She Was Only 17

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It was an overcast and cool Spring morning. I desperately wanted to put the top down and feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my face.  But the clouds were ever-present; a storm was imminent.  Yet nothing was going to dampen my soaring spirit.  It is Holy week and my anticipation of Good Friday and Easter Sunday was singing in my heart to the beat of my worship music. I passed several picturesque country churches on the way to my destination and I was again reminded of the death, burial and resurrection of my Savior.

Because He lives, I can freely live. I was smiling with love for Him, my life, my family, and my immeasurable blessings.

I was lost in those happy thoughts. This was a week of manicures, pedicures, shopping, last minute dress alterations and laughing.  Prom night is just a few heartbeats away now.  My sweet daughter is a senior and enjoying everything about the last year of high school as any teenager should.  There has been great joy in making memories and plans for the future.

I was so lost in my obvious delightful thoughts that I forgot where I was going. As I passed the last pretty church prior to turning into my destination, my heart slammed back into my chest with a fear and dread that I thought I had prepared myself for.  In the parking lot were the entire small town fire and police departments and rescue units waiting on high alert for the call from a St Clair County High School student with the report that three fellow students had been injured in a devastating car crash.

One of them was my daughter.

Every year, across the nation, high school students participate in a pledge called Prom Promise, a campaign begun long ago to encourage students to abstain from drinking and driving on prom night.

Prior to signing this pledge, they witness a mock motor vehicle crash in which their fellow classmates are devastatingly injured; at least one is fatally wounded. The narration takes bystanders through introductions of each student and the particulars of the actual crash.  Our senses are overloaded as we hear a detailed account of what happens second by second to the vehicle and the human body upon impact with any inanimate object at a high rate of speed.

The resulting rescue again assaulted my senses as I stood by helplessly watching my daughter being cut from the passenger side of the car, bloody and lifeless. As I watched frozen in fear, tears streaming down my cheeks, her injuries were being narrated over the loudspeaker and it was painfully obvious that the single moment she made a decision to enter that car with a drunk driver was now clearly defining the rest of her life; if she lived.

I could hardly breathe.

Prom Promise 16

Although I knew what I was watching wasn’t real, my heart could barely stand it. Nothing prepared me for her scene and the moment that she was strapped on the gurney, covered in blood, and taken away in an ambulance.  She was initially supposed to be flown off the scene in the Lifesaver, but due to the inclement weather she was taken away in an ambulance.  I think had the Lifesaver been dispatched as planned, a distraught and screaming mother running onto the scene would have added to the realistic effect of the drama significantly.  I was literally about to explode with helplessness and stone cold fear.

This isn’t real, this isn’t real, I chanted softly to myself through my silent sobs.

As I continued to watch, the final scenes played out and the cleanup was overwhelmingly real. The drama ended with the sound of the deceased student speaking softly, pleading for her life, her future, and clinging to sweet memories from inside a real body bag.  She had been zipped inside the darkness, covered in blood and loaded by the coroner into a sleek, silver hearse.

Surely this must be a dream.

She was only seventeen.

After witnessing this event first hand, I can honestly say there is no preparation for a parent’s heart to see your own child in this type of scenario; injured, bleeding, lifeless.

Sadly it happens all too frequently, the end result all too real.

Makes one wonder how the Father felt when he witnessed the crucifixion and resulting violent death of His only Son. He saw and heard everything and His heart must have been torn into.  The drama is certainly different, the time period spanning thousands of years, the characters and scenes not even close to being similar.

Yet the pain was real and it must have been overwhelming; all because the love behind it was pure, sacrificial and simply amazing.

How extraordinary is the Father’s love for us!

I couldn’t help but feel so intimately connected to the Lord after this dramatic experience.

I am so incredibly thankful for the beauty of the sacrificial love of a God who longs to have that intimate connection with us at such a high price to His own heart. There is no greater love.

As Easter Sunday approaches, I hope your heart is intimately connected to the heart of our Father who longs to be close to you; a Father who sacrificed His everything. I can think of no greater verse:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

 As for my daughter, her ambulance ride took her back to the fire department where her car was parked. She quickly hurried back to school just in time for an AP Stats exam covered in “blood”.

As for me, I hurried back home to capture the full measure of my feelings surrounding the morning hoping I could put into words what my heart was trying to convey.

As for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, He suffered significantly and died violently on a wooden cross on a hilltop on a day long ago. But His feelings for us are as strong today as they were then.

If He sacrificed so much and died for us, shouldn’t we be so kind as to live for HIM?

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