Sunday, March 31, 2013

it's just metal.

Friday night was supposed to be the beginning of a mini-vacation/getaway in Hot Springs for us. We haven't been to Oaklawn this season and planned on watching the races that weekend. Considering the events of last week, I felt like it would be good to get away for a night and have some fun.

We never made it to Hot Springs.

We rushed and rushed after work on Friday to try and get down there at a good time... Until realizing that we'd miss dinner and still get there later. We drove and ate dinner out and took our time after that. It was raining and just nasty weather that night, and our biggest concern was if the races would still go on the next day.

There were at least 2-3 times during the week and even that day that we considered not going at all. We batted the idea around until deciding that it'd still be fun, and we'd enjoy the time together. There are just some times you need to listen to your gut :)

En route to Hot Springs that night, we were edging up toward Mt. Ida. It was still raining, and the road was just soaked. We came up over a hill, and at that point I knew we weren't going to make the next curve in the road. It was a very sharp curve, and with the rain on the road, our car began to spin out of control....

What felt like about 10 minutes was really only a matter of seconds, but I had hundreds of thoughts racing through my head. If you've ridden with me when I've seen/hit an animal before, you know the piercing scream I let out almost instantly. There was no screaming this night. Pure silence from me... I only listened to Ryan saying, "Hold on, baby... Hold on, baby" over and over.

I thought about if we were going to die then... Or get really hurt, how we probably shouldn't have come that night, how maybe Ryan will just whip this car around and get us straight back on the road like a Tokyo drift move... I was scared that what was coming was going to be worse that the fear I felt then... But the funny thing was that I never thought about how this was ruining my car I thought I loved so much. I just remember being so concerned with our safety and how we both needed to be okay for this to not be a big deal...

And turns out -- we were. No scratch, bruise, stiff neck or anything. My car ended up off the road and in a muddy ditch... With 2 popped tires, a ripped off front bumper, and who knows what else as damage.

But it's just metal.

It could have been so much worse, and we are thankful for our safety an God's protection. I think there's extra gratitude and understanding in my heart this week, too... After being so intertwined with death and grief but also our second look and examination at how well Aunt Elaine was able to see what's important.

I could have been angry and upset at my torn up car. It was my first new car... Paid off and perfectly fine. I was going to put my first baby in the backseat of that car, and I had a lot of memories in it.

But that's not what's important. My husband was in that car... And he's okay. I'm okay. We are safe and uninjured, and our only headache will be dealing with instance and rental cars and decisions about what to do next.

I'm so grateful to have learned that my car is only metal... Banged up metal for now... But there are so many other important things. I'm focusing on them for now.

im thankful.
carrie anne

this is our wrecker, Sancho, who kept us company in his shop for a few hours Friday night

Monday, March 25, 2013

what a wonderful world.

where to begin...

To say that my weekend turned out differently than I had planned might be the biggest understatement ever. My mom and I have planned a vacation on Spring Break for the past few years now. They've been extremely memorable -- driving to Charleston, South Carolina one year and then Houston, Texas another. We planned to do another one of those trips again this year - we originally planned for Kansas City, but we changed to a shorter, closer trip instead. We left for Rogers, Arkansas Friday morning. It was misty and freezing cold, but we made the best of it. We shopped and ate and watched movies and finally had a chance to relax. 

Friday night, we watched a movie called The Impossible. We cried and cried in our hotel room and grieved for this family experiencing such loss and trauma in the midst of a major disaster. We made comments during the movie that sting now. I remember saying, "Oh wow, they're so worried about setting the house alarm, and they have NO idea what's about to happen to them." I also remember thinking, "Wow, I hope that our family never has to experience something like that just to say the things we need to say or do what we should be doing." 

Then Saturday came. 
Even as I type this, it doesn't feel real at all. Over lunch, Mom and I were talking about babies and me being a mom one day and all the little motherhood things that daughters ask their mommas. Leaving the restaurant, I got in the car and Mom told me that my Aunt was being taken to the hospital via ambulance. She had been sick the day before, and we didn't think it was anything too serious. We kept in touch throughout the afternoon, and we got news that she was getting better after getting fluids. Mom and I kept on with our afternoon, and our biggest concern at the moment was getting to a matinee movie on time. 

During the movie, Mom got a call and came back saying that Aunt Elaine needed surgery, and as soon as her blood pressure was up high enough, they'd take her back. Then another call came. Mom came rushing back in the theater, said, "Elaine's coded." I grabbed my stuff and said, "Let's go now." 

Most of that trip home from Springdale comes in pieces... like going under water and coming back up again. I could confidently say that I flew us down 540 where 100mph felt like 7mph. I wanted so desperately for my mom to see her sister again. I remember feeling like I was hearing things I wasn't worthy enough to hear in that car ride... I listened as my mom prayed and begged God for her sister's life, and I was there as she got the news that she had passed away. The rest of our trip down felt like we were driving to another country, and I was helpless as to what to do other than just comfort my mom and get us there quickly and safely. 

