Today is the 15th anniversary of the day that I nearly died. I thought the easiest thing to do would be to share the letter that we sent out in our Christmas letter in December 1998. In some ways it’s hard to believe it’s been that long and in other ways it seems like a far off memory. I do know that our lives and marriage have never been the same and even if I could, I wouldn’t change what happened on that November day.
“The most profound thing to happen to us, and really the main reason for including this letter with our Christmas cards, is the severe car accident that we were involved in on November 24, two days before Thanksgiving. This was an incredible life-changing event that we have constantly pondered for the month since it happened, and feel the need to let everyone know about it and what we have learned from it.
At 4:15 in the afternoon, we were driving on Loop 820 north of Fort Worth when Mike realized that he needed to move the car over to stay on 820. As he attempted to move over the car hit some sand or gravel and started to spin. He had almost successfully pulled out of the spin when another car hit us, knocking us off the road and onto the shoulder. As soon as the car hit the shoulder we started to roll – flipping four times until we finally came to a stop upside down. We consider it to be only by God’s grace that we weren’t immediately killed.
Thankfully, our car (1998 Saturn SC2) wasn’t totally crushed so Mike was able to quickly get himself out of his seat belt and drop down onto the roof of the car in order to help Louanne. Louanne’s head had been severely gashed during the roll (nine inches long – from her left temple all the way to the back of her head) and she was semi-conscious and bleeding profusely. Mike feared as long as Louanne was hanging upside down there would be no way that he would be able to stop the bleeding. As best he could, he determined that Louanne was able to move all of her arms and legs and didn’t appear to be injured or hurting anywhere else, so he unbuckled her from her seat belt and lowered her down to him as carefully as he was able. Praying for her during all of this, and trying to calm her down and assure her that God was with them and that they would be all right, Mike turned Louanne onto her back, elevated her head, and then moved his hands around applying pressure to her wounds in order to attempt to stop the bleeding. Within a few minutes after stopping most of the bleeding, a passing off-duty Arlington firefighter crawled into the car and told Mike that he was doing the right thing and that help was on the way. Shortly after that, the paramedics arrived and started to work on us.
Louanne had to be Care Flighted to the hospital because of her blood loss and head injury, and Mike was taken by ambulance to the same hospital. As they were moving Louanne to the helicopter she was praying and told God, “It will be okay if I die because heaven will be wonderful, but I know that it will be so hard on Mike to lose me, so whatever you want, that would be best.” Just then the helicopter pilot leaned over and said, “Are you ready?” and Louanne thought, “Is God talking to me?” and her eyes flew open. It was a strange sensation that she will never forget.
After a lot of tests, Louanne was found to have suffered a minor concussion and two cuts to her head resulting in her losing about 40% of her blood. Several on the hospital staff told Louanne that if her husband had not gotten her down and stopped the bleeding then she would have probably died. One of the cuts was nine inches long needing about forty staples to close it, and the other about three inches needing six or eight. Mike had a bruised rib and/or lung. Other than that, no further significant injuries were sustained by either of us. Louanne spent three days (including Thanksgiving) in the hospital in order to receive a transfusion and build up enough strength to go home. Then, we had to spend about two weeks at home recovering before finally being able to return to light-duty work last week. As of today, it finally seems that things are starting to get back to normal for us.
We are writing this letter not for sympathy or attention, nor for some kind of gratuitous description of our accident, but because we have reflected so much on this event and have come to view it as a gift from God that has resulted in far more blessings and help than loss or pain. We feel it our duty and need to communicate the thankfulness and lessons that we’ve learned in the hope that we might help some of you to fully appreciate the gifts and blessing that you have been given as well.
God has blessed us so much through this. The paramedics and doctors were all amazed that we were not more seriously injured. No paralysis, no broken bones, no internal injuries or bleeding, not even a sprained ankle or wrist. We are so thankful that God spared not only our lives but also our health. Not even a full month has gone by and we are already almost back to normal. Louanne is thankful that the cut started at her hairline instead of on her face. When she combs her hair over the area that was shaved at the hospital, you cannot even tell that she was ever hurt. No one could ever tell by looking at her that only three weeks ago she almost died from a wound that runs the length of her entire skull. We have found that God cares about even these small things. It would have been okay and we would have still trusted God and dealt with it if either of us would have had to deal with disfigurement, but God spared us from that difficulty.
It may sound strange, but if we had the choice to go back and prevent the accident, we wouldn’t. We would let it happen all over again. Why? Because we have gained something that many couples never obtain no matter how long they are married; the realization of the great gift that we have been given in each other. We understand the incalculable value of having each other. No amount of pain would be too great to suffer, no amount of money lost would be too high a price to pay to be allowed to see the true wealth and value that we had possessed all along without truly understanding it. Before this happened we would have said that we could never love each other more than we already did. We would have said that we couldn’t be more thankful to God for giving us each other. But now, all that we had before pales by comparison. We would let that wreck happen a hundred times over in payment for that thankfulness for each other and the love that we have gained. Every time Mike thinks of the fact that Louanne almost died in his hands, he remembers how great a gift that he would have lost and is all the more thankful for her. It was certainly providential that we spent Thanksgiving in the hospital because that encouraged us all the more to consider the gifts that we’ve been given. God truly knows best.
We would like to thank all of you who helped us through this most difficult time. We will never be able to adequately express the deep gratitude that we feel for all that you have done. Thank you again.”