"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation.

You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
Dr. Adrian Rogers 1931-2005

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sometimes Things Happen

Sometimes things happen that change your lives. Sometimes it is your fault, other times it is the fault of weather, or others, or something unusual. None the less life happens, and as a result we must figure out how to live with these happenings.

I have had several emails asking me about a picture I posted a few weeks ago, sharing one of the photos from Bill's accident. Since I did not say what happened, and have not in many months or even year on this blog, I thought I would share what happened that placed us on the path that we are on, living a humble, simple life on the farm.

On January 1, 2005 until around 9 pm, I was a content wife of a law enforcement officer. Life was wonderful, we had great pay, great benefits, and I never thought about not being able to afford anything. As to medical and dental insurance, we had top of the line.

Bill had worked New Year's eve, as you can imagine, it is a busy night for law enforcement. Then he was called out early the next morn, getting only an hour or so sleep. He then worked the entire day, here and there, fielding calls. It had snowed that night and he was up in the mountains working although we lived on the southern end of the county. The kids and I spent New Year's with a bunch of teen age boys basically chaos of kids. Bill spent the night up north, as that was where the bars were. When he did end up taking that hour or so to sleep, he went to my brothers house to sleep. That is the life of a law enforcement family, long hours, which we worked around.

Bill called me around 5 pm or so and told me he was heading home. Around 7 pm he was not home, but I did not worry as things happen that cause delays. By 8 pm I had the younger three kids in bed as they were exhausted. My oldest was 15 and opted to stay up with me and get the house back in order. He was finishing dishes when a knock on the door startled us both. I opened the door and it was an older woman, the wife of a county commissioner who I knew, but did not really know. I had said hello to her, but had never had any real conversations. Anyhow, she just walked past me plopped herself on my couch, without saying anything to me. As Bill was the resident officer of the town, we were used to locals coming directly to the house to have their issues resolved. That is the way it is in small towns. So I offered her a glass of water and waited. She still would not speak, so I assumed it must have been a doozy of a fight she had with her husband and she was cooling off.

No problem I thought and sat down and watched television while she was quiet on my couch. About ten minutes after she had been on my couch, I started hearing sirens, and said something like, I pray that everyone is okay. She still said nothing. By fifteen minutes, I began hearing commotion outside. We lived in a little subdivision with about 20 houses, so this noise was very unusual, and then my life changed forever. The door once again startled me, but this time it was a hard pound, just one knock. As I walked slowly to the door, it was exactly like you see in the movies as everything was connected, I realized something happened to Bill. I looked at the woman, and slowly opened the door. It was a fellow officer of Bill. He was a young guy, barely 24, and very meticulous about his uniform, and how he looked. We used to joke about how perfect he was. Not on January 1. I looked at his shirt which was a plaid button up(not his uniform), one side tucked in, one side not and his uniform pants...with his hair a mess, and knew that Bill was dead. He had come to tell me the news, as most wives have scanners, as does everyone else in the community, he was sent to tell me before I heard from anyone else. This was probably the hardest thing to date for him in his short career thus far, as he grew up knowing Bill as small towns- everyone knows everyone else.

I immediately turned to the commissioners wife on the couch, as it dawned on me that she knew, and actually said "YOU KNEW." She later told me that those two words devastated her, but she came to be with my children once I was informed. How amazing was she? That is a small community. She did not know me any more than I knew her before this night. But she understood what needed to be done and did so, biting the inside of her mouth not telling me anything until I was officially informed. D, as I will call the young officer, had been told that Bill was not alive or was so bad off, because he believed that Bill was dead. I remember looking out my front door and seeing the street filled with cars, and tons of people talking and looking to my house. It was surreal and cloudy as much as clear to me. I immediately clicked into function mode, and told D no one comes in the house, and no one says anything to the children, as I was going to have D take me to my sweet husband of 16 1/2 years so I could say goodbye. It would be the least I could do, as I loved him with all my heart and soul. D told me no problem, and I saw my oldest peeking out from the kitchen and told him to wait a moment, I needed to tell him something. I then called my brother who lived 80 miles away, and said you need to come. I then took my oldest and went to the boys room and told the boys they needed to get up and awoke my daughter. I took them to the family room where the commissioners wife was and looked to her eyes and she understood...as I was going to lie to my children. I then sat them down on the floor and told them that dad had been in an accident and I was going to be with him....I said nothing else, except we were going to say a prayer for him. Even the commissioners wife knelt on the floor with us. I then ran to my bedroom and tossed on clothes and then hugged the kids and out I went. My oldest in all his amazingness, had ran to his room and grabbed about $ 100 in cash which he had been saving and placed in my hand as he hugged me. This would be important later on, as I did not even grab my purse as I left.

