One of the benefits of my job is that our non-profit Head Start program follows the local public school calendar. When kids are on Spring break, so am I. Another benefit of my job is the incredibly generous paid time off that builds quickly. Although I had been away from work most of November and December to care for my mom in her last weeks of life and to be with my family, I still managed to earn enough time off to make my Spring vacation fully paid. That is my favorite way to enjoy time off!
I was fortunate to score a sweet little place at the Oregon Coast for a mid-week solo getaway. The coastal eating establishments sorely lack special diet foods on their menus and the grocery store options are minimal, so I knew I would need to prepare some snacks and meals to take along. Normally, making food for adventures is one of my favorite activities. I love coming up with exciting and delicious road trip foods that are easy for travel. I just haven’t had any motivation to be in my kitchen. Instead of happily thinking up all kinds of yummy food ideas, I was dreading having to prepare anything and my thoughts were leaning more toward making this “chore” as easy as possible.
Then the miracle happened. Yes, a miracle. I wonder how many people believe in miracles. When inexpiable things happen are they simply random coincidences? I suppose it depends upon your personal spiritual beliefs. For me, I experienced what I would call divine intervention; a miracle. Just before I was to leave on my Spring break adventure my dad was in a roll over accident on his way home from Canada. He hit a patch of black ice, lost control and spun across the opposite lane of traffic. His truck hit an embankment and flipped twice landing upright in some brush.
My sister contacted me to tell me this news and I went into an instant panic. I had so many questions! She didn’t have a lot of information and all I knew was both my sisters were driving toward his location somewhere north of Seattle. Much of the day went by without any information on how he was or where exactly he was and what was happening. My dad wasn’t answering his phone, nor were my siblings. Clear communication is really not my family’s forte, which added to my distress. When my dad finally called me I was so relieved to hear his voice! He said he was okay. He briefly told me the story and said he did not go to a hospital. I urged him to get checked out just to be sure. He insisted he was fine. He did not hit his head and he had no injuries. I had to see him in person before I would completely accept that he really was fine.
His truck is destroyed and he walked away with a small bruise on his elbow and his wrist. He’s got some very sore arms. I’m sure he must have had a “death grip” on his steering wheel. Random? Pure luck?? I don’t think so. Upon hearing the full story I feel strongly that this was indeed a miracle. There are so many things that could have made the outcome much more dismal. There is simply no earthly explanation why my almost 85 year old dad survived this accident unharmed.
To say that I was joyous is an understatement. After too many hours of intense worry and concern, I felt such relief that my dad really was fine; a bit traumatized but perfectly okay.
I had been talking with my sister about this divine intervention we both thought our mom had something to do with. I told her that mom would not let dad die so soon after her and it was my sisters birthday. Mom would definitely not let him die on her birthday.
It wasn’t until my sister told me that when they were cleaning stuff out of his truck they found my mom’s compact mirror in the glove box. In that moment I felt a wave of peaceful calm wash over me. I got goosebumps. I knew without a doubt that my mom played a hand in his survival. This has challenged (in a good way) my beliefs about death, afterlife and what some people would call “angels”. It solidifies what I felt was true. People who die really do look after those left behind. I can’t really explain it more than that.
Honestly, I am okay with no further explanation. Faith is a belief not based on proof. I do not consider myself a religious person, but I do have a deep faith in my own kind of spirituality. I am holding on to this feeling that has lifted me and eased just a little bit of the ache I have felt since my mom’s death. I feel like she is close by and she knows what is going on. She is watching over us and protecting us in an “other worldly” sense.
This joyful feeling motivated me to get in the kitchen and pull together some food for my beach trip that for a while, I did not think I would get to take. Here’s a sampling of the things I made for my trip:
There was quite a storm while I was there and it made me want to stay indoors by the fire instead of wander the beach and wave watch. I did manage to witness some massive ocean waves we don’t normally see on the Oregon Coast. I enjoyed my time alone. I ate well. I had a lovely visit with my sister in law, who lives at the coast. I took time to reflect on many things. I held on to the peaceful feeling I miraculously found through something that was absolutely frightening. I think it is rather mind boggling that my dad’s accident is what moved me in a more healing direction around the loss of my mom. It feels better than holding on to her last days, unable to free myself from the pain of her leaving us. I had never witnessed someone taking their last breath until I held my mom’s hand as she took hers. I wish I could say that I will never experience this again. It is as much a blessing as it is devastating. It has been hard for me to let that memory fade.
It will get easier. I now find myself thinking less of her last days and more that she is closer than I realize. She is right here with me. I just can’t see her. It is a strange paradox. I am not used to this yet. The pain of missing her is still strong, as I am sure it will be always. I continue to cry almost daily, though the tears flow a little less.
I know this sounds bizarre and I really do not mean it in any sort of negative way, but I must say I am grateful for my dad’s accident in that it has given me the beginning of acceptance with my mom’s death. I ‘talk’ to my mom now. I know she can hear me. Undeniably, I feel her presence more strongly. I will continue to have patience with myself on my grief path and know that my feelings will change often as I heal. Grief has a rhythm all it’s own. It can be crazy making. I read recently that grief is a part of love and love evolves. It continually shifts and changes. One day I will be able to set my grief free. I think then I will feel love for my mom in ways I never imagined. I look forward to that day.