And it tasted incredible. I wanted Grandpa and Grandma Higginson to try it, so mom helped me cut two perfect pieces and put them on a plate.
Back home I told mom of my tragedy. I had wanted them to have some. I knew they'd have been impressed. "Let's see if there's any more," Mom suggested. There was a little left but it was messy and all the layers were muddled together. It wasn't pretty. I wasn't sure. "It still tastes good. They'll like it," Mom said.
Together we dished up the rest and I carefully walked back to Grandpa and Grandma's. Mom was right. They thought it was delicious and ate every bite. Then I told them what had happened and how sad I was that they didn't get to see the beautiful pieces.
"Where did you drop it?" Grandma asked.
"In your yard. Right by the door," I said.
"This is just too delicious to waste," she said and Grandpa agreed.
I walked back home bursting with pride. I may have cried a little. I was only about twelve, after all.
This time of year brings with it the anniversaries of some of my most life-altering experiences. Every year during this time, I'm reminded of these events, the miracles surrounding them and what they mean to me.
It's been sixteen years now since we were in that car accident. Bruce, who was 3 years old, is now serving a mission. He's a good-looking young man. You'd never know he had 182 stitches in his cute little face. After the impact, while we were waiting for help, I couldn't see him. He sat behind me in the car, crying, saying he was dying. I was pinned in my seat by the dashboard and couldn't see the horrific damage that had been done to my sweet little boy. I kept telling him he'd be okay and I loved him. But I was scared. I didn't know how bad he was injured. That metal window frame and all the broken glass from that back passenger window had really hurt him.
I was in the front passenger seat, concerned about everyone else in the car and worried that I was paralyzed. My lower back was on fire and I couldn't move my legs at all. I didn't know if it was because they were trapped or if it was because of my injuries. My pelvis was fractured in four places and my elbow was crushed. I spent the first 24 hours in the ICU because I was bleeding internally. The pain was shocking.
I don't share these things for sympathy. I tell you them because of the miracle I watched happen after the wreck. The miracle of healing. I watched my little boy's mangled face change from huge gaping wounds to angry red lines to light pink lines to white lines to almost invisible lines.
I watched my legs. The weeks after the wreck were like slowly turning a kaleidoscope as the rivers of bruises all over my legs changed from almost black to purple and blue then green and yellow, before they disappeared altogether. The legs I couldn't even lift up gradually became strong again. We were a sad and broken mess and although we still carry scars, with time, we experienced the miracle of healing.
On April 26, 1985, my sixteen-year-old brother Bruce was killed in a car accident. That event changed my life. I knew sorrow in a way I never had before. My heart ached with a crushing, physical pain. I watched my family, especially my parents, suffer almost crippling anguish. But miracles happened. The miracle of family, friends and love. There are still scars on our hearts, but once again we experienced the miracle of healing.
Today we celebrate Easter, the Savior's death and resurrection and atonement. The miracle of all miracles. Because of this miracle, my brother lives. Because of this miracle, we all live. This miracle brings us peace and comfort. This miracle allows me to be forgiven. This is the ultimate miracle of healing.
Wikipedia calls a miracle a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is considered to be divine.
These are just a few of the miracles that strengthen my faith and make it solid. I don't know the science behind the creation or the resurrection. I don't know how God hears my prayers at the same time that so many others are also praying. I don't know how He heals us when doctors aren't sure it's possible. I don't understand exactly how He orchestrates the answers to my prayers. I don't have to know all these things to know that He lives, that He's there and that He loves each of us.
I'm grateful for the miracle of Easter.
Let me do a quick translation for you. "If you don't volunteer to coach your daughter's team, she will get less playing time and therefore the money you spent for her to get this opportunity to see if she likes basketball and has a talent there will be largely wasted. This, dear parents, is a chance for you to show if you love your daughter at all. If you don't volunteer, it will be evidence that you don't care about your daughter's well-being and you're probably not a very good parent."
Since I'm good at translating messages like that, I knew what I had to do. I volunteered. And since two of the games were on Saturdays when I had book signings scheduled, Travis volunteered to help me volunteer, because he loves his daughter, too.
If you read my blog, you know I love basketball. I have a good knowledge of the game and I love watching teams I care about. But I'd never coached beyond giving my kids encouraging pointers before the game, so this was a new experience. It turned out to be fun, even though our girls were outmatched in all but a couple of games.
The league was for 7th and 8th graders and our team was almost entirely 7th graders. We were also the shortest by several inches and we were playing teams with a ton of talent. But our girls were scrappy and enthusiastic and they never, ever gave up. We finished the season with only two wins, but I discovered something amazing. If we gave them something to accomplish, they finished the game with smiles on their faces and excitement in their step.
It was the little victories.
The score might not even be close, but if we set a goal to get ten steals in the second half, the girls did it, so they left feeling successful. If the goal was to keep a girl from scoring again, they tightened up their defense and did it. We had little victories every game and the girls left winners every game. Even if the score said we were losers, the girls walked out with their heads held high, because they'd reached their goal.
Life is full of opportunities to have little victories, but I'm not always great at recognizing them when it comes to myself. Some days I feel like a loser. I feel like I can't get this whole wife/mom/homemaker/writer/human being thing right. Why can't I set myself up for success the same way I set my little team up for success. Maybe I can't do it all right, but maybe I can give myself something smaller that I can accomplish if I try hard. And then even if I'm not perfect at everything, I can hold my head up because of what I DID do right.
Sometimes success isn't about being THE best at something. It's about being YOUR best. And maybe I don't have to be the best mother that ever walked the earth. Maybe today it's enough not to raise my voice when I'm irritated. And maybe I won't ever be the perfect wife, but I can be happy that I was a good wife. Perhaps instead of beating myself up that I haven't lost five pounds this week, I can congratulate myself that I exercised three times and only ate ice cream twice.
We'd probably all do well to take some pride in our little victories instead of beating ourselves up when we aren't the big winner.
I was talking to my sister whose husband had taken the day off work to go on a field trip with his daughter. My sister reported that her 7-year-old was thrilled. Her dad was going to be the only dad and he was taking off work to go with her. She was beaming with pride.
Both scenarios reminded me of my mission. As a missionary, I only got four or five letters from my dad the entire time I was gone. But when I got them, it was huge. I was so glad he'd taken time to write them.
These reactions to gestures from dad are interesting to me. I text my kids regularly that I love them, or have a good day, or good luck on your test. I (and my sister) have gone on many field trips with our kids, and while they're really glad we're there, it doesn't pack the same punch. I got a letter from my mom every two or three days on my mission, and while I loved them and was grateful for them, those few letters from dad seemed more monumental.
At first glance, I'm tempted to put on my mom the martyr hat and mope around feeling taken for granted, unappreciated, and unloved.
But is that the case? I don't think so.
Of course I love it when my kids say thank you for something I've done, or when I get a text back that tells me they love me too, but if I'm being honest, I'm glad my kids can take me for granted. I want them to be able to count on me and know that I've got their back and I'm there whenever they need me. I want them to be able to expect all the little gestures and the big gestures.
This isn't to say that our fathers' love is in question and so it means more when we get these reassurances. My kids know their dad loves them all the time. I'm sure my niece knows her dad loves her all the time. I never had a question about my own dad's love for me.
Maybe dads get more credit for these efforts because they don't come as naturally or easily to men. I don't know for sure. But one thing I'm sure of--I want my kids to know my love and support is so constant and unwavering that they don't even need to think about it. It's like their air.
I also want them to recognize and love the efforts made by their dad and it's okay with me if those are the ones that get the most recognition.