To fast forward this narrative, as we were heading to the scene, we hear frantic chatter, that begins calling for Flight for Life. It dawned on me that Bill was not dead as first suspected, and so I was taken to the high school football field to meet up with him while they waited for flight. Bill was a mess, blood all over, and he had no clue babbling incoherently. As I sat by Bill's head in shock I suppose, D stood near the end of the stretcher and looked to me, and then said "Bill, do you feel this?" and squeezed his toes really hard. Bill flinched, and D gave me a lopsided smile to let me know that perhaps Bill was not paralyzed.

Sometimes things happen, and then the next step is up to you. What will you do when bad stuff happens? Will you be able to move on? I confess that for five or six months of therapy and rehabilitation were hard on me, as I longed for the old, while slowly realizing that things were forever different. We then regrouped and made a game plan which took us to our farm and our lives here in New Mexico.

Those who serve to protect live lives somewhat separate from others as it is shift work and filled with things many people will never see nor understand a cops life. For us we had to reinvent who we were as all we had known was military and civilian law enforcement. It has taken five years of physical adjustment. I am thankful that my tomorrows have had Bill in them as is. Here is the inside of the patrol car. Bill's head usually touches the ceiling as he is so tall.

Another view of the patrol car.

His accident scene was nearly 1000 feet and the car rolled and rolled. The light bar was gone in the rolling and the rifle rack which was attached to the ceiling became a weapon that kept slamming Bill in his face, neck and shoulder. Eventually the rifle rack would go out the window swing back and split opened Bill's neck/face just beside his ear, then it too would break free of the patrol car.

Although Bill was in and out of consciousness, when he woke up he called in his own accident to almost the exact mile marker post. His call was heard by the commissioners wife and that is why she came over. She later told me that he sounded hollow. Before any first responders could show up, a truck driver saw the lights in the desert off the road and quickly called it in, and ran through the terrain to help. This truck driver was the sheriff's son.  I will always be grateful to those who put themselves in my Bill's and my life and acted without thinking, as in times of crises that is what is needed. Those not immediately impacted can be the calm of the storm.

So now you know that sometimes things happen and as a result of things happening, I live on my beautiful farm that faces a breathtaking view of the mountains. I must relay that it is perception much more than reality, but life is how we see things, more than how things really are.

Thank you God for January 1, 2005

*this is unedited as even five years later I cry a bit thinking about that night, I hope you understand.


Bustednuckles said...


The Big Guy Upstairs has a reason for us to be here, we never know what it is.
I know I should have been dead several times over and actually had an out of body experience on a table in an emergency room after a bad car wreck once.

I shed a few tears reading this.
I can relate.

Mrs.Rabe said...

Thank you for sharing this life changing story...I am so thankful for those who serve in this way and for those who are EMT's,Firemen, ambulance drivers...my dad serves with a volunteer fire company and he has stories to tell but thankfully not involving himself.

motherofmany said...

Thank you, Jen.

WomanWhoRunsWithHorses said...

Life's greatest trials are, well ...simply great trials when we're going through them. But when we GET through them, they become our testimonies. You and your lovely family are a wonderful testimony and I'm so glad you're in my life.

debbieo said...

Thank you for sharing your story. My own husband died when the two youngest were 2 1/2 and 10 months. Life does go on but its hard.
I am so glad you still have Bill. Wish I had my Charlie.

Kymber said...

Jen - thank you soo much for sharing these tragic memories - my heart breaks while reading this - and then at the same time - it swells!!! it swells with love and honour due to you and your family for surviving this!!! and to Bill for serving! please thank him for his service - it is heroic men like Bill that protect us and keep us safe!!

wow! what an incredible story. one that you must write in great detail and get published - it is only through the heroic efforts of others that we as a society can learn from. heroic efforts of Bill - and super heroic efforts of you!

i already said thank you for sharing this. but i mean it and i mean it sincerely.

