on living through a close call

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My life has been a series of close calls.

Late one Fourth of July night back in college, a friend, my sister, and I were driving home from a day at the lake. The truck ran off a slick country road, hit a tree, and bounced. My baby sister and I weren't wearing seat belts, and as I realized we were out of control, a thought - from God - ran through my head. "It's just like 'crack the egg.'" In one motion I curled into a ball and pulled my sister down with me, and we pinged inside the cab like kids playing a game on a trampoline. When the truck stopped, we were lying on the roof. A potentially fatal accident, and the three of us rolled down the window, climbed out, and stared at the truck, amazed. In fact, rather than hospitals or worse, that accident was the catalyst to a love story. Sixteen years later, that friend is asleep in my bed right now.

Another? My life began the way millions do: with a divorce, a single mother, and long hours away. My mom was young when she had me, and her marriage dissolved shortly after I was born. She worked during the day and went to school at night. I spent most of my time with sitters and grandparents. Then she met a man, fell in love, and remarried when I was four. 

I have met many women for whom their nightmare began at that point. I'm certain you have (or maybe you've lived that story) too. But for me, my mom married the kindest, most patient, most humble man I've ever known. He wanted to be a father, and from their first date, he thought of me as his child. She married a man I am honored to call my dad, who later adopted me at my request. My childhood had all the same ingredients as countless women who have lived through hell. Yet, I got to live happily ever after.

I dodged a bullet. Again.

The same has been true in my married life. We're risk takers. We're not afraid of a new job with less pay and more adventure. Though children have changed our perspective to some degree (insurance matters when you have four kids), in our early years, especially, we took chances our friends would have declined. We've had debt and no debt, savings and no savings - yet we have always landed on our feet. Is that luck? Wisdom? Grace? It's some combination of all of it, I believe. But whatever the reason, things always seem to work out for my family.

Close calls. They seem to mark my life.

Now it has happened again. Recently my family had a very, very close call. While I'm not ready to share the story with the online world, it is impossible for me to continue writing as though nothing happened. This one was real. We banged into death, blunt and brutal, then watched God give us a resurrection instead of a funeral. We very nearly walked down an unimaginable road this summer. Instead, as a family we are uncurling, rolling down the window, and climbing out in amazement.

But close calls change you. They shape the way you see the world, and they dictate what will matter moving forward. I am profoundly grateful for another chance to shake my head in disbelief, but I am not the person I was before that moment happened. As I slowly return to the things I love, the things that fill my life, I do them all as a different person. I do them as someone who felt the blunt edges of death, who witnessed a miracle, and who can still taste the sharp relief of another close call. 


  1. Hi Stephanie, I enjoy your work and have followed you for a while. Your perspective is authentic and grounded and it keeps me centered. I got up this morning at 5:30am to write while the kids were sleeping and was enjoying your post on the elusive nap time and coffee shop writing escapes when the post disappeared? Not sure what happened but I enjoyed this one as well. You are very talented. Keep writing.

    1. Thank you Brenda! I'm not sure why a post disappeared either. Thank you for reading!



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