Part 8: The Tragic Day
Because of the magnitude and the pain of this past weeks events, I didn’t want to drag out Amy’s story throughout the week because I know that she is re-reading it here. The pain will never stop. Praises to the Lord that Marra Freh is safe with Him. Her life has made an impact on everyone she has met and everyone she has not met. Please continue to surround this ENTIRE family with love and prayers as they continue to breathe each and everyday. I know this is a lot crammed into one day, but I chose to do this after reading today’s memory. The pain that she and Sten are going through is unbearable. Take your time in reading through the last final days, as I have continued to add them according to the days that Amy has written them.
In my mind, yesterday was a day of reliving and remembering the events of May 18, 2013. It was a Saturday last year and so vividly etched in my heart now. But, alas, the day came yesterday and I couldn’t bring myself to write a single thing. So haunting. For the past 365 days, I have played and replayed the events of that day over and over and over again in my head, looking for a loophole. Looking for a way that we could go back and change the course. But, this is it.
Today, the 18th of May, 2014 came and I can’t change the anniversary. I can’t make it not be true. So many details of that Saturday haunt me. They wake me up at night, they sneak up on me in moments that should be joyous and I shutter.
I was still in the hospital that morning when Sten had stopped in to see me. He was alone. We talked about the basics and I could tell he was feeling the stress of me being sick and away from home. I asked him not to take Freh to the tournament that afternoon since those events are always so crowded and really not safe. He said she would be fine and that I shouldn’t worry so much. I reminded him how she had taken to running from us and thinking it was funny. He said they would be fine.
He had many things to do that day before leaving for the games, so he said good-bye and I prepared to get into the shower. I was feeling irritated that I just couldn’t be home doing things the way I wanted and being with the kids. I got up to shower and my nurse came in to give me medicine. Again, irritated. I sat on the bed and was texting some sheets people who were arranging to pick up their sheets from another friend that day, I suddenly thought that I needed to call Sten and remind him to put the stroller in the back of the van to use with Freh at the tournament. We had taken it out to accommodate our luggage when we came home from Ethiopia and never put it back in. I had started putting Freh in the buggy straight from her carseat in recent weeks because she would take off running otherwise.
I tried him, but he didn’t answer. I thought I would go get my shower then. As you know, if you have spent any time in the hospital, NOTHING happens fast. I rang for my nurse to bring me stuff to cover my IV while in the shower and it took what seemed like forever to get it. Irritated. I sat and ate some of my lunch, broth and jello….and tried Sten again, no answer. The nurse came in and gave me what I needed to shower and asked me if I needed any pain medicine (I had been having a horrible head ache since Friday.) I decided to hold off on the shower until later and take some pain medicine and a nap.
I woke up, 4:15. I picked up the phone to call Sten again and as I did, it rang. It was my grandmother. We chatted about various things and in my head, I decided that I had missed the opportunity to call Sten about the stroller and I regretted not texting him about it. My GiGi and I continued to talk and then Sten beeped in. I let it go, thinking he just wanted to let me know that they had arrived at the park. It rang again immediately. I told Gigi to hold on a second. I clicked over and what I heard will echo in my head forever. Sten, breathless. screaming my name over and over. The only thing I could make out was Freh had been hit by a car. AMY. It.is.bad.
He hung up.
What happened over the next several minutes remain so clear in my memory. You’d think it would be a blur, but it is crystal clear. I climbed out of bed. Put my call light on. Called my sister Kristen who was on her way to come visit me and told her to hurry, Freh had been hit by a car. I called my in-laws, who were at my house. I gathered my things into a bag. I stopped to look out the window. It is so evident now that the information that Sten had said on the phone took about 5 minutes to register in my brain. Then, the nurse came in and when I had to look at another person and say “My daughter has been in an accident, I need to leave.” That is when it hit me. I had no idea how bad it was. I just started to shake. The nurse left to get the charge nurse. I took out my IV and stood there, shaking. Kristen arrived and she was freaking out. Sten called back. The only words I remember were helicopter, CPR, faint pulse and whimper.
I asked him what part of her had been hit, he said he thought it was her chest and back because she had tire marks up her back. I remember thanking God that it wasn’t her head. That she was so tiny and soft-boned that, as long as it wasn’t her head, she would survive.
I don’t remember much of getting to Johns Hopkins. I know I said prayers and begged and pleaded and offered exchanges with God, that if he would only just spare my child…….
We pulled up to the trauma center and we got out. A peace fell over me that to this day I can only explain as the Holy Spirit. We told the gentleman at the desk that we were the family of the infant that was coming in via helicopter. He called on his radio to another security person and then directed us down a long, empty white hallway. He asked us to stand at a door until someone could come get us. It was Krissy, Ben, Karen, Lars and I. Sten was coming with Abe from the tournament. A coach was driving them. In my head I envisioned going in to see my girl on some tubes and maybe with some broken bones and cuts and scrapes. In my world, my kids would always be ok. I mean, I had always been given a chance to fight for them. To advocate and pray them back to health. To persevere on their behalf.
The doors swung open and three people walked out. A doctor. a nurse and another woman. As soon as I saw their faces I knew. They asked who was “mom”. I stood. Then he said it. “I’m sorry. Your daughter didn’t make it. We did everything we could, but she died in the helicopter from severe injuries to her brainstem.” As he spoke, I slid down the wall to the floor. and everyone was talking and crying.
I begged them NO. NO. NO.
Sten came then with Abe. I remember grabbing his face in my hands begging him to never blame himself. I didn’t even know what had happened. That there never even was any reason to blame him. I saw the terror on his face. I felt the weight of ten-thousand years as he held me and we sobbed for our baby. The most precious baby.
It is hard today to look back at that day and see God’s hand. But, over the past year, I have gained a holy perspective and because of the events that followed this horrific Saturday afternoon, I am able to sit here and attest to the palpable power of the Holy Spirit. The people who showed up and literally held us up. They are proof that God is very much real and living and breathing, and He showed up to weep with us. To hold our hands, feed our bellies, wipe our tears. And he has not left us. For our God is fighting for us always. We are not alone.