This was written four years ago while watching the sun rise from a hospital room. I do apologize for the length, but read it all, please. Thank you.
One Hundred. What is it? Is it just a number? Is it different than any other number? I mean, one hundred dollars really won’t set you up for life financially. Most people have more than one hundred friends on Facebook. Some people can hold their breath for more than one hundred seconds. Most movies are longer than one hundred minutes. So why is one hundred different? Let me tell you about a very special one hundred.
This story begins as a tale of two people. Although not related by birth, they had formed a special bond as “step-sisters,” and this is where our story begins. Skylar and Lauren had one of those love/hate relationships that was really all love – it was just too much fun to pick on each other. One would play jokes on the other, and the other would respond with a friendly insult or two. They grew so close that they referred to themselves as “sisters for life.”
On Friday, October 7, 2011 the story takes a turn, and this is really where the story begins. Skylar was taking Lauren to her car so they could both go to their respective jobs. This was probably something that they had done more times than they could count. It was just another day doing another thing that didn’t seem any different than any other day. They probably made plans for that night after work, or the next day, or even next week. I can guarantee that what happened instead was NOT in either one of their plans. It wasn’t in their friends, family, or community plans either. But sometimes things happen we don’t plan for or want to happen, and those things can turn your world upside down. This did.
Without giving the details (because they really don’t matter), there was a horrific accident. In that single vehicle accident were two very special people – Lauren and Skylar. Both Lauren and Skylar were ejected from the vehicle by the force of the accident. In the aftermath of the accident, two things were immediately clear. First, all of the plans they made were suddenly changed. Secondly, there were two very seemingly different outcomes of the “SFL.”
It seems that Skylar was killed instantly by the impact, and somehow Lauren’s life was spared. Why? I can’t understand the reason behind it. But I can explain what happens next. The normal accident things happen. Police and medical experts were called to the scene, and they probably responded and did their jobs like they do every day, repeating duties that they could repeat in their sleep. They were living their lives not knowing that they were witnessing the very beginning of something that can only be described as a miracle. I’m sure that there are aspects and things about this story that I don’t know. I’m just telling you my version and what I know.
So I’m eating a late lunch on Friday at 2 PM. My phone rings, and I receive the news of a wreck, and there are no details. I start praying because that’s all I know I can do. A few minutes later, I get another call and hear that Lauren is being transported by Med Flight. I work less than 10 minutes from the hospital – so I leave work, assuming we are headed to the same place. On the way I am praying because all I know is that there has been a wreck, and my daughter is in serious condition. I am in baby panic mode. I just need to see her and know how she is.
I arrive at the hospital, go to the emergency room, and inquire about Lauren. Of course I have to wait a few minutes. After what seemed like hours, they send someone out to get me, and they take me back to another mini waiting room. It’s just the nurse and I. She sits down, and I fear the worse. She informs me that Lauren in getting a CAT scan and that Lauren has multiple serious injuries, but that she is responsive. Another seemingly forever goes by and they come and get me to take me to Lauren. We meet in the hall coming from different directions. I will never forget the sight of Lauren when I first saw her. Daddies should never have to see their daughters like that. I go to her, touch the bottom of her foot – at this time the only area I figure is not hurt — and gently say, “Hey Lauren.” To my surprise, she looks over, sees me and replies, “Hey, Dad.” I ask her how she feels and how is she doing. Her reply is “I’m just chilling.”
“Just chilling?” Seriously? Does she know she’s been in a serious accident and ejected from the vehicle with injuries serious enough to require med flight? Does she know she is lying in an emergency room? Yep, she does. As the onslaught of doctors, tests, and activities ensues, one thing becomes very clear. Lauren has been blessed. I can’t explain why. I have more questions than answers. I’m hurting. In one way, I am so relieved, but at the same time in mourning for her best friend.
As the doctors and the results start pouring in, I am in shock. Lauren, who is “just chilling” has injuries that are unbelievable. She has a fractured skull, broken ribs – three of them — a broken collarbone, and a broken pelvic bone. Her liver has small tears, and she is bleeding internally, She has a bruised kidney and bruised lung. A small section of her lung has collapsed, her eye is nearly swollen shut, and she has more scrapes and bruises than I can count. But then other results follow the initial report. EVERY injury that she has IS serious, but in some way it is “ideal.” For instance, you really don’t want a fractured skull. But if you HAVE to have one, you want one like Lauren has that is very small and can vent pressure as needed so to reduce the chances of surgery. The list and examples go on and on. The injuries – all of them – are serious injuries, but they have happened in such a way that they are the “best case scenario” for that particular type of injury. More results continue to come back and they are the same. It is serious. Many of her injuries could turn bad very quickly and require surgery, but right now, the doctors want to wait, see what happens, and do more tests. They inform me that about five or six hours after being admitted to the hospital, they are moving Lauren to the surgical intensive care unit. She’s no longer a trauma case, but she needs to be monitored very closely so she can be whisked away at a moment’s notice to the operating room if that is needed.
