For the longest time after the crash I couldn't sleep. It was a good seven months before I could sleep. Nightmares came at times. No one wants that call when you know tragedy is on the other end. I'd often wake in the early hours, sitting up in bed, thoughts rushing through my head. Then I'd remind myself. Rob, he's in bed. He's asleep. He's safe.
There are nights late when I walk Stanley that the moon is hanging over and the stars are shining God's glory. In front of our home is a two lane highway. Some drive slow. Many make the choice to speed. With Stanley on his leash he spends his time hunting. He probably listens to me as I talk to God. I know he does. Every once in a while his ears will perk up. Everything at that time of night seems so peaceful. As if grace has covered the night.
I walk closer to the edge of the yard, keeping myself and Stanley safe. But I hear a car coming. As it passes I can feel the earth shake. The breeze from its speed rushes by and I in that moment think about what that night must have been for my husband. The impact. The rush. That moment where death and life are a fine line.
See, last October 12, 2016 he was in a severe crash. He was stopped at light. It turned green but before he could get the truck in gear the driver, Dawn Woosley of Washington, Missouri, was already swerving into his lane hitting him at a high rate of speed. Never braking. He was in her path of destruction. She was arrested that night for DWI. This woman refused to take a breathalyzer. Only one reason a person refuses that in my opinion. We are currently in two trials. One where the judge is making his decision on revoking her license. The second is the criminal case where she is charged with a Felony C- assault in the second degree-operating a vehicle while intoxicated. You can find all this information by going to case-net.This case is now set for jury trial April 5. Can you imagine a jury? They hate drunk drivers. Oh, wait. Accused drunk drivers. All twelve of them will hear the case, will hear my husband's testimony, and I will give the victim's impact statement. All this with our entire family sitting next to us.
It is for this reason I cannot share a lot about my husband. What I can share is he is suffering from Post Concussive Syndrome. It's been over a year now. He was out of work for five months. He was forced back to work. If he hadn't we would have lost everything we have worked so very hard for over the last twenty-seven years together. His memory is scary. This is the husband who never had to look for phone numbers. He could tell you by heart every number in his phone. He's never forgotten dates, times, years. February 14th is our anniversary. He's never forgotten. This is the first time. Our oldest daughter's birthday is at the end of this month. He had no idea. He has ringing/buzzing constant in his ears. He says it sounds like cicadas. It has never stopped. So, this has done scary things to his hearing. I now have to look directly at him so he can hear me. Confusion and fogginess create days where plans are cancelled and home is the safe place to be. One of the hardest parts of this concussion is not being able to attend birthday parties of our grandchildren and to play with them as he always has. Loud sounds bring him to his knees. Light. That brings on headaches. The intense neck pain has never ended. Like I shared. Good days and bad days, but every day has changed. Nothing in our lives is the same as it was before the crash on October 12.
I want my husband back. Whole and healed. I have become the person in our home who does the majority of everything. This isn't my husband. He's that man who helps me do everything. We have always helped one another. Now he grows so exhausted.
I remind myself that it won't always be this way. This too shall pass. God will make right all that is wrong. Our faith remains strong. We know our Lord stands for His people. He surrounds us with His strength. Covers us with His peace.
Closing my eyes I can hear the crash. I can hear metal crushing metal. I can see my husband rolling in his truck as he flipped end over end, landing upside down with gas pouring all over him and then crashing sideways into a utility pole. I see him frantically trying to get his six foot body out of a small side window.
Yes, it's been over a year now. But it hasn't ended. It's difficult to move forward when this is now your life. We live this life never wanted, never expected, but one that was forced upon us by an individual who was careless. You know, this person is a nurse? This nurse, this bar owner, gets out of her vehicle laughing with her friend and never checks on my husband. How does that happen? If a person is in their right mind wouldn't you rush over? If you know you had just caused an innocent crash wouldn't you do all you could to help the person who you just injured? Especially being a nurse of all things? She never even picked up her cell phone to call 911.
This Post Concussive Syndrome could last years. It could last a lifetime. This is what happens when irresponsible people get behind the wheel of a vehicle. My husband's life, my life, our entire family. To try and live a normal life, doing all the things we did before this crash, caring for our aging parents, helping with our grands, all of these activities of just a normal life is so extreme now. As it takes everything out of him it adds more stress to me. A circle that continues with such unknown. I have no idea where this Post Concussive Syndrome will take my husband. I can only pray for continued healing. Every day I wake up and hope to God that today is the day!
My husband loves to farm. He hasn't been able to do much of that. We planned a vacation to travel to New Mexico to spend time with my friend. It was suppose to be a trip that I have anticipated for a few years now. It just couldn't happen. My husband just wasn't up to traveling across country. This entire year has been altered because of one person who made a choice to place others in harms way when she decided to drive irresponsibility.
There are times I look at my husband and wonder where he is. What's he thinking? This protective and loving husband of mine gets this lost look in his eyes. This strong man, this husband of mine who has always cared for me and everything in our lives just isn't the same. How does a wife share all that with her husband? You can't. I can't. He already feels terrible that he can't remember as he once did before the crash. Often he doesn't feel like doing much. Work takes just about everything out of him.
