor have I thought a lot about posting it. It just hasn't come to mind until a few days ago. That day I was telling someone about it and thought " I should write this down so I don't forget it." I will say in the past I have purposely avoided writing anything about it because I didn't want to remember it. I was hoping beyond hope to be able to forget it all. Now I can see it for what it was and what I should try to remember it as. A miracle.
The day was August 4th, 2008. It was an ordinary happy, lazy summer day. Afternoon had come and the kids were starting to pour inside the house after a long day playing outside. I was beginning to drag myself around since it was then late in the afternoon and I was 25 weeks pregnant with Skyler. Jon called to let me know that he was running late and could I get Isaac to football practice. With a sigh and a heave I dragged myself, and most my children outside towards the van. We have a lot of children, so long before this day we bought a ford 15 passenger van. It's huge, more like a school bus really, but it suits our needs. It was a beast to learn to drive, but I got the hang of it quickly. While loading 5 kids into the car I turned to see Ray Green on his mountain bike in my driveway.
"Sister Loutensock, have you seen Andrew? My mom wants him home..."
Ray is a quiet, sweet boy of barely 11 and never been a bother to me. To be honest I would be hard pressed to find a single person near us that he has ever been a bother to. Just one of those quiet, good kids that you love to have as a neighbor.
"He's not here Ray, Isaac is in the car, I am taking him to football, so I don't know where he is. Sorry..."
He thanked me and rode off. I didn't think one more thing of it until about 3 minutes later. I had loaded everyone in the car, including my friends son Ian. I had to drop him off on my way to football. We got out of the driveway, and I started up the street. Our home is only two houses from the stop sign, and with a huge "dip" in the road, speeding would have been impossible. Just after the dip I started to slow to a stop before the stop sign. I casually looked to my left to see if any cars were coming. There is a tree in my neighbors yard that doesn't make it hard to see a car coming, but it might obstruct you from seeing a person on a bike. If the timing were completely wrong. Completely wrong. I was nearly to the stop sign when I caught him through my peripheral vision. He was coming down the hill fast. As he turned right, onto our street he took the turn wide to avoid wiping out. That's when he saw me. I was moving forward, and so was he. Too fast to do anything to avoid what was about to happen.
The next few seconds were not seconds. They were a lifetime. They were hours. They were forever. There was a split second when our eyes met. In that split second you could have written a book for what was going through my mind. Fear, pain, anguish, anxiety, hopelessness. You name it. I knew what was going to happen and I couldn't do a thing to stop it. He knew too, I could see it in his eyes. He had the same things in his eyes that I had in mine. As fast as those emotions were going through my mind was as slow as time went by the next second or two. It seemed to creep by. I heard the crash first, as his bike hit the front of my van. The next thing I knew his head was hitting my windshield right at my line of sight. That sound and what I saw will never leave me. Never. I threw the car into park and jumped out, not knowing what I was going to find. He was on the ground, right at the bumper. After hitting the windshield he fell back to the ground on top of his bike. One of the spokes of the wheel had pierced him through the nose. He was connected to the bike, and I didn't know what to do.
I held onto the tire to try to relieve the pressure on his nose, he was unconscious and making those sounds you hate to hear. The ones that say someone has a brain injury. With my left hand I held the tire of the bike and with my right hand I banged on the car to get the attention of my children in the car. I am not sure how much they remember, but they weren't even sure of what had happened until they got out of the car.
Megan was the first to come around the front of the car.
"Megan, go to Nelson's and call 911!!" I yelled it, and I didn't look up to see if she had heard my instructions. I trusted the sight of what was happening was enough. As they ran to the neighbors house I held the tire with both hands trying to relieve the pressure on Ray's nose. Just then the tire blew in my hand. I don't know why this sticks in my mind the way it does, but it does. Just then Carole Nelson came out of her home to see what was going on, to see me and Ray on the ground together. The look on her face reflected my own. Fear...pure fear....
