Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Meet my new neighbor, Sandra.  She walked out of her house to meet me, walking fairly scarecrow-like with a big smile on her small frame when I went over to meet when she and her family moved in two months ago.  I was chatting with her husband when she came out.  I think she could tell that I was surprised with how she was walking, so she asked me, in her open style: Did he tell you what happened to me?

He had not.

This past May, Sandra was driving her four kids, all under 10 years old, somewhere completely--who knows where, who cares where now.  She stopped at a stop sign.  After stopping, she stepped on the gas pedal of her minivan to move through the four-way stop.  She glanced in the rear view mirror at her kids, sang along to the kid music, and probably said something to one of her kids.

Then WHAM a large vehicle going almost 40 miles per hour hit her car.  With her four young kids inside.  Right into Sandra's door.

Sandra doesn't recall a whole lot from the accident.  She does know that her youngest, a girl almost 2 years old, remained strapped into her carseat snugly, even though the car ended up on its roof.  Her little girl was now suspended in air--oddly quiet, untouched, completely fine.  Her three boys' injuries varied in their degree of hurt.  Two had just scratches, one had minor injuries.

Sandra was not so lucky.  She was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and stayed there for three weeks.  Neighbors and friends immediately set up a network to take care of her kids--this one took that one for the night and to school the next day, this other neighbor picked up these two for a few days, another friend brought Sandra's husband meals in the hospital...  This net was elaborate, it was loving, it was strong.

While this happened outside her room, Sandra started recovering from, most seriously, a broken back and a punctured lung.  She needed several surgeries and several metal pins in the base of her spine in order to walk, and those steps were possible with only the strongest pain medication.  

Everything hurt.

And everything still hurts.  She is still relearning to breathe deeply, control her body, and simply live with constant, significant pain.  Yet she's bright and cheerful and strong.  Clearly, she's chosen to move the heck on and deal with it.

There's more to the story, of course, as there always is.  But this tiny slice of Sandra's life--the millisecond when that minivan hit her car--leaves me so very grateful. I am reminded of how precious life is.  How healthy I am.  How capable my body is.  How resilient kids are.  How we choose to be happy.  And a whole lot more.

Thank you, Sandra.


  1. Life is precious and can change in a moment, sometimes it's good but it can also be heart breaking. How great that friends and family came to the rescue to help out.

  2. Definitely makes me thankful for what I have. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Wow. Best dishes to Sandra and her recovery. Thank you for sharing her story and reminding us to care for each other.