He's a mail carrier. He loves his job. He's always traveled. Now he loves being at home. He's won safety driving awards. When he is on the road safety is his first priority. Not only his safety, but the safety of others. In his dangerous line of work he has witnessed many crashes, many deaths. He has seen drivers on fire in their trucks. So, imagine you have been in a crash, you're upside down and you feel gasoline pouring all over you. She crashed into him so powerfully that nothing underneath the truck was left. She crushed his gas tank. That fear hasn't left him.
What does a wife do? She does all she can to see that the woman who caused this with one choice to drive irresponsibly is held accountable for her actions. A wife speaks to attorneys, prosecutors, officers, the court, she makes appointments as she finds specialists. She helps her husband in ways like never before. She's a prayer warrior. A fighter for justice.
A wife too lives with every emotion. This woman, is she sorry? Sorry for being caught? Sorry the public will find out? Sorry about her reputation? Is she sorry for her actions, choices, and now dragging a family through six more months as we wait for a jury trial to begin? Without action saying I'm sorry is just empty words. Being sorry for your actions means taking accountability for your choices. It isn't placing blame on others and it certainly isn't making excuses. It's standing up, saying, I did this. I am ready to accept the responsibility for my choices and how they left a family living a new and unexpected life.
As I sat in court last month listening to her attorney question the police officers there to testify, he questioned whether or not she was even driving. Was her passenger Audrey driving? Maybe it was Mr. Prater's fault. Were his lights working? The officers testified that she was angry that she couldn't drive her car home. Her car was totaled!! She told them that my husband crashed into her?! How does that work when she crashed into him from behind? She wasn't in court this day to hear her attorney question the police officers. He tried to make them look incompetent, but the woman, the driver who is trying to get back her driver's license didn't even show up for court to be questioned about what happened and the truth of the crash. Her attorneys may tell her that's wise. but most people would see that as cowardly. If there is nothing to hide, if you did nothing wrong, why not be present in every court date, speaking on your own behalf?
At the time we took photos of the cars we wish now that we had taken a photo of her odometer. It broke at 76 miles per hour. We are told that new cars now have this ability that when they crash the odometer breaks at the speed they were driving at impact. As she topped the hill there was plenty of room. My husband was the only other car on the road. He in the right lane. She in the left. Why did she have to cross over? My husband would share with you that it was better him than a young mother on her way home from work or a youth on their way home after a shift at a local fast food joint. Better him than a young father rushing home to see his young children. But see, my husband has five children and five grandchildren. He's dad and Papa. He too has a wife who feels so blessed to be able to share a life of twenty-seven years with this faithful man who walks with such integrity. He is everything to me. He's the man who led me to Jesus. Who gave me my first born son. The man who every day tells me how beautiful I am.
Yes, as a wife, when you live daily witnessing your husband struggle you grow angry. You feel broken and at times so lonely because the man you once shared everything with you can no longer share your greatest fears. You feel exhausted and you just want it to all end. There are times I just break down and the tears fall as I cry out to the Lord. I feel overwhelmed and at times cheated. You pray for the judges, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, and yes, for Dawn and her passenger, Audrey. My greatest prayer is that God will bring good from what Satan deemed as evil. That God will make right all that is wrong. I pray that He moves on our behalf, but for every soul involved, every person who knows this case will come to know Christ as their Savior.
Tonight I pray that Dawn will plead guilty and hold herself accountable for her actions, being the example to her children and grandchildren, to the very people in her community. Being sorry isn't trying to manipulate the law in order to lessen your offense. Being sorry is being truthful about the accounts of the crash, before and after. Being sorry is humbling yourself and admitting you made poor choices and the choices you made invaded a family's life, maybe for a lifetime.
We can argue if she was drinking or not. The officer in court testified that she admitted leaving her bar where she had been drinking. Let's say she wasn't drinking. Then why make such poor decisions after the crash? Nothing about that makes any sense. I've seen car crashes just as you have. The normal action of people, especially when they have caused a crash is to run to the victim. Being a nurse you would think that would be second nature.
Sure, people pay high-powered attorneys for their advice, but that doesn't mean their advice is what is best for us. That's the same for visiting a doctor. For every person charged with a crime it is for that person to look into their heart, deep down, and ponder their decisions. What's best is to do what's right. Truth has a way of prevailing. We don't do what's right to make us feel better. We simple do what's right because it's what's right.
She could never place herself in our life this past year. She could imagine if it were her family, her husband, her child, her grandchild, but it wasn't. It was my husband. God's son, His child. He protected him that night and brought him home to me. He has been present in every moment of our lives. It won't always be this way. This too shall pass. God will make right all that is wrong.
This is our journey. Our life. It is our greatest hope that those who witness us live this unwanted life see Jesus living through us. It's His strength on our weakest days. His grace that brings us to our knees with grateful hearts. We know things could have turned out much different. A thousand different scenarios, but that's Satan's game. We cannot allow that to mold a root inside our head. It is a daily battle to fight all we know is wrong in this upside down world. We must choose to see that God has a plan and in this moment we are a part of this plan. So, we hold tight to Him and see just where He leads.