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He Knew

Who knew that the events that transpired in my life on November 13, 2016, would be a foreshadowing of what was to come exactly two years later?

God knew though.

Exactly two years ago, I broke my ankle in the most random of accidents. It came out of the blue with the only prior warning being a bit of pain in my shin hours before.

After I was given the diagnosis – trimalleolar fracture – I cried. I was dismayed by the projected recovery time – two years was the norm. I was scared as I wondered if I’d ever be able to run again. I was out of sorts because of the lack of control that I now had over my life.


Thus began a long, painful road to recovery – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

As a person who’s used to taking care of herself, all I could do, for the first nine weeks, was to let myself heal. In fact, I did nothing for two and a half weeks but sit, with my ankle elevated. I was only allowed to get up and potty. That was it. I couldn’t risk injuring it worse the week before my surgery, and I had to let my bones begin to fuse together after the twelve pins and plate were put in. I had to learn how to let others help me. I had to trust God to do the most important work – repairing my bones.

To say that I was frustrated would be an understatement, but I was determined to make the best of it.

The eight months of physical therapy that followed were full of ups and downs and a lot of tears as I discovered basic movements that were no longer simple for me. Learning how to walk seemed to be easier for a toddler than for this over-forty year old gal. You might recall that I used a buggy at Sam’s Club to help me figure things out. It was the grown up version of a push walker, but when things get hard, sometimes you have to be creative.

I had another setback in the fall of 2017 when I had another surgery – this time to remove the hardware because it had been giving me problems. The recovery wasn’t as easy as I’d expected, but ultimately, it was the best decision as much of the pain I’d been experiencing from the pins gradually went away.

I’m a firm believer that God uses everything in our lives for good, and though I’d been seeing blessings throughout my recovery from my injury, I had no idea how much these life lessons would mean to mean to me a year later.

Fast forward to today, November 13, 2018.

Today is the day when I will open my classroom door to an unknown number of students – most of whom I haven’t seen since October 5th. That was the Friday before a long weekend (Columbus Day).

None of us had any inkling that day of what was to come. I probably told my 7th period class to make good choices. It’s something I typically say on a Friday.

I’d grabbed a couple of books in case my reading prowess grew during what I anticipated to be a restful weekend.

At the time, Hurricane Michael wasn’t even a blip on our radar. We only learned of a cyclone through an emergency text message that Saturday or Sunday. By Monday, we were beginning to make preparations for a storm we still thought would be minor.

We waited to see if school would be cancelled for Tuesday. It was, but we assumed we would be back to school that Thursday.

Then, Wednesday happened. I’d evacuated in the middle of the night and sent my students a message through Remind 101 early that morning. Many had stayed. I checked in periodically with them, but by the middle of the afternoon, those who were still in town didn’t have cell service any more.

It was frightening. None of us knew when we would see each other again. Even though we had only been together as a student body for two and a half months, we had grown close. When you depend on each other to pass a mandatory reading test to graduate, the bonds get tight.

I returned home a week after the hurricane and began to pick up the pieces of my life.  Although I saw a few students at the football game that my district arranged a few weeks ago, I still haven’t seen many others. I’m eager to lay my eyes on them.

As I sit here composing this, I can’t help but wonder what I’ll say to my students as we begin to regroup. How can I apply the lessons I learned through my own recent struggles with my ankle to what we are going through right now?

Here are some things I’ll probably share with my kids.

I think it’s important to remember that there are going to be stretches when we can’t do anything – when waiting is the name of the game. As hard as it is to sit back, sometimes God needs time to orchestrate things – to align people and circumstances.

Sometimes, we are going to need to ask for help. This is a humbling thing, but just as I couldn’t even carry a plate to the sink when I was hurt, we can’t always carry the load of rebuilding on our own. We need to allow people to come alongside us.

We need to accept that recovery will not happen in a day or a week. I’m still recovering from my ankle injury – two years later. Similarly, it’s going to take years to rebuild after the devastation left by the storm.

We need to remember that it’s okay to cry. Recovery is painful, and we will be hit by the blues randomly. Just this weekend, I experienced a lot of pain in a tendon connected to my ankle. It was random and made me cry in frustration. So it will be with this storm recovery.

For me, simply taking out old trees from my yard has hurt my heart as the memories associated with these landmarks flood in. Most landmarks will be gone forever. Every time we want to go to a store that’s no longer there or want to eat at a favorite restaurant that’s been blown away, we are going to be sad. Just thinking about Christmas shopping is depressing because, quite simply, not much is open on this side of the bridge.

We are also going to be inconvenienced. When I went through physical therapy, I gave up two or three afternoons of my week, but it was for my own good. Post-hurricane life has brought with it new schedules as most of us are being asked to attend school at different times. The increased traffic is wreaking havoc on when we expect to get places, but most of that is because of the people fixing power lines or picking up debris. Complaining won’t help as we are all facing the same obstacles.

We also need to remember that, just as my ankle injury left scars, Hurricane Michael is going to leave permanent marks on our lives. Some of them will be on the outside – altered skylines, demolished homes, renovated buildings. Others will be on our hearts. These are going to be the hardest to deal with.

I pray that as we lay our eyes on the visible scars in the months and years that follow, we will be reminded of not just the beginning of the journey but every step we took toward making things right again.

Some people cringe when they see the angry, red line on the inside of my ankle, but I always tell them that it’s okay. I see a beautiful path toward healing – one marked with so many blessings. I met the most incredible surgeon and nursing staff that tended to my broken bones. I met others along the way who either helped me or empathized with me due to their own similar experiences.

We will do the same after the hurricane. We will remember talking to the people who lived near us who we’d never had a chance to talk to because fences or walls separated us. We will remember hot meals handed out by churches and other charities near and far. We will remember the thousands of first responders, locally based and many from afar, who not only directed traffic or provided security at various locations, but who also carried water and other supplies when our arms grew weary.

We will remember strangers, friends, and family who housed us during and after the storm. They tended to our fragile spirits while tangibly providing for our most basic needs.

We will never take the beauty of nature for granted and may even become tree huggers in the process.

We will see that we are stronger than we ever thought possible – only because we stand on God’s shoulders.

I heard a line from a song that was playing on the radio the other day. It said that light shines through broken pieces. We are definitely broken, but God’s light is shining though. He will take our shattered lives and rebuild them into something new – something better – something stronger . . .

. . . because He knew this would happen but that He could and would work though it.

One Response

  1. Oh friend…. its funny how life lessons teach us over & over….
    I’m sure you’re going to give wise insight today… but I bet those kids have grown up a lot over the past few weeks & will have insight for you & everyone else as well. The stories shared is what’s going to give strength to you all!!!!
    Praying for your day!!!

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