Two weeks ago, I imagined myself writing my first post vacation post: a reflection of the time our family spent together away from the stress and exhaustion of everyday life, imagined photos of us sunbathing on the banks of the Colorado River, stories of our girls exploring the desert and mountainous terrain. I imagined the memories we would make as a family on our first real vacation in years.
Sadly, none of those things happened. On the second day of our trip, Shawn was involved in an accident and sustained life threatening injuries. I arrived at the scene of the accident to find my worst nightmare come true: Shawn, the strongest, bravest, most powerful soul I have ever known, fighting for his life. With my heart in my throat and my hands shaking from fear, I used every ounce of my strength and my years of nursing experience to save his life and keep him stable. Help arrived after what seemed like an eternity, a helicopter landed in the middle of the desert like an angel soaring through the sky. Against all odds, the man I love with every fiber of my being made it through the night, the longest night of our lives.
We have spent the last 12 days in a trauma unit at a hospital in Nevada. During his accident, Shawn sustained an open compound fracture of the humerous bone in his left arm, a severed brachial artery, a nondisplaced fracture in the first vertebrae of his spine, a detached right ear, and multiple lacerations and abrasions on his head and face. I have stood by his side as he lay in ICU in critical condition, held his hand as he took his first steps down the long hospital hallway after days in bed, fed him and bathed him, cleaning the blood and battle wounds that marked his whole body. We have laughed and rejoiced in the simple fact that he is alive, cried over the uncertainty of our future and his prognosis, prayed for strength and the ability to make it out of this situation as better people.
Our girls were cared for lovingly by Shawn's mother while we have taken up residence in the hospital. Due to the very high risk of infection and the extreme contamination of his wounds by the dirt and rocks at the site of the accident, the doctors recommended they not step foot inside the hospital, even to visit their daddy. I was able to spend time with them several times this week, soaking in every ounce of their love and allowing their little girl hugs to heal my soul. This afternoon, with Shawn's hospital stay looming on into next week, we made the very difficult decision to send our daughters home to Louisiana with my mother. They need their home, the stability of their familiar environment. I brought them to the airport and kissed them a million times on their sweet little cheeks, tears filling my eyes as Isabelle whispered, "Be strong, mama".
And so, here we are, 12 days in, our lives completely changed in ways we are only now beginning to understand. Shawn's recovery has stunned every doctor, nurse, and passerby. His will and determination have carried us through some of our darkest hours. During the first night, I prayed for him to live. And he did. During the first week, I prayed for him to keep his arm. And he did. Now, we anxiously await his fourth surgery since the accident, hoping to repair some of the nerve damage he has suffered. Now, I am praying that he continues to heal and remains free from infection, that he will regain full use of his arm and hand and continue living this life with the spirit of a warrior. I know he will.
Our vacation may not have been the journey we anticipated, but it has been a life changing journey regardless. People have always complimented Shawn and I for our positive attitudes, for our ability to see life for what it truly is. Those qualities have never been more relevant to us than they are now. This is living: one day at a time, being thankful for each breathe. We had a glimpse of what life could be and it has shaken us to our core, allowed us to come together in ways we never knew existed. After 13 years of life together, I can tell you that I know now more than ever what love really is. In sickness and in health, we are here, together. We are surviving.
I promise to share more of our story soon. I am still processing so much of what has happened and want to record as much of it as possible. We ask you all to keep Shawn and our family in your thoughts and prayers.