Friday, September 28, 2007

Emergency Recall

This afternoon, as I was roaring southbound in my 140,000 pound semi, I passed a working ambulance heading north. Now, in the course of my travels, I pass many emergency vehicles, but for some reason, this particular one seemed different. Somehow, as the red flashing lights filled my eyes, it also filled my soul. Unexpectedly, I tasted the bitter and raw sadness of a loved one fading. I recalled some of my own hospital encounters.

The first that came to mind was with my young daughter - the one in the photo at the top of Crowsnest Mountain (See my blog entry for Sept 22th, 2007). She had contracted a depressed skull fracture in a sledding accident, and had had a seizure right in her mother's arms at the scene. As young parents, we were scared! I think it was still February, and snow and ice smothered and challenged our prairie landscape. A flurry of activity soon whisked us to the Alberta Children's Hospital, in Calgary, where some skilled doctors and fancy surgery began our child's recovery. After a couple of days, when we arrived home to our other children, I naively wrote in my journal. I concluded that perhaps this trauma would be all we got for a while. I suppose I leaned to the distorted notion that life is a math equation consisting of good and bad experiences separated by an = sign. When some trauma is added to the bad side, an equal amount of smooth sailing must, by necessity, be added to the good side of the equation, thereby maintaining balance. As the years have passed, I have amended that narrow view.

My son, also in the photo at the top of Crowsnest Mountain, was born with kidney trouble. When he finally required medical intervention, the event made my daughter's head trauma seem like it belonged on the "good" side of my deluded math equation!

Diana and I spend months at Ronald McDonald House, both supporting and being supported by other parents of distressed children. I witnessed sadness like I have never imagined! Such innocent babies, toddlers, children and teenagers - all with one thing in common - suffering! Tears were abundant at Ronald McDonald House, and fell without apology from the eyes of both tender-hearted mothers and life-toughened fathers. I saw some kids recover and other kids die. My heart still aches at the memory! I wondered why my son was spared while other families had to suffer such unbearable loss.

The realities of driving my 82 foot semi returned, obscuring my poignant memories. I glanced in my driver's side mirror and noted the ambulance's light fading with distance. I negotiated a left hand turn in heavy traffic, and began mechanically shifting up through my myriad of gears. The roar of my 475 horsepower engine drowned out all other sounds, but my memories returned to the surface.

At first glance, life is not always fair. Perhaps not even at second glance, yet in some ways, life is extremely fair. The fairness does not, however, lie with external forces, but within the quiet chambers of the human soul. Each human soul is endowed with two great capacities: the ability to endure intense suffering - without complaint, as well as the ability to assist others who are also struggling in the war-torn trenches of adversity. I reflected again on the ambulance. Moving rapidly in the opposite direction, there was only one thing I could do. I offered a short prayer to my God. A prayer asking for the stricken victim and his or her loved ones to be comforted during this traumatic event. After all, when all is said and done, it seems like life's biggest tragedy has its roots in our own rebellion against undeserved trauma. Accepting our lot in life and moving into the sunshine of life in spite of our troubles seems to be our greatest triumph. It is a triumph that I, personally, don't have often enough! If we can change something to make ourselves better, then I think we should do all that we can, but if no power of change rests in our hands, then it is probably better to accept life on its terms and move on as best we can.

5 comments:

Dancin Queen said...

That was a beautiful post. You have a way with words. It definitely is beyond my understanding why thinks happen that shape us to be who HE wants and needs us to be.

Davis Bigelow said...

Thanks, that was a kind thing to say. His ways are certainly beyond me too.

Ajoy said...

My eyes are filled with tears. Thanks for sharing your deepest thoughts. How in the world do you live with such passion from day to day Mr. Bigelow? You amaze me!

From reading your blogs- I'm anticipating the day my nose is in your published book. :)

Tristi Pinkston said...

I always get a knot in my stomach whenever I hear an ambulance's siren, wondering who is hurt, grateful it's not me, hoping they'll be all right. These crises that come into our lives certainly do teach us, sometimes very painfully, always memorably, but in the end, if we've learned what we were supposed to, we come out stronger and with a closer relationship with God.

Anne Bradshaw said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Davis, and for the great advice.

Your ambulance story is a good lesson in life for us all. I have a built-in antenna for sirens and pick up the sound when it's far, far distant. It always makes me shiver and do a mental check of where each member of my family should be at that moment.

We have two choices when troubles hit--we can either get on our knees and squeeze closer to God, or we can get angry and distant from Him. I go for the first choice every time, because I've found that is the one that brings relief, peace, and help--often in the most unexpected ways.