94: A Necessary Break

94: A Necessary Break

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

A Necessary Break

Miracles happen every day, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you.

~Jon Bon Jovi

On January 27, 2011, a massive nor’easter swept through the D.C. metro area and blanketed the city in heavy, wet snow that downed trees, caused power outages, and closed schools. The ambulatory surgery center where I worked was also closed; therefore I too was home with the children. Excitedly, they looked at the glistening white snow from our fifteenth-floor condo window. “Mama! Can we please go out sledding today? Please!” they squealed as they jumped on my bed, rumpling the blankets.

It had been two years since my daughters had experienced any snow. They had just moved back to the States from the Sunshine Coast of Australia, where they lived with their father for the past eighteen months. Our difficult divorce left the children leading an intercontinental life, spending half their time in the U.S. amongst the concrete high-rises and congested city life with their overworked, stressed, single mother, and half in the peaceful, luxurious Australian bush on a twenty-eight-acre resort property, complete with kangaroos, kookaburras, and goannas. There, they attended private country schools and lived a leisurely slow-paced life with their nurseryman father.

For a year and a half, I had tried creating a new life for my children in the U.S., but they never adjusted to having a nanny and missed the beauty and simplicity of their idyllic life Down Under. So I made the heart-wrenching decision, à la Sophie’s Choice, to part from my daughters and send them back to live with their father.

While they were away, I spent my hours writing songs with my electric keyboard in the middle of my sleepless nights; worked at multiple different surgery centers as a contracting anesthesiologist three months at a time; planned and financed a citywide health and wellness conference for women that would be held the next week—anything to fill my time, anything to keep me from thinking about how much I missed them.

Back home for only three weeks when the storm hit D.C., my girls were ecstatic about having a “snow day” and couldn’t wait to slide down the great hill on Massachusetts Avenue. Before I had completely parked the car, they were opening the doors, grabbing their sleds and running up the side of the hill. By the time I had reached the foot of the hill my elder daughter, Cedar, and two friends had already taken their first exhilarating sled ride down the icy, fast-paced hill. Nikki, however, was not so adventurous and remained tentative at the top of the hill, the three girls beckoning and calling loudly from below, encouraging her to take off now!

Suddenly, on her little orange saucer, she flew down the hill, holding on for dear life, spinning and zooming, smiling, laughing, and completely unaware of the massive oak tree in her path. I saw it all flash before my eyes—my baby girl about to collide with this immovable tree trunk—and my heart skipped a beat as I instinctively leapt in front of her rocketing sled. I just barely grabbed onto her down jacket, trying to pull her off the sled before the imminent crash. But the force and velocity of her on the sled was too great for me, and I went smashing into that tree with the sled and my little girl.

Thank God my body provided enough of a cushion for her and she bounced onto the snow without injury. But I heard a loud “crack” as we made impact, and felt an excruciating pain in my right ankle. Tears came pouring down my face as I lay on the snow, barely breathing, as pain swept through my battered body. The girls and several bystanders immediately rushed to my aid.

“Mama! Are you alright? You need ice!” my baby cried, as she piled snow on top of my rapidly swelling, throbbing ankle. Through her tears I could see the worry, fear, and guilt on her little cherubic rosy-cheeked face.

As I endured the pain and looked into those sad eyes, I couldn’t help but think, “What if I had stayed in the car for one instant longer? What if I hadn’t reached the tree in time? What if I had turned away as she raced down the hill? What if I was talking with another worried parent? What if I slipped on the snow before reaching her?” One thousand and one alternate scenarios flooded my brain.

One week later, in a Percocet haze, I was laying face up on my sofa, staring at the living room walls with my right leg elevated, post-surgical ankle fixed with several titanium screws and a fluorescent pink knee-high cast, immobilized, non-weight bearing, and alone. My citywide conference for women had been cancelled. My children had grown up tremendously, learning to cook, clean, do homework, and pawn rides from friend’s parents, and become Mama’s caretaker.

I, on the other hand, spent hours each day contemplating my life, wondering WHY this had happened to me.

It wasn’t enough I’d recently lost both my parents, divorced, moved back and forth between the U.S. and Australia, struggled finding steady employment, went through several nannies who thought my children were challenging, gone into debt, overburdened with medical bills, and had the expenses of raising two children on my own in an extremely high-cost area? Now I had to deal with this!

I was burning the candle at both ends. I wasn’t sleeping and nearly running on empty. Somehow, He knew this. I had plenty of warning signs and indications that I needed to slow down, take a breather, regroup and find stability again; but still I carried on. It took divine intervention to literally stop me in my tracks, and save not only my daughter’s life, but mine too.

In my months of disability that followed, I finally had the time to find me again, to absorb and process the events of the past several years, to take the time to grieve and feel my losses, and at last to create a plan for me, and for my girls’ future. Frightening and overwhelming as it seemed, I was thankful for this “break,” and no longer felt alone.

I wrote a song, which will appear on my next album, and talks about how thankful I am that God intervened and gave me the “necessary break” that allowed me to reorient my life and find the right path for myself and my girls.

THANKFUL

When I was younger I always thought there had to be something in it for me

Some kind of reward that I could hold to prove my worth to all the world.

It’s taken this long for me to believe in something I cannot touch or see

But now that I know, there’s no other way for me to make it through each day.

CHORUS

And so I’m THANKFUL that you’ve shown me

That Your love can be the answer to my mystery if I’d just let it be.

And I’m THANKFUL for this moment ’cause

Livin’ in the present when You’re here with me is all that I need.

I’m listening hard to all that You’re tryin to say to me in so many different ways

It’s not always clear, and thoughts in my head often confuse the words You’ve said.

I analyze and try to make sense of everything but all I really need to do

Is take time to breathe, accept how I feel and know that this feeling comes from You.

Repeat CHORUS

It’s not so easy to hear Your voice when I close the door

And think that my way’s the only choice

Then I realize that You have a plan

And I begin to understand

I can’t analyze and try to make sense of everything

’Cause all I really need to do

Is take time to breathe, accept how I feel

And know that this feeling comes from You.

Repeat CHORUS last time.

©2011 Shari Hall

~Dr. Shari Hall

More stories from our partners