"sometimes things happen that change your lives". yes - sometimes things happen. i have learned so much from your sharing of this story - i am incredibly amazed at your strength, Bill's strength and your family's strength!

i cannot even begin to imagine what you suffered when you thought your beloved was gone. i cannot imagine how you pulled yourself together for the sake of Bill and your children.

however - i have seen pics of your beautiful farm...i thank God that you all came out of this and turned it into something of positivity and purpose - something good!

Jen - i have learned the lesson of this post. thank you so much for sharing. i cried reading it - but by the end of your story i was crying tears of happiness, friendship and joy!!!

i don't know what else to say. except thank you. for reminding us that sometimes tragedy can be a miracle. and for reminding us to never take anything wonderful for granted. and for reminding us that we can always pick ourselves back up and become even better and more heroic after a fall.

you are one of the most fortunate people i know (outside of myself - as i am an incredibly fortunate and grateful person). i am sooo glad to have the opportunity to learn from such an experienced and wise person!

thank you Jen! and thank you Bill - thank you both for being such an example to follow!

Memories for a Lifetime said...

Oh, Jen, I can feek the pain but the grace of God in this post!!

God brings beauty from ashes.

Often those life changing moments are our utmost fire that creates the change to glorify God.

Praise God for the people he chose to help you through this growing time....I am sure you will never know the impact your lives had on them either, until eternity!!

Thanks for sharing this portion of your heart!!

{{{{{HUGS}}}}} to you!!

Jason Welin said...

You had told me a little about this event before, but it was very eye-opening to read the full story. I hope if anything ever happens to me on duty, that Tobi (and I) deal with it as well as you and Bill.

Diane said...

Thank you so much for sharing this personal story with us readers. I am so happy that you still have your husband and your children have their father. What a wonderful new life you lead with your husband being a Pastor, all because of one moment in time that changed your families life.

Humble wife said...

Busted Knuckles- we never know what is in store for us...that is for sure. Scary the accidents that you have had!

Mrs Rabe- oh yes our first responders are an amazing group! I am happy to hear that your dad is a volunteer fireman!!

Mother of Many- I know it is a lot to ponder.

My Kymber- my friendship with you has been such a blessing, and I am glad that you too understand this post. I had to write it and I knew it would be hard to read but thank you for your kind words. I know that you too are one strong courageous woman!!

Roxie- right back at you with hugs too!

Oh Debbie, I am so so sorry for you loss and I wish I could visit with you in real life. I know how very hard your loss must have been and my prayers are with you and your children.

Memories- thank you...The Grace of God is exactly right and thank you for putting those words down as that is exactly what it has been like!

Jason, wab- I am most certain that you will be as we have been. It is not easy but we must go on:)

Diane- all because something happened is for sure. What a wonderful path we are on today!!

Thank you all so much for your ind words and thoughts it means more than you will ever imagine!

Pam said...

Jen while I knew about the accident and some of it's ramifications, I never have read such a detailed account of it. I know it must be difficult to speak about, but thanks for sharing it. These difficult storms certainly make us into the person we are today. God bless.

Connie said...

You are truly, truly blessed by our Lord, sweetpea. I know the things we can survive make us stronger, but that is an amazing story. Sheees, I just put on makeup and it's rolling off with the tears!!! ;-)

Anyway, 2009 wasn't exactly a great year for us but we survived it as well. Go here to read about one:


Go here to read about the next one a month later:


But with much prayer we've gotten though our trial - or two of them - and are moving on as you did.

My heart just about burst as I read your post but you truly sound like one amazing woman, chickee! It's very nice meeting you and to have read of your hubby's amazing recovery. Bless your heart,

xoxoxoxo to you, hubby and that son that is fighting for my freedom.


debbieo said...

I read this the first time almost 2 years ago and left a comment. I read it again tonight and bawled my eyes out. I was sobbing so hard I could hardly tell my husband what was wrong. I am so thankful you still have Bill even if you have to live a frugal life. Thanks for the reminder of what is important.

Humble wife said...

Oh Debbie-I confess when I saw your comment when I wrote this post I cried and cried and cried. Not for me, but for you, as it is still hard to process why one lives and another dies.

I reread this post once again tonight, and it makes me sob inside a good deal. It is as if my life is back in 2005, especially with Bill recovering from his surgery which is a follow up to this accident.

I can only say now, that I do know all things work together for good to them that love God to them who are called to His purpose Romans 8:28.

Do we understand things always, even knowing the scripture from Romans? Of course not, as we are not God, but man.

I am still so sorry for your loss and that my sharing reminds you.