Today I’m celebrating my seventh anniversary instead of planning a funeral. Chris survived an accident four days ago that should’ve killed him. I can still barely wrap my mind around it.
He wasn’t even planning to ride on Saturday. According to the cycle training plan that he’s following, it was supposed to be a rest day for him.
But I’m new to group riding and so I asked if he wanted to ride with me on the Lifetime Cycle Club ride. They were riding in Monument so he decided he’d ride the 16 miles to the start and then do the ride with me.
He always rides with the Road ID app. It has a feature called eCrumb tracking, which texts a GPS tracker link to my phone each time he rides. It also includes a text alert after five minutes of no movement. On the drive up, I had checked the tracker to see where he was and saw that Chris was a couple miles away from the meeting spot.
I arrived at 7:50 AM. After setting up my bike and talking briefly with the ride leader, I checked my phone again and saw that Chris hadn’t moved. And a minute later, the stationary alert went off.
It’s been triggered before, usually when he ends his ride but forgets to turn it off. Or occasionally when he gets off his bike for any reason or stops for a bathroom break. So I didn’t give it much thought more than, “Weird … I wonder why he stopped when he’s so close.” I sent him a quick text to ask if he was okay.
A couple minutes later, another cyclist rolled up to the group and said “I just saw a guy who was hit on 105!”
And I knew. All of my wife-instinct told me it was Chris.
Here are how things happened…
- Chris was going downhill at 30 mph.
- An SUV, driving into the sun, turned left directly in front of him.
- From what I understand from the police, he hit the right passenger fender around the headlight, then hit the windshield.
- He landed about 25 feet away, unconscious. The passenger side view mirror was also no longer attached to the car.
- As I pulled up, the paramedics were pulling away and told me to go to the hospital.
At the hospital I learned that Chris had actually woken up briefly at the scene and tried to comfort the driver. AND he told the paramedics to tell me I should go ahead and go on the ride.
As if he’d just get checked out and then ride home from the E.R.
You guys, he practically did.
He was discharged less than six hours after he was admitted.
No broken bones. No head injury.
Just a black eye, a few scrapes, some deep bruises, a gnarly laceration on his leg.
And a massive dose of perspective.
When a crisis like this happens, things get very clear. All the stuff you thought was important suddenly is unimportant and your world gets very, very small.
Here are a few things I feel:
Grateful I still have a husband and our kids still have a daddy.
Loved by an amazing community who immediately surrounded us with prayer and offers to help. (Even cheesecake delivery!)
Undeserving that we get to be those people who live through an experience like this.
Awestruck that we are dealing with physical therapy and not funeral arrangements.
Hopeful that this experience will lead to true, lasting change in our relationships with God, with each other, and with other people.
Throughout the whole day, as things unfolded, my reoccurring thought was that he shouldn’t be alive. Or at the very least, he shouldn’t be walking.
The State Trooper said over and over again Chris is very, very lucky. He told us about another man who had just been discharged. This man had an almost identical accident two weeks before. Only the outcome was very different. He was leaving the hospital after two weeks. He has a broken neck and back and extensive head injuries.
I don’t know why God spared Chris.
I’m not a charismatic person, but I have a vision of angels holding him as he was flying through the air. Guiding him around the trees, cushioning his landing, rotating him so he didn’t land on his head or neck.
He could’ve died on impact. He could’ve been paralyzed. He could’ve had a head injury.
But instead he has a black eye, 35 staples and a pair of crutches.
The road of What Could’ve Happened is a long and scary one. And there’s not much point in going down it.
But I can’t stop thinking about all the little things about this accident that affected the outcome.
- Chris could have been going faster. He likes to descend. If he had been going faster, he would’ve been slightly ahead and been hit head on.
- It happened so fast he didn’t have any time to react. If he had, he would’ve tensed up. Instead he was loose and floppy, like a rag doll.
- The accident happened in between two fire stations. It was a shift change and a firefighter was driving from one station to the other and was driving past. She stopped so she was on the scene almost instantaneously.
- His helmet shows where his head hit the windshield. Had he not been wearing it, he would’ve shattered his cheekbone. Or worse.
- The driver’s insurance is with the same company ours is. This makes the insurance process much simpler.
I’m sure there are more bullet points that would be added to this list that I’ll not ever know. What I do know is that God wanted him alive.
“Is dad gonna die in a few days?”
My son whispered the question tentatively, sitting on the bed staring at the staples, trying to process the day in his four-year-old brain.
“No, baby.” I whispered back. “We still get to have him for a while. Let’s tell God thank you again.”