A Picture of Grace

Helicopter. MCAS Miramar. October, 2009.
Troop Movements 

Saturday we were choosing ice cream in the grocery store, enjoying the cool from the freezer, when my husband’s cell phone rang. 
I watched him answer, heard his voice grow thick and dark. “Where did they take her?” I tried to fill in the other end of the conversation, but my imagination was quiet. 
I watched him blink and swallow, tears filling, but not spilling from, his eyelids.

“See you soon.”

Rich snapped his phone shut and turned to me. “That was Susan. Mom’s been in an accident. She’s heading down to San Diego. She wants me to call the rest of my siblings.”
“Shall we ask the clerk to put our groceries back on the shelves?” I asked, jettisoning the day’s agenda.  
“No, we’re almost done here. I need to go outside to call everyone.”

“I’ll finish up and meet you at the car,” I offered, taking command of the shopping cart. 

I squeezed him. We prayed, right there in the freezer section. Then he went outside, phone in hand, preparing to shatter his sisters’ and brother’s Saturday afternoon.
Thirty minutes later, groceries stowed and overnight bag stuffed, we locked the front door of our home.
“Do you want me to drive?” I thought about another phone call, another accident, another long drive to a hospital.
“No, I’ll drive.” He handed me his cell phone. As we made our way to the freeway, he thought of more people for me to call. I kept both our phones busy, calling cousins, texting my dad. 
Traffic was heavy. It accordioned along the freeway, squeezing bumper to bumper, then teasing us with a moment of cruising speed.  Ahead of us, cars from Arizona, Colorado, Alberta, Florida clogged our path to the hospital.
Rich wasn’t drumming the steering wheel impatiently. He didn’t snap at the driver of the Lexus who wedged in ahead of us.
He just drove.
As we passed through Camp Pendleton, traffic stopped. To our right, on a strip of land between the freeway and the ocean, a Marine helicopter hovered. “We could use one of those right now,” he ventured, as traffic once again came to a stop.
I pictured a giant grappling hook snagging our Toyota, hoisting us aloft like a mouse in a hawk’s talons, whisking us through the sky as another helicopter had carried his mother, just a short while earlier, to the emergency room.
“This traffic is making me crazy,” I muttered.
Rich glanced at me. “It is what it is,” he reminded me.
His voice was calm and steady, his hand light on the wheel. I realized how right his judgment had been when he declined my offer to drive. I was better suited to offering recaps to worried family, tapping out messages on a tiny keyboard. He was focused on a single goal.
We had someplace important to be. And he, by God, was going to get us there.

1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)


  1. Healing Morning

    The morning after my birthday this year, my Mom had an accident. That early morning phone call never bodes well for any kind of happy news. Thankfully, the accident wasn't as bad as it could have been. Surgery was necessary, along with a lengthy recovery period and eventual rehab, but my focus and appreciation landed on the fact that I was here in town and able to immediately get to my Mom. Years ago, I was far away and unable to be present in times of crisis. I'm so happy for you that you have a strong family unit to turn to for support right now.

    I hope that your own situation has come to a positive resolution, and I send prayer and healing energy your way.

    ~ Dawn

  2. Diana Trautwein

    "Right there in the freezer section…" Of course, you did. What else is there to do when such a call comes? Any updates on how she (and you all) are doing? Been praying for you!

  3. You two make an excellent pair in an emergency situation. I can visualize Rich calm and collected (although probably very worried) but never-the-less driving in traffic as he should. And you his perfect other half, commanding the call center. Hope Mom is doing well.

  4. Thanks, Ladies.
    Mom was discharged to a skilled nursing facility today. Rich will be heading back down to San Diego tomorrow.

    Thanks for your prayers and support.

  5. I hope your mother-in-law is doing ok, Sheila! I saw your update on FB that she had been moved and hopped over here to see if I could find out what happened. Praying for her and you. And your sweet hubby.