There's something about being with family that makes you feel so much better. We knew what was waiting for us when we got to the hospital, but we also knew that our family was there. And there was no stopping that magnetic pull toward them. Once we got to the room, sadness and grief overwhelmed us completely. I hurt the most seeing my family hurting - my relatives who lost a wife, daughter, sister, mother, mimi, aunt, cousin... all of us lost someone so special and unique to each of us. More than craving family, I crave Jesus so much in those moments. In the midst of my grief, all I wanted was to talk to Him and have Him help with my all this pain. I wanted and needed Him. Just Him... and peace comes when I realize that my Aunt Elaine is with Him.

My Aunt Elaine is hard to describe, to be honest. She was incredibly funny and had a great outlook on life. Her life was marked with a lot of pain and suffering, but one thing we've all pointed out is that she never complained. I never heard her say a negative thing about her life or how she wished it was different or better. She truly thought life was wonderful. Where would many would have negative comment, she just chose to see the brighter side of it all.

Memories of Aunt Elaine almost always include laughing. She had the best laugh... that always ended up with her getting choked and coughing and always, always crying. She kept us laughing since we were little kids. I remember the best days coming out of school in the afternoons were when Aunt Elaine was in the car with mom picking us up. Another thing is that Aunt Elaine ALWAYS had a Sonic cup with her... and she'd hold it with her little arm against her chest.

What I remember the absolute most about my Aunt Elaine is that she was my mom's very best friend. As annoying as it was when I was a little kid and wanted all my mom's attention, they'd talk on the phone ALL the time. You'd ask mom (knowing who it was already) who she was talking to, and the response was 99% of the time, "Laine." I hurt so much for my mom knowing just a fraction of how big this loss is to her.

Aunt Elaine also adored her grandkids. The day the twins were born was like heaven on Earth for her. I was young, but I remember it. I can vividly remember her showing almost everyone pictures in her wallet of the twins in those bright colored jumpers with balloons behind them. She was so, so proud to be Mimi. And then when Madison came along, you'd have thought she hung the moon. Those kids were her world almost entirely. 

Not too long ago, I posted a blog to my niece on her 3rd birthday (Read here). In it, I described one of the most special times I've ever shared with my Aunt Elaine - when she saw me in my wedding dress before the ceremony. Words can't do it justice. I earnestly believe the most talented writer in the world can't describe that moment... that just she and I shared in some old bathroom together. The moment stuck with me as I looked at my own niece and realized that Aunt Elaine used to look at me the same way when I was a baby. 

I was blessed with 26 wonderful and beautiful years with her. I'm so thankful that for the past few years, I've been able to genuinely share my love for my Aunt with her. There was no awkward, do I say I love you or not, with her. We openly said that we loved each other, and we said it often. I'm glad that "the impossible" didn't have to happen for me to tell my Aunt how much she meant to me. I'm glad she read my blog about our special moment and knew exactly how I felt and how meaningful that was to me. I'm thankful that I was a little more intentional in my interactions with her given the chance that I might not have another one. I'm also grateful that I got to tell her on Saturday in that room (and will continue to tell her as days go on) how she was the one who taught me about being an Aunt and that I'll never forget how beautifully beaming her face when she saw me on my wedding day and that I promise to try and be as good of an Aunt as she was.

My heart is incredibly broken. Today is not the same as yesterday, and our world has changed in a way we didn't know it could... and didn't know it would so soon. Our family would greatly appreciate prayers and warm thoughts during this time. I especially would appreciate prayers for my Uncle who lost his wife, his daughter and family who lost their Mimi, my Mammaw who just lost her first child, my Uncle who lost his little sister, and my mom who lost her big sister and best friend. It's a grief that feels unimaginable and unreal but so painful. Our family firmly believes that we will see Aunt Elaine in one heavenly and beautiful reunion one day. Our hearts grieve and break and yearn for heaven, our home, until that day comes. 

We miss you so much, Aunt Elaine. I'm still in complete shock that you're not here. I'll miss your laugh and your humor. I'll miss you saying such wonderful things about my husband and how much you love him. I'll miss your Sonic cup and feet not ever touching the floor when you sit down. I'll miss you being part of arguments on what color Papaw's eyes are and stories about how shy you used to be. I'll miss you in hospital rooms to lighten the mood when someone is sick, and I'll miss you pestering my mom and your Fridays with Mammaw. I'll miss you... all of you... and how you always thought that the world was truly wonderful.

I'm so blessed and honored to call you my Aunt, and I'm only writing this blog to honor you since you loved reading what I had to say and supported me always. Thank you for the years we shared, memories we made, and stories I'll never stop telling. You made my life wonderful.

im thankful.
carrie anne

Aunt Elaine's Favorite Song: What a Wonderful World

I see trees of green... red roses, too
I see em bloom.... for me and for you
And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue... clouds of white
Bright blessed days... dark sacred nights
And I think to myself... what a wonderful world.

The colors of a rainbow... so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces... of people going by
I see friends shaking hands... sayin how do you do
They're really sayin... I love you.

I hear babies cry... I watch them grow
They'll learn much more... than I'll never know
And I think to myself... what a wonderful world

Yes I think to myself...
What a wonderful world.