Bay Grape in Oakland, the beautiful wine bar we were at.
This was the last text I got from my daughter before her motorcycle accident on May 20th. I had been checking in with her throughout the day, and our last check-in point was at 5:58pm, when she texted me telling me she saw many dolphins and baby deer, and that is was beautiful! I literally said to myself at that moment, "Well, if she dies today, at least she saw something beautiful right before...." Let me give you a little background to how it unfolded.
The thursday night before her accident, her and her boyfriend were having dinner at our place, we had tacos. They were on their phones checking the weather for the next day, Friday, because they had planned on a day in Point Reyes, on his motorcycle. I was like, "I heard it's going to be blustery tomorrow, is that a good idea to go on the motorcycle in that area with high winds?" I guess my comments were too passive aggressive, at least with them both present, because I made it crystal clear and loud and clear with my daughter later that night and right away early the next morning, "PLEASE, please I'm literally begging you, don't go on the motorcycle, please honey!" Little did I know she was already on it as my texts came through.
I instantly called my husband, because a fear rushed over me, a stronger fear and worry this time. Maybe because I don't usually know when she's on it LOL, and this time I did, or because of the weather or my instinct. I had a bad feeling about it. And I was ticked that her boyfriend would still take her on it, even though he's not responsible for her, I thought he could have listened to my concerns and decided to just take a car, but no such luck. I was furious with him. So I called my husband right away and filled him in and we both prayed all day. I then, like I said earlier, did little check points with her to make sure she was safe and OK. And she was. Until she wasn't.
My husband and I went to a wine bar that night with church for a friend who was moving away, around 7p, shortly after I texted with my daughter. I had basically assumed she was OK and made it through the day because they were making their way back out of Point Reyes, so I had moved on in my thought process and prayer from the day. I was well into and happily on my second glass of wine, when I saw Kevin grab his phone and said, "HI PANGE (his nic-name for Madelynn)", in a smiling happy voice. We're always glad to hear from her! It was around 9:20pm. Anyway, he disappeared and I didn't think much of it.
Less than 5 minutes later he came into the bar, walking very focused toward me, and says, with big eyes, piercing into mine, "Gina, Madelynn's OK, but...(wait for it.....wait take a breath....what is it????), but her and Leo were in a motorcycle accident."
"WHAT??? WHO ARE YOU ON THE PHONE WITH? WHAT DO YOU MEAN?? HOW? WHERE? WHEN? GIMME THE PHONE? WHO IS THIS?? WHAT'S GOING ON WITH MY CHILD? WHERE IS SHE? WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT DO YOU MEAN BROKEN BONES??? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW??? WHO IS THIS AGAIN??? DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME??? WE ARE ON OUR WAY...................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I was making a scene in front of the bar, it has all glass windows at the front, and finally our pastor came out to try to calm us, me, down. I was making strangle movements with my hands in reference to her boyfriend, I was hitting my fist into my hand, and if I had more might, I probably would have tore my fingers off, one by one. I was in SHOCK. It actually HAPPENED??? What on earth??
A sidenote--when we were standing around at the wine bar, earlier in the night--I noticed my wristlet down fairly far from me where I first set it, and I thought to myself, when I looked at it, "I better grab that just in case, because my phone is in there...." and that is ultimately how I missed all the calls from the ER nurses. Finally, it was Leo's brother who called Kevin's phone, and he thank goodness, picked up. It was incredibly difficult to hear about this almost 3 hours later--more on that in Part 2.
Our pastor loaned us his car and we were in Marin within 27 minutes. I'm she we were speeding. I had to focus on my breath the whole time I was driving. Not sure how I made it to Marin General Hospital.
When we arrived, the receptionist said something about Madelynn being in surgery. I started to flip out AGAIN! SURGERY?? What are you talking about?? NOOOOOOOOO no no!
Well then that got cleared up, she was NOT in surgery, and then the nurse that brought us back to see her, said she had a contusion, a bad one, on her lung and that she may need a breathing tube, if her lung fails, I thought, WHAT??? I was a royal mess. I kept trying to keep perspective, the good counselor in me is constantly doing that--but I had emotions here! I needed to feel them, but I also knew there was a TIME AND PLACE. The thought that some parents aren't getting the "good news" that I was getting tonight, kept coming in and out of my head and I was heart broken for them. And I instantly thought about my best friend Amy that died--how her mom Sandy, I got a tiny tiny tiny glimpse of a rush of what that could possibly be like to hear that your daughter is going to die, and I felt like I was suffocating.
And I was SO angry at Leo, and feeling so regretful that Madelynn chose to go on the Motorcycle that day, especially when I was begging her not to. I know she would be afraid to see me because she knew I had a feeling about it. And she was I guess. But I was able to turn my focus and anger and frustration toward good and for her. She didn't need my "told ya so's" she didn't need my "have you learned your lessons' now?" she needed love, grace and mercy, and that is what I dug deep down moment by moment to give her, and she was grateful.
View from Marin Hospital, second floor.
Nells rarely left her side through all of this.
Home after surgery.
Flowers from friends.
My dad leaving, (he and his wife drove across country from MN to CA to bring us Madelynn's car so we'd have one to get to and from appointments. SO grateful!)
A little home PT before she starts real PT.
How desperate I got for meals to give her and make us. I was so depleted in so many ways, one night I literally handed her falafel with feta cheese sprinkled on top. She graciously took it and then 5 minutes later handed it back to me, saying it was too dry ROTFL LOL!
Madelynn cried and told us about what happened, how the accident unfolded and what she was thinking and some of the eerie feelings she had that day too. She said she actually asked Leo eariler that day, that if they crashed, how should she land!!!!!!!! I mean what??!!
She went on to tell us how sorry she was, and to not be mad at her. Goodness child! Never! Never would any of my frustrations, anger or regrets outweigh the love I have or Kevin has for you-- to not love you or show kindness to you regardless of the situation. Mercy always trumps judgement, and we are here to be merciful. We are here to love you. We are even here to love Leo (that will be in Part 2).
As she was getting settled into her room, later she told us at like two in the morning, randomly, another eerie thing, that when they were driving after seeing the dolphins and baby deer, she quickly said to herself, "Dear Jesus, I don't want to die today....." My jaw hung open as the three of us lay there in her hospital room, in disbelief of the way the day shook out. I mean I strongly believe in my whole heart that God protected her that day. They say she flew almost 50 feet!!!!!!! How do you survive that? Without the way she landed or her helmet, for sure we would not be having the same outcome and my blog post would certainly be completely different than this.
Most of you know she ended up with a broken collarbone, and has since had surgery to put a plate in her bones, a broken shoulder blade and a broken foot. They call it a Poly-break, and it's all on her right side, so she was pretty much immobile for the first 4 weeks. The contusion on her lung healed, praise God and she's recovering well, aside from some nasty athletes foot she has!
She's back to work now and is off pain meds! She's such a champion and hasn't complained hardly at all. Her next post-op is in one week, where hopefully she will be even more free, maybe even without her crutch. But for now, she is out of her brace and has a post-surgical shoe on, but no weight bearing still, so that gets old. But she's marching through the storm, and I'm humbled that I've been with her as she navigates the lightening and thunder, and some hail along the way. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
Ps. She's DONE with motorcycles. FOREVER.