It was a cold December night when I realized my son was late arriving. Normally, he would have contacted me if he was detained. "I wondered what could be keeping him", I found myself speaking out. "I'm sure he hasn't met with any turmoil."
"Elaine, didn't you say Mark was coming for dinner"? My husband asked, as he walked downstairs.
"Yes, Frank, he did; he said he would be here by six. An hour has passed and I'm getting concerned, I wish the weather was not so cold tonight. The weather report says 30 degrees below."
"We'll wait thirty minutes, if he hasn't shown up by then, I'll go out and look for him".
"Honey, Mark has a good head on his shoulders, he'll be fine," Frank said putting his arms around me.
"I hope you're right... I sure hope you're right."
I poked at my food with my fork, trying to eat my dinner,but my thoughts were on Mark and the frigid night. Frank was putting on his winter apparel when the phone rangand I answered it.
"Hello", Is this Mrs. Campbell?
"Yes", I responded.
"This is the Cedar Hills Police Department".
"Yes", I asked in a worried tone.
"I'm afraid there's been an accident, involving your son".
Frantically I waved Frank in my direction and we both listened.
"There's been an accident on Highway M. Three cars involved two fatalities".
"Please, God... don't let it be Mark", I prayed.
"Your son is alive, but, Mrs. Campbell I must warn you he's being flown to Minneapolis, in grave condition".
Before the officer hung up, Frank took the phone. "Are you sure it's our son?