The events that happened from there were where the miracle began to happen. Before I knew what was happening there were two angels there with Ray and I. They didn't speak instructions or guide me what to do, they did what they knew had to happen next. It was Merrill Wells, who happened to be driving by, and Leon Nelson. They had their hands on Ray's head and were immediately praying. Blessing him to be ok, to heal, to bless his family. It happened so fast I didn't even realize it until it was already happening. There we were. The four of us. The world was so quiet I don't remember hearing any sounds at all. Not even the voices of the men with me. It was as if in that moment in time time was standing still and we were all that mattered. When they had finished the prayer all chaos broke loose. Julie Green, Ray's mom arrived after my children retrieved her, more people were there, and within a few seconds the paramedics arrived. When they came I decided to step back. Until then you couldn't have pried me away from Ray with a crow bar. When I knew they were there, I stood up, wrapped Julie in my arms and began to weep. I mean weep. Until that moment there were no emotions. Just what needed to be done. Ray needed a strong person to get him help. He needed me to stay calm and use those precious first moments to do what was right. Once the professionals were there, I was no longer needed and I stood off. I cried into Julie's shoulder saying over and over again how sorry I was. So so sorry. I didn't see him, I didn't know he was coming. I couldn't stop it. I just couldn't stop any of it from happening. She was strong as always and told me it was time to take care of my children, and my unborn baby and she had Ray.
By this time there were dozens of people, friends, neighbors, police, and even the life flight helicopter was on approach. Jon had come home by then and had to park way down the road and seeing all the chaos and seeing our van in the middle of it he flew to my side. I sat in the drivers seat of the car and sobbed. The police officers were trying to get me to write down what had happened, but my hands were shaking so hard I could hardly manage it. I kept asking Jon how to spell things. The officers were there by my side trying to console me, and with Jon, and Polly on the other side I was surrounded as best I could be. But I still felt alone. Emotions were swirling, fear, hope that Ray was ok, anxiety. You name it. It's a good thing I have such wonderful neigbhors, because they stepped right up and took over with my children. I couldn't even think straight at that time. Soon television crews were there. Reporters. It was all out madness. Once they had Ray in the helicopter and his bike cleared out of the way they told us we could go home. Jon drove this time. All we had to do was circle back around. I cried on the way home, I cried at home. I cried as two dear friends gave me a blessing of comfort and peace and to bless that all the stress wouldn't hurt the baby. I cried through the evening. Friends came, friends stayed. I went to bed and waited for the only phone call I wanted to hear, and that was from Nathan or Julie telling us how Ray was. It was several hours later when it finally came. Ray was going to be ok. He had a broken leg and a concussion, but he was going to be ok. I cried for new and old reasons at that point. My OB told me to get some unisom and make sure to get some rest.
The next days and weeks were hard. By the next day Ray was home in a wheelchair and very tired and sore, but he was home. I called Julie, she called me. At one point Ray apparently had wanted to come over to show us (me) that he was ok. I got up my courage and walked over to their home. I went in and saw Ray in his wheelchair. Julie and I talked, and I avoided eye contact with Ray. Maybe it was guilt, maybe it was fear, maybe I just didn't know how I would take it since the last time I made eye contact with Ray my worst fears were brought to life. I stayed only a few minutes, rubbed him softly on the head, told him I loved him and walked out. I had to walk quickly because the tears came back and they came back full force. It was all I could do to say goodbye without falling into a heap of nothingness. But he was going to be fine.
Nights were the worst. I relived it over and over again. I would wake up sweating and cold and shaky, and go through it all again. The sounds, the smells, everything. Every time I drove down the street I could see his blood on the pavement and it would all come back. He said he didn't remember much and for that I was grateful. Two of us living it over and over again would have been two too many. One was enough.
Ray and I received a miracle that day. We were both being watched over. Angels, friends, family, neighbors, you name it. The Lord had provided for us both. For one reason or another we had to go through what we did. But we both made it. Today he and I have a special little connection. We knuckle up and smile at each other. A bond made in a tragic moment that yielded faith, hope and trust. He and I both will never be the same. I know I won't. I am more cautious then ever about driving and I never take anything for granted. Time has healed so much and I don't often think of it anymore. Time has been good to me that way. Julie and I will never forget the talks we have had afterwords, the tears we have shed together and the bond it has forged between our families. Forever. Forever a miracle, forever a sweet reminder that everything can and will be ok. Forever in my memory. Forever in my heart. A miracle, no matter how you look at it.