They say that when there is danger a mother hen will work feverishly to gather her chicks close, to protect and care for them until the danger subsides. I think that's the way I felt that Friday evening as they loaded me into the back of the ambulance. I was frustrated because my children were not near me. I couldn't get complete answers to how they were doing. Every question I asked was met by four of their own about how I was doing and what I needed.
As the siren began it's mournful sounds and began to race toward the hospital, I couldn't help but wonder where Abby and Harrison were and who was with them (Josh had been placed in the ambulance with me). I had this horribly unsettled feeling that my kids were sitting on the side of the road amidst strangers. They needed me. I needed to be with them. I honestly got angry.
After we arrived at the ER, my pediatrician and our friend filled me in on some of what was going on. But there were spaces--long chunks of time where I would neither know where they were or what was going on with them. Those spaces were uncomfortable. I was told later that I was very agitated acting that night as they began to work with my family. They believed it to be the medicine. I think it was something far different. It was those spaces. That mothering nature--the one that had served Sarah so well as she parented our kids--was already kicking in with me.
As I lay on that board, neck brace attached and arms and legs strapped to the bed, I was furious that my kids needed me and I couldn't move. There were too many spaces where information was missing, my kids weren't near me and my thinking was fuzzy. All of that was too unsettling.
The greatest space of all came on Saturday morning when I awoke. They had medicated me to help me sleep through the night. I awoke to find most of my family (sister, mom and two brothers-in-law) at the foot of my bed. But I awoke with this horrible feeling that I had endured the worst nightmare ever. Only, it wasn't a nightmare. It was real. And there hung over me the shadow of yet more spaces. Was Sarah really dead? Where were my kids? Who was taking care of them? I needed something, someone to fill in all these spaces.
When I share our story at conferences and events, I am asked, "How are you and your kids doing?" I can honestly say we are doing well...for the most part. But when I search deeper, thinking back on those first hours, I have to admit that I am still haunted by spaces. Things I want to know. Answers that may never come. Questions of what could have been done differently or handled better. Those are moments where I have to lean heavily on a God who fills these spaces. I am reminded that He was there through it all and that even when I couldn't be, He was there looking out for my kids.
I am also reminded that, as they get older, there will be even more spaces. Growing up and independence require it. Even then, I have to lean heavily on God. He knows the answers. He cared for them then; He cares for them now. It reminds me that every day they live, I'm better off entrusting them to Him to watch over them and love them through the spaces.