It was 3 days before Christmas 1988. We had just moved to San Diego where my husband John was stationed at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot – in the band. We had found a 1 bedroom apartment, had our stuff delivered from the move cross country from Norfolk, VA, and had found me a doctor to go to – I was 7 months pregnant with our first child. As we sat talking before he left for the base, I decided I was going to stay home instead of going to pick up my prenatal meds, because I was not feeling well. We were watching the pictures just emerging from the Lockerby Pan Am crash in Scotland. We hugged and he left for work.
Forty-five minutes later, the band unit called on base to ask where John was, as he had not yet arrived. I told them when he left and that maybe he had had car trouble and could not get to a phone yet – this was prior to cell phones. I would let them know if I heard anything. I prayed a quick prayer for safety for John. I went and got dressed for the day. Half an hour later, another call from the base – still no word and no John yet. I told them I had still not heard from him. When I hung up, I lied on my bed and cried and asked the Lord to please let me know where he was and if he was ok. I was very, very, very worried.
The phone rang and I got up quickly to answer it. The woman on the other end mentioned that she was from UCSD Medical Center and that my husband had been in a terrible accident. He was alive but had severe injuries. I had her repeat where to go as I had just moved here and had no idea where I was going. I hung up and called the band at the base, telling them what I knew and that I needed a ride because John had been driving the only car we had. Ten minutes later I was picked up at the front door and we hurried to the hospital. There I was talked to by the doctors. They explained that the accident had broken his hip, ripped his diaphragm, and torn his aorta. He was headed into a very long surgery.
I called my Mom and John’s parents. They got a flight out for the next day to come to San Diego. The church there helped with the cost as it was a huge bill so close to Christmas. The members of the band did not think it was a good idea for me to stay alone in the apartment that night, so I picked up clothes from the apartment and stayed with a family from the band. Around midnight the phone rung and the doctors explained that John had come through the 10 hour surgery and was doing well – sedated to keep the heart calm so the Dacron tube in his aorta would heal. He could wiggle his toes – no paralysis. He had a pin in his femoral neck to hold the ball joint to the femur bone. He was resting in the Trauma Unit there and I could see him in the morning. I was thankful. The baby hadn’t moved all day, though, and that worried me. Lots of prayer going on from back home in MI and from our new church in San Diego where we had only attended twice.
The next morning I awoke and was given a ride to the airport to pick up my Mom and In-laws. Lots of fears about what we would see and how John really was, as we rode back to the hospital. We arrived and it was decided that his parents would go in to see him first as it was their son. They emerged a few minutes later, saying he was demanding to see me, because he couldn’t remember if I had been in the car with him or not. He needed to see me to be sure. When I saw him, he was twice his normal size and unrecognisable. When he saw me tears rolled out of his eyes because He now knew I was ok. The baby within me moved for the first time in 36 hours – we were all going to be ok.
There were visits from the band and the church. Many prayed with me and for us. Then Christmas Eve, my Mom, In-Laws, and I went to the service at our new church, where the pastor shared our story and our need of a vehicle while family was in town as we had no vehicle to get to the hospital and back. Someone volunteered right away and I was amazed at God’s care for me and the generosity of someone I hardly knew.
Next day was Christmas. We opened gifts and headed to the hospital to see how John was today. Staff there said that he was going to be transferred to the ICU the next day – a really good sign. A few days after that he was transferred over to Balboa Naval Hospital where the military received care in the region. He was stabilizing and healing well. I went to the doctor for a second check-up for my pregnancy and told the doctor all that had taken place over the last week. He was amazed that I was doing so well, checked on the baby and told me to keep him posted. The parents left to go back to Michigan. Life had changed for all of us. Our little family held firmly in His capable hands.
I know this was long, but I needed to share this story because this year marks 27 years since our little family’s world was shaken by an almost tragedy. God has used it to show His might and power in saving. I did not ride with John to work that day, the baby was safe, John lived through a torn aorta – this VERY RARELY happens. Far away from home, husband almost killed, 7 months pregnant. God was my lifeline, my strength, my hope, my protector, John’s healer, our provider – of cars and money and community. I got rides from church and band members to shop at the grocery store and to come home from the hospital each night. His hand of care and protection remained steady.
John was in the hospital, from accident to walking out on crutches, a full sixty days. He received hugs from my baby doctor at my next prenatal visit and then from the church and band members. Almost a week overdue, I had our baby girl, Kari Elizabeth Robinson, on March 1st, 1989. She was beautiful!
We had all been through so much in 75 days. But we were alive and God’s faithfulness to us was beyond description. Christmas is a time of year that causes me to pause and remember that Christmas almost 3 decades ago – praising Jesus for all of it.
He is good.
He is faithful.
Merry CHRISTmas to you all!
What stories of God’s faithfulnesses in Christmas’ past do you have to tell? I would so love to hear them.