Crazy-excited and in a hurry! That’s an accurate description of my state of mind Wednesday morning, April 10th. I had the honor of being featured in BR Parent’s magazine. That was the morning of my 10:00 a.m. video interview. I left early because I needed new earrings since only one had surfaced after dress-up the night before. In addition, I needed time to repaint my toes and pop my impress nails on in the car. Priorities.
As I sat through this interview, one of the scariest days of our family’s life was unfolding, unbeknownst to me. I literally had no idea.
The people at BR Parents are so wonderful. I was really enjoying my time talking with them. Somewhere in the middle of the interview, I vividly remember ranting on about my siblings. I was talking about our relationship growing up and how much time we spent together as kids. Road trips were the best.
We didn’t have digital gadgets or in-car DVD players. We only had tape decks that took far too long to rewind to the right part of the song. We would often sing in the car and tease Josh about his harmony not being spot on. My words were, “…now they’re my world…my best friends!”
Little did I know, as those words were rolling off my lips, my baby brother was trapped in his car, unconscious, with a fractured C2 - what we now know is known as the 'Hang man' fracture. That’s even painful to type.
Josh, among other things, is the board President of Baton Rouge Area Leadership. That morning they had a really productive board meeting. He had another meeting at 10 a.m. downtown. On his way to the car, he texted the person he was meeting to say he was running a few minutes behind but was on the way. He got in his car, through his phone on the passenger seat and proceeded to the meeting. He said he remembers telling himself there was no need to rush since he already let them know he was running late.
Another driver, leaving their appointment, didn’t share the same ‘don’t rush’ mentality. At 10:02 a.m., at the intersection of North 6th and Florida Boulevard, the other driver, ran through the light crashing into my brother’s passenger side at a high speed. In three blocks of traveling, the other driver picked up enough speed to cause both of their cars to spin multiple times, crash together again before slamming into a building. There were no skid marks indicating the driver didn’t slow down.
Both drivers were unconscious on the scene. The first officer to arrive originally thought it was a fatality. The heroic first responders used the jaws of life to cut my brother out of his car.
Josh keeps his driver’s license on the back of his cell phone which was crushed under the metal. When they brought him to the hospital he was checked in with a code name since he didn't have any i.d. By the grace of God, Josh was able to give the police officer the phone numbers for my Mother and my sister. By that very same grace, my Mom didn’t answer the phone when the officer called. Annoyed by the recent influx of robocalls, she chose to not answer the unknown number. At 11:20 a.m., Erin got the call from the officer. He introduced himself and softly told her, “Your brother has been in an accident. He’s at the hospital. He’s stable and talking.”
At this point I’d left the interview. I went to UPS to return an Amazon package. I answered her call thinking she was calling to tell me Happy National Sibling Day. Not at all. I could tell something wasn’t ok. She told me what the police told her. We were both en route to hospital trying to figure out if we should call our parents then or after we saw him. Erin chose to call then.
You have so many ideas of how you would respond in a situation like that. None of my preconceived ideas came to fruition. The drive to the hospital was like being in an insulated timewarp that’s stuck in slo-mo.
Erin beat me to the hospital by a few minutes. We were greeted by a Chaplin asking us to follow her to talk in a private room. After about 10 minutes, that felt like an hour, we were able to see Josh.
He was terrified. At that point, he had no idea what had happened and he was asking for his sisters. His head was bloody and bandaged. He had a neck brace and lots of cuts and bruises. His arms and legs were moving and that was a major plus for us. We would later learn he had a fractured C2, bruised lung, broken rib, and a massive cut to his foot and head that both needed stitches.
The first time we got to see him in the TNCC, he was in the hospital bed laying flat and still. He reached for our hands. My sister and I along with my parents stood next to him and my Dad just did what he always does so well...he prayed. If this picture were a video, you'd hear the first words out of my Dad's mouth which were, "Thank You, Jesus!"
The next day, my sister and her husband went to see the car and get his belongings. My sister, who is not a cryer, struggled to speak. Through the tears she gasped, “the engine is in the front seat.” We were all in tears. I still haven't seen the pictures.
It was then that my sister and I started doing FB LIVE updates to keep people updated with his recovery. TNCC has strict rules and visiting times. There were several times we’d go to visit him and be stopped by security as nurses rushed for another ‘Code Blue’. The TNCC is for severe patients. In fact, injuries to the spinal cord at the C1 & C2 levels are considered to be the most severe of all spinal cord injuries as they can lead to full paralysis but are most often fatal. (source: www.spinalcord.com)
Josh stayed in the TNCC (Trauma-Neuro Critical Care) for 2.5 days. He was walking on the second day. <insert praise break> A miracle. It was Jesus. He saved my brother's life.
He would spend the next two weeks in therapy at the hospital. There are literally no words for the amount of overwhelming support, prayers and love we have received in the last three weeks. The way everyone has rallied around my brother and our family has left us simply in awe. We are so unbelievably grateful. Thank you is simply not enough.
My brother is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. When he was able to really speak to us, he had two questions: ‘How is the other driver?’ and ‘When can I see Kady?’ (my oldest daughter - his bestie.) In that order.
He was concerned and asking about the other driver for days. His neck was broken. Every breath was painful due to a broken rib and his thoughts were on the person who hit him. His ability to selflessly love other people blows my mind. Of his 31 years, I don’t know one person he’s ever disliked or has disliked him. True story.
The week before Josh’s accident a dear friend of mine sent a song to me. She said it came up on her suggested list on Youtube and as it played she felt she needed to send it to me. I listened and loved the song. It was beautiful. The lyrics…powerful. The title of the song was, unbeknownst to me, prophetic. ‘Another in the Fire’
In one of our posts about the accident, someone made a comment saying, “Wow! There was a 4th man in the car with him.” It all connected. I knew why she felt she needed to send it to me. Even before the accident, God was preparing my heart to know He was there in the car as it was spinning, as it crashed in the building, as Josh was being cut out, and every other step along the way.
I know and believe that now more than ever.
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