On going to bed mad & the root of the matter.

Feb 15th

February 8, 2001 was the first time my husband and I went to bed mad.

Are you wondering what the HECK kind of record keeper I am?

We had been given the age-old marriage advice, “never go to bed mad” and having been married nearly 2 years, this was the first time I laid my head on a pillow in silent treatment furor and thought, are we really doing this? they say not to do this… but we are. 

Morning came, and Brian was awake early to take his dad to the airport. He left silently before I knew any different.

My alarm went off and I was soon showering to get ready for work. The phone was ringing but I didn’t hear. It rang again as I was toweling off. I answered and it was Brian.

“Hey.”
“Hi.”
“Umm. Did I leave my wallet on my nightstand?”
I looked across the room. “Yes, it’s here.”
“Okay. umm… I need you to bring it to me… I was in an accident and the police need my license.”
(silence)
He was talking to me so I assumed all was well, but I wondered out loud… “Are… the other people okay?”
(silence)
“I don’t know… I really hope so.” The way he said it was most compassionate.

He doesn’t KNOW? Did he not exchange insurance information and look the cars over? … My brain went to near mush. There were others. He doesn’t know how they are. Wallet. Dry yourself. Hair Gel. Brush Teeth. Clothes on. GO. The whole drive there was shaky and surreal, like when you end up somewhere but you forget how.

He told me he was with a police officer to the side of the road at the bottom of the north side of the bridge. I needed to get it right because these were the days before cell phones. ”You’ll see me” he said. Okay. I was going to look for a police officer. He was probably getting a ticket, or completing a report…my thoughts were stuck on the fact that he said he didn’t know if the others were okay.

I noticed there weren’t many cars coming over from the north side of the bridge. I crested the top of the bridge just after sunrise and nearly lost all feeling in my limbs when I saw what was before me. I was prepared to look for a police officer off to the right side of the road chatting it up with my husband. What I saw instead was a sea of mostly red & white and some blue lights.

I slowed down. I began to physically shake and I gripped the steering wheel tighter for leverage and control.

My eyes scanned the scene, and I saw where a wreck had occurred. As I descended the bridge, my eyes caught a vehicle laying sideways just off road. The top was filleted open; something I had never seen before… and then I realized it was my father in laws vehicle. And I remembered that Brian was driving it that morning as he took him to the airport for an early flight.

I panicked.

I pulled onto the grassy median and coasted past the cars I had been following. I saw Brian standing there on the side of the road. I couldn’t feel my feet much less stand to walk, but I threw my car in park and somehow made my way to him, and he to me.

“I’m okay” he said, “I’m okay.”
The others?” I asked?
“Life Flight took them a while ago.” I studied the scene in front of us knowing nothing of how this had happened.

A fence was bent, a light down, a truck bent in a V shape, and his dads brand new SUV was literally a flip top can as the entire top was laying across the sidewalk, cut by the ‘Jaws’ used to remove Brian from the vehicle.

We just stood there on the sidewalk, watching as they turned the Explorer from its side to its tires, as the top flapped and the car bounced. With tiny shards of glass on his face, he asked me to take him home and help him get the glass out of his clothes and off of him.

He gave the officer his license, thanked them for the help and we began to walk away to my car. It was surreal. Was that it? Do we just turn and walk away from here?

“Ma’am…” I heard. I turned around.

A female officer was smiling from ear to ear. Wide eyed she said, “Ma’am, I’ve just got to tell ya, you should’ve seen your husband. He was sitting there sideways in the car all that time and there was this space all around him… it was like someone was holding him there in his seat.” Her hand was cupping the air as she described it to me.

I was partially appalled at her excitement, but also appreciative that she had just described a picture to me, so vivid, I would grasp hold of it for years to come. “Officer, I believe YOU saw the hand of God holding him this morning.” I am so thankful she called out to me on the sidewalk and described something that Brian could not.

What he did describe to me was the sound of the car crunching all around him like a can as he rolled, the helicopter landing nearby and later the car being cut open to release him. His glasses had fallen off his face and landed on the street. He could see them, but they were out of reach. When later retrieved, they were unscratched. Pretty incredible. He described the kindness and concern and efficiency of all of the emergency workers. And he told me he was sorry we went to bed mad. We went home and I took the glass out of his forehead, his eyebrows, his neck and waist where it had settled. I was amazed how a huge sheet of glass could just turn so fine and sliver-like.

I arrived at church where I was a receptionist, later that morning to work, and soon called my mom. She was audibly shaken as she described how our friend Todd, who worked with my mom, was on his way to work that morning and came upon the scene of a terrible accident. As he passed, he said he felt so much compassion for the man hanging in the vehicle and he could just pray for him. Then I told her that man was Brian.

When I hear emergency vehicles, I feel like I am being signaled to pray. Someone, somewhere is waiting on help. And in the meanwhile, before they arrive, I ask the Lord to be near to them as specifically as they stand in need of it, just like when He held Brian, suspended sideways in the vehicle as the others were attended to. When he recounts the story of the accident every once in a blue moon, you can hear the helplessness in his voice, but we were so thankful to know the other 2 passengers did recover from their injuries.

The year ahead was undoubtedly one of our most difficult, as he was in a great deal of physical pain and mental & emotional frustration over it. The beauty of that year though, had already been rolled into action as he was invited to participate in a book club of sorts with a group of men he looked up to and admired. He will tell you it was a foundational year in his walk with Christ and as a man and husband. And when the year ended, he was a new father, too.

We try not to go to bed mad anymore. It makes for a hard morning and mornings are hard enough as it is.
Paul tells us in Ephesians, ‘do not let the sun go down on your anger’. I love how the Jewish Bible instructs us to deal with the cause of our anger before the sun goes down. When I read that, I hear “get to the ROOT of it. and DEAL with THE ROOT”. When you do, you eliminate its ability to spring up again next week. And that just makes for a succession of better days, and nicer nights.