On the day of Joel's surgery we walked in & took over the critical care waiting room. And when I say took over I mean took over! We easily had 15 people there. We had laptops, chargers, coolers, bags, blankets, food, food & more food. Our group took up the entire left side of that waiting room. We knew it would be a long day of waiting. I was wound very tight about Joel's surgery & this group was there to keep me sane & keep the mood as light as they could. To the right of us there was a very large group as well. I watched their group grow throughout the day. There was a sadness that totally engulfed their side of the room. No one was talking-no one was laughing-no one was smiling. I would watch them throughout the day & see different people filtering in. I watched as a new person would come in the room-hug the family-& collapse into tears. As I watched I wondered what their story was. I would find out soon. He was an older man in boots & overalls. I wish I could remember his name but I do not recall it. I do, however, remember his sons name. It was Joseph. He was 30 years old & full of life. A big world out there still waiting to greet him. His Father told us that he had been with Joseph & all his friends that Thursday morning. They had spoken with the Father about their plans for the day-four-wheeling at Little Sahara. The Father had asked Joseph not to go. He told him that he had a bad feeling about it. The son didn't listen to the Father. Joseph went to Little Sahara that day. He flipped his four-wheeler & it landed on top of him. The Father said it split Joseph's face in two. As this Father spoke I looked into his eyes heavy with fear & with grief. My heart broke for him. We listened to his story-you could tell that he needed to talk. We all told him that we would pray for him. Then I quietly retreated back into my own world & my own worries.
As I was in the recovery room with Joel I turned my face to peek into the bed beside us. That is when I saw Joseph. To say that his face was deformed would be an understatement. He was barely recognizable as human. And I say that in the most sincere way that I can. All that I could recognize was 2 eyes. He appeared to no longer have a nose or even a mouth. In looking at him I didn't even see how he could have normal human function at all. It was that bad. I tried not to stare & only allowed myself one last glance. I will never forget his face. Josephs life is forever changed. When he looks in the mirror he will never again see the face of the person he once was. I was seeing the shocking revelation of who he now was even before he will. It will take an incredible amount of love for a woman to look past his horrific scaring & into his heart. He will probably be gawked at & stared at for the rest of his life. It will never be an easy road for him. This-I realized-is why his family was absolutely devastated.
I remember waking up the day after we first received Joel's bad news to check CNN. There was a story there of a man who had lost 13 members of his family in the Air India crash a few nights prior. 13 members of his family! His wife, children, mother, brothers, nieces, nephews all gone in an instant. This mans story & Joseph's story made me realize that truly no matter how bad you have it there is ALWAYS someone who has it worse than you. As you are consumed with grief so are others. And as they are able to move forward so will you. You are never alone in your pain, even though it seems sometimes as though you are.
As I turned away from Joseph to face my husband I felt a new wave of thankfulness for where we were in our journey. We would be able to walk out of the hospital in a matter of days-his family would still be in the waiting room. Joel's scar & therefor our story-forever concealed under his shirt. It would be our choice if we wanted to share it with others. Joseph wouldn't have this luxury. His story would story will precede him wherever he goes.
I think about Joseph's family often & pray for him every night. I will never forget them or him. For in our moment of pain he made me realize no matter how dire our circumstances-we are so blessed. Thanks to Joseph I will take that reminder with me forever.