I don’t know where to begin. The days have slipped together to form one experience with no particular awareness of normal time. This week was the kind that you read about or hear about and feel sadness for but never expect it to happen to you. Everything was moving along in its crazy Greek way until it all came tumbling down…
My parents had just left to take Heidi to a dentist appointment in another part of Athens. About an hour later I was about to post a picture to Instagram when I saw five direct messages from Jackson’s best friend Mitchell. They all said the exact same thing: “LYDIA. There’s been an emergency. Call me or have one of your parents call me immediately.” It had been sent hours earlier but we had been out all day and I didn’t see it until then.
I couldn’t call him because our phone service was turned off so I used FaceTime instead. I went to the balcony so my sisters wouldn’t freak out. Mitchell sat there calmly and told me that Jackson and he were driving through Colorado when the car flipped six times. Mitchell was on the makeshift bed in the back and came out unhurt but Jackson was life flighted to the hospital. He kept saying he was ok, but all I could think was, “My brother was in a car accident. The van flipped over SIX TIMES. He’s in ICU. Colorado.” I thanked Mitchell and told him I’d call my parents immediately.
They didn’t answer so I decided not to call again because for all I knew they couldn’t just leave in the middle of Heidi’s appointment anyway. They called back an hour or so later and I told them there had been an emergency and to come straight home.
We got hardly any sleep that night. Mom and Dad went back and forth on whether to stay or leave. We knew someone had to go but all of us? The only reason we hesitated was because Mitchell made it sound like it wasn’t that bad at all. After that horrible, restless night Mom was on a plane to Colorado by six the next morning. The rest of us stayed behind to settle some loose ends in Greece before coming back.
I’ve never felt so helpless before. My Dads good friend flew out to be with Jackson and he gave us a much more detailed and terrifying update than Mitchell had. Actually, quite a few people were there with Jackson: Mitchell and his mom, our family on Dads side, Mr. Purifoy, The Demoss family who live in Colorado, and Rose Reid (a close friend of ours). But as thankful as I was for them I was just upset that it wasn’t me at his side or mom and dad.
That night we couldn’t sleep again partially because of stress, partially because it was Easter week in Greece and that’s their biggest holiday. The bells at the church on the end of our street were tolling constantly and every once in a while a deafening noise would ring out from the harmless explosives they throw at Eastertime. Around nine we walked down to the church, jumping occasionally from the earsplitting sound of the quick lighting charcoal being thrown on the ground.
At the church, a long procession of people began to wind through the streets following the priests and an icon. Everyone was carrying candles and someone was chanting the story of Christ’s death in Greek. The procession ended up back at the church and the crowds slowly went inside to take communion. I’m glad we didn’t miss Good Friday in Greece but I had been looking forward to being there for Easter.
It didn’t hit me until we were on the plane the next morning how much I would miss Greece and how little I missed America. We were supposed to go to a monastery called Meteora. It’s gorgeous, look it up. We were supposed to serve refugees, supposed to wake up on many more Wednesdays and buy fruit and vegetables from the fresh market. We were supposed to go back up the Acropolis to the Parthenon. We were supposed to struggle to learn Greek and get used to hearing it around us. We were supposed to explore more. We were supposed to stay.
The hard part is it LOOKED like this was God’s plan for us this year. The opportunity to work with SGI came out of nowhere and seemed so perfect for us. My Dad’s business did really well and we had money to go back though we never could have anticipated that. The opportunity to go intensively study Greek in the country we had fallen in love with was such a blessing. Friends and family were going to visit us over there this time. It all fell into place and we really thought that was what God wanted us to do this year.
But then God reminded me how much he was looking out for us. The lady in Greece moved us up from coach to economy because “their son was in a car accident and they need to sit together.” The old British man who was our steward kept bringing us extra candy and drinks because he said if his kids were in the same situation he’d want them to be treated this way. The messages flooded in: “we’re praying for you guys. Hope he gets better soon. We love you. Let us know what we can do to help.” They even set up a GoFundMe to help raise money for flights and hospital bills.
That’s when I began to realize that God was going to use this to change us all and make us stronger. I don’t see it right now, but I know that God is holding us and watching us struggle and he is answering every prayer spoken for Jackson.
We arrived in America twenty hours later and exhausted but happy to be so near our brother. It’s hard to see him laying there in a hospital bed. He’s so young, so strong. This isn’t natural. And yet over the next few days, he has made such great strides towards recovery, especially considering it’s a miracle he’s living.
Still getting so much love and support which I’m so thankful for and Rose Reid and Sienna DeMoss have been with us up until now and I have been so grateful for their company. We spend our days between the hotel and the hospital waiting room.
Jackson occasionally says funny things in his delirium. He begs for coffee, he doesn’t have a filter. He had surgery a few days ago. There are now twelve screws and two metal plates in his left arm.
We went to see the van yesterday. Looking at the crushed driver’s side powerfully reminded me how much God has a plan for Jackson. I salvaged a few odds and ends and we took some pictures of it. All of our bumper stickers that we collected over the years from road trips and travel are left there in a junkyard with our poor blue van. She lived a long, adventurous life though and definitely went out with a bang.
Jackson remembers us and is very responsive though still foggy. The memories are coming back and beginning to overwhelm him but at least they’re there. All in all nothing matters but the fact that my only brother is alive and recovering. He always said that if I was in need of some adventure he’d be there to give it to me, so thank you, Jackson, for sticking around for more adventures.
Thank you to everyone who has been praying and supporting us. Nothing is more felt or appreciated. God knows what He has for us and though we don’t know what it is I’m sure we couldn’t get there without this experience.