I have to leave my daughter’s side, knowing I won’t be able to see her for hours – and then only for a few minutes at a time. I’m hurting emotionally, and she’s hurting mostly physically, and we are forced to say our goodbyes. She tells me, “Dad, I’m gonna be OK – I’m a fighter.” I walk out into the waiting area and am shocked by the outpouring of love and support from friends, family, classmates, and community. It appears as if we are having a revolt in the hospital. We have taken over the place there are so many people there. We have our first visitation hours in ICU, and I go see Lauren. She already seems to look better. I tell her that there are tons of people outside that want to see her, and she says that she wants to see as many as possible. The nurses and staff are wonderful – they allow us some extra time to allow many friends and family to see her.
After countless visitors, it is time to do and witness one of the toughest things I’ve ever seen. After hours of her asking, Lauren is informed by Skylar’s Dad that Skylar did not make it. It wasn’t fun to see, and I can’t imagine what he felt when he had to tell Lauren. She takes the news in typical Lauren fashion. After a few tears, she starts making us laugh as she tells us of things that the two sisters for life had discussed.
I have a conversation with the doctor, and he gives me an update on Lauren. They are still very worried about the injury to her head and liver, but if everything continues as it has been, there is a possibility that Lauren may not have to have any surgery. None. This is almost unexplainable with her injuries. By Saturday morning, this is confirmed by the various specialists treating Lauren. She will make a full recovery, and I prepare for an extended stay at the hospital. As expected, the next few days are a blur: visits with friends and family, short visits with Lauren, and coordinating as many people seeing Lauren as possible because that is what Lauren wants. By lunchtime on Saturday, it becomes official – unless something drastic changes, Lauren should be able to heal completely without any surgery.
Every time I see Lauren over the next couple of visits, she shocks me. The rate at which she is healing is unexplainable – a word I have used a lot this week. By Sunday morning – IN THE ICU – I am told that Lauren will be moved to a normal room AND should be able to attend her best friend’s funeral. I am so thankful but absolutely shocked. Of course, the word spreads quickly, and Sunday is a flurry. Flowers, balloons, cards, pictures, friends, and family come pouring in – but just right so it doesn’t overwhelm Lauren.
On Monday as we are prepping to take Lauren on a very difficult trip, the doctor comes in, and we discuss the details. He gives me very direct and precise directions. I ask the doctor if there is a “curfew” or time she needs to be back. He looks at me and says, “I don’t know that she has to come back.” WHAT? Are you freaking kidding me? Unexplainable. We decide (actually Lauren decided) that it would be best to return to the hospital after the funeral for the night and leave the next day, so that’s our plan.
We take Lauren and she does great. Keep in mind, she has only walked to the bathroom from her bed – a distance of about ten feet – since being in the hospital. That is amazing in itself. She gets to the funeral and decides she is walking with her family, and she doesn’t need the wheelchair. And she does it. She walks in and out of the church and to the car unassisted (but with a very nervous dad watching very closely). Unexplainable.
By Tuesday morning I’m sitting here typing this as I’m watching my last sunrise from this room. I’ve had many conversations in the past couple of days and have seen many things that I don’t understand and can’t explain. They are truly unexplainable. Although this has been lengthy, it doesn’t even begin to include everything. It would take too much time but I can tell you this: I have seen multiple miracles in the past few days.
One hundred. What is it? It’s just a number. Why is this one hundred different than any other one hundred? Because God was in TOTAL control, and I saw how He can orchestrate the universe and use tragedy for His good. It’s something I have heard about over and over again, but when you see it, it is unexplainable. Everything that has happened since Friday afternoon has taken less than 100 hours. The effects of the past 100 hours reach much further than my family and my daughter’s friends. Their story has literally spread all around the world thanks to prayer chains and the internet, and the message it shares should not be taken lightly.
One hundred hours ago my daughter and her best friend were acting like they would on any other day. Since then, there has been tragedy, triumph, victory, and miracles beyond belief. One earthly body was lost while the other was protected from serious injury and injected with healing power that does not come from this world. As one wise man has said more than once – “I can’t prove it, but you can’t prove me wrong, either.” Lauren has endured more pain and suffering than I have ever endured while cheering those who come to comfort her. I have heard more laughter than tears.
In the past 100 hours, my daughter has healed at rates that are unexplainable. Medicine and science can’t explain it. Yes, God has given individuals the knowledge and skills need to test and treat the broken, and I really appreciate that. But in the big picture, the doctors have only run some tests and prescribed medicine. That is very important and I’m thankful, but THE doctor has done the healing. It can’t be explained any other way.
In the past 100 hours, I have seen relationships instantly healed where there has been years of bitterness. In the past 100 hours, I have seen a community realize that this world is not the prize and that this afternoon is not guaranteed. In the past 100 hours, I have seen the most perfect funeral where at least twenty people have made a decision to follow Christ and search for the real prize. I have seen how we are to take what this world gives us – imperfect and painful – and filter it through God and reflect His Glory.
In the past 100 hours, I have felt the comforting effect of prayer more than I have at any time in my life. I know this situation has been soaked in prayer, and it shows. Yes, we will miss Skylar Ann Mays, and that hurts. But Skylar lives on. Her legacy and story continue. It has made eternal changes, and she’s up dancing and singing with God and rejoicing with us that we are here to share her story.
In the past 100 hours, I have been changed. We should all have been changed by what we have seen. That’s what Skylar would want. Her leaving this world for the next is painful, but in the end, it has brought healing, reconciliation, and more miracles than I can count, and it all reflects the awesome power of God.
Please don’t let your next 100 hours be like your last 100 hours.
Trust me, one hundred – it’s much more than a number.