Ambulances and American cars : Day 6

Dear Friend, 

Having known you for a while I know that you go through seasons where your confidence and self-belief wanes. It doesn’t matter what the objective evidence demonstrates – you don’t think you can do it. Whatever IT is.

But I want to take this chance to remind you of a few of the things you’ve made it through so far, so that on the bad days you remember who you are and what you are capable of doing.You’ve jumped out of planes and worked at all kinds of jobs and fronted up to some pretty big public occasions, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

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I want to talk about the core, deep down, flint-y bits of living that you’ve done.

I want you to remember the strength you’ve shown. 

There are a few times in your life I could remind you about. The summer of head surgery when you were 17. The new baby years, and then the new baby and toddler years! The years of caring for a very sick child when you didn’t leave the house for days at a time.

But I’ve got a favourite. Not because it was good – at the time it was awful – but it’s my favourite because of what I learned about you then. I learned what you are capable of doing when you have to, and after that day I really think you should believe that you can do anything.

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You were at the Grand Canyon, Arizona. 

I

You’d arrived in Las Vegas 48 hours before after 20 hours of travelling from the UK with an 8 year old, a 6 year old ( who was hideously travel sick) and a 6 month old baby. It was Day 3 of a 28 day family road trip covering 3000 miles across the U.S. You were jet lagged and weary.

You’d spent the day being awed by the magnificence of the Canyon but as the day went on, you and your husband realised that your 6 year old was coughing a lot. Towards evening you realised that her usually dormant asthma was causing her breathing difficulties at altitude.

At 10pm you asked the hotel receptionist how close the nearest doctor was and the answer was ’70 miles away but we have paramedics’.

II

At 10.30pm you put an emergency call through to the paramedics and 5 minutes later the hotel room was full as 3 paramedics and 2 firemen rushed in with breathing apparatus. Within five minutes your oxygen starved precious girl was in an ambulance with her daddy, being evacuated to a hospital 70 miles away. You were left in the room with two sleeping children, and your heart in your mouth.

You wanted to go with her but because you were breastfeeding your baby they wouldn’t let you so your husband had gone instead.

You cried and phoned family in the UK; you sent texts to friends to ask them to pray and finally at 2.30am you got the call you were waiting for from your husband.  The journey and the midway ambulance transfer had gone ok, and your precious girl was breathing without help and her condition was improving. 

III

Somehow you slept for an hour or two, but woke at 5am to start packing up 5 people’s belongings. You answered the surprised questions of the 8 year old, who had slept through everything, fed the baby, got breakfast and loaded up a luggage trolley which you pushed into the car park whilst the 8 year old carried the baby. The car was loaded and then you did the next brave thing. 

You had never driven a left hand drive car. Nor had you ever driven an automatic. And this wasn’t just a car. It was an American car. It was a tank. Even though you’d booked the smallest family car it still had an aisle between the back rows. You could walk along it selling duty free if that had been a service option. 

You needed to learn how to drive an automatic, left hand drive tank pretty quickly because you had a daughter in a hospital a long way away and you needed to get to her.

It was sunrise so there were a few tourists outside preparing to view sunrise over the Canyon. You asked a man passing if he’d show you how to drive the car. You didn’t even know how to turn on the engine. He looked a bit unsure about your request and who could blame him, but he climbed in and gave you a lesson. You thanked him and drove to the hospital following the directions on the photocopied map the paramedics had left with you the night before.

You sang to keep the baby happy and you responded to the endless chit chat of the quite excited 8 year old (because to an 8 year old this was all part of the adventure). 

IV

You got to the hospital.

V

You did things you didn’t know you could do.

Your sleep deprived, jet lagged, worried out of your mind, totally distressed self did all that was needed. 

And your husband – he did all that was needed of him too in that total role reversal. He stayed by the bedside and took the medical decisions and cared for your daughter in that foreign environment. 

So here’s what I want you to remember

You CAN Do it.

And so can he.

And you’re doing it together. 

until tomorrow

xxxxxx

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16 Comments

  1. Okay, I’m a silly. I just noticed the title of your 31 days and realized you are writing to your future self and not your grown daughter. Oops! It’s early here and I haven’t had caffeine yet.
    I’m sure your daughter is very brave too (just like her momma). But I meant to say that you are very brave.
    What a great idea to write letters to your future self! I love it! It will be wonderful for you and your children to read together later. Nice to “meet” you!

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  2. I’m writing on Living Brave this month, and this whole story just speaks to me, because sometimes in life we’re called to be impossibly brave. And you stepped up to the challenge. What a beautifully written story, and I’m so glad it had a happy ending.

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  3. Oh the things we don’t even realize we are capable of. I struggle with believing I can do a lot, too, but looking back on what I’ve already done really does help. I’m so glad your daughter was ok!

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    1. I think we are all capable of ( and frequently do) amazing things ! We just don’t notice or we disregard the strength or resilience or courage we’re showing each day. I hope that looking back keeps helping you as you move forward. And thank you for being glad about my daughter ! We were pretty relieved too 😉

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  4. I love the idea of writing letters to your future self!

    What a story – how brave you all were. As a mother, I got a lump in my throat for you reading this story. How awesome that you were able to do all you needed to do. We always get that extra measure of grace to handle scary situations, and you rocked it!

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  5. Oh my gosh, I can’t imagine how scary that situation was. I think the car might have done me in lol. Its amazing what strength we can pull out when we need to!

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    1. Hi – good to see you here 🙂 I’ve not written like this before, but it’s proving to be an interesting ( and I hope valuable) thing to do. We so often think about what we want to pass on to others, but not what we want to make sure we remember!

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  6. I understand the daunting experience of the left hand automatic and the American roads. When we first arrived to live there I thought I would never be able to do it. Three years later I missed it when I left. Glad you were able to cope and yes we can do things when we have to so it should encourage us for the future – whatever it holds.

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