One very hot afternoon in August, Cody called me and said he just saw a bad car accident on the highway.
I was not particularly alarmed. He travels a lot for work, and the operative words “saw a car accident” sounded a lot better to me than “was in a car accident.” I asked him what happened, and then I understood why he sounded very shaken.
He had been traveling home from North Carolina in the mountains on a desolate highway when a van suddenly crossed the median and plastered the semi truck driving in front of Cody.
He explained that he immediately pulled over, called OnStar to report the accident, and ran to the semi truck to check on the driver. (This is where I swell with pride over the bravery and selfless actions of my husband in a situation where he had zero time to think). It was pouring down rain, and he told me the reason he didn’t bother to approach the van was he assumed the driver was dead (he actually ended up being ok). He climbed the cab of the semi truck, helped the driver out of the seatbelt, and walked him to the side of the road to sit down.
Cody said he wasn’t really scared or even too shaken by what he had seen, until he was giving his eyewitness account to the state trooper, who looked Cody in the eye and said, “It’s a good thing that truck was in front of you. If he hadn’t been there, we’d be scraping you off the sidewalk.”
The thought had not even occurred to my husband, but the statement (while morbid) was jarring and truthful. The van had crossed the median so fast, Cody was sure he would not have had time to swerve if he’d been right in its path. If that had been the case, I would have received a very different phone call from someone I didn’t even know, and my world would have been changed forever.
I’ve always been very aware how fast and tragic life can change…not so much in a morbid way but just in a very acute way. I’m not sure why, since I have been very fortunate in my life thus far. But it’s something I am even more aware of now that I keep a gratitude journal. By writing down each gift from each day, even something as small and simple as Heidi’s laughter or sharing coffee with a friend, I am making that thing tangible…something that can be broken, shattered, taken away as well as tucked away in safekeeping to be treasured forever.
The act of a simple recording of a day’s gifts, however, has also made me feel so humbled. I appreciate my life more…my husband more…my daughter more. Instead of feeling fed up with Cody’s work schedule, I have grown to be so proud of how hard he works, and I’m so thankful he loves his job. Instead of feeling fed up with Heidi in bed with me at the wee hours of the morning, I tuck her in close, breathe in that toddler smell I will one day cry about because I miss it so bad, and enjoy her cuddled presence next to me. Instead of letting a day gone awry get the best of me, I try to remind myself to be thankful I am even in that day at all, and, God willing, another day will dawn for me tomorrow.
With the wisdom that can only come from age and the passing of time, I’ve been learning to enjoy my life more and complain less. I try to thank more and expect less. I try to relish more and waste less. I’m not perfect, and I still have days I sit in my sweats all day and cry and drink only coffee and eat only chocolate and yell at my kid and nag my husband and just completely lose it. You’ll have that. But in the trying is where God meets us halfway.
After that phone call with Cody, I wasn’t focused on the fact he could have died, but I was so thankful he didn’t. And you know what else I thought? I was thankful that not once did I think, “What if he had? What about that fight? What about the way I nagged him about the lawn? What about that nasty name I called him just this morning? I would had to live with that my whole life.” Instead, I was thinking, “I am so glad I thanked God for him just this morning. I am so glad the last thing I said to him last night on the phone before bed was, ‘I love you.’ I am so glad Heidi and I stayed up late to FaceTime him before we all went to bed. I am so thankful I didn’t waste time nagging him about the lawn and the patio and the unhung photos and his bad mood the other day. I am so thankful he is ok.”
Not every day or night will be perfect. We won’t always love well, and the last thing we say to each other might be something we would never want anyone else to ever hear us say. But the poignancy of this event happening on this day…a day I was actually doing better at practicing gratitude in all areas of my life… humbled me to tears. I’m thankful the lesson wasn’t the other way around…that I wasn’t feeling shameful at how I had acted just the night before or that morning.
Tomorrow is our five-year wedding anniversary. I praise God today for the man Cody is and how God wrote our story over a spanof 14 years.
Thank you, God, for the man (well, boy at the time) who talked to me in history class my sophomore year and told me I was pretty the very first time we ever talked.
Thank you, God, that we became best friends and ‘grew up’ together in high school. I am fairly certain this protected me from unnecessary dating around.
Thank you, God, that Cody pursued me…even through college, even through three other guys I dated, and through times I wasn’t even sure who I was or what I wanted. He was always checking up on me, and it was more comforting at the time than I cared to admit.
Thank you, God, we were surrounded by amazing friends, who encouraged us as we dated and prayed about marriage with us.
Thank you, God, for his tender heart and how he proposed in my parents’ backyard (with tears!) even though he couldn’t afford a ring.
Thank you, God, for Cody’s adventurous spirit, completely ready for six-week engagement….much to my parents’ dismay.
Thank you, God, for Cody’s commitment and ambition to work over the past five years, which have allowed me to quit my job and stay home with Heidi.
Thank you, God, even for our ugly fights and bad days. Walking through those times together have made us stronger. There’s nothing more freeing than walking through a bad season with someone just to see them still standing by your side and holding your hand when the smoke clears.
Thank you, God, for the way he is with Heidi. He is the sweetest dad (and much more patient than me!).
Thank you, God, for showing us that marriage is not about having the perfect marriage or the perfect life but about giving ourselves up for one another. It’s a tough lesson, but I wouldn’t want to be learning it with anyone else.
Place me like a seal over your heart
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy[a] unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.[b]
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it[c] would be utterly scorned.
~Song of Solomon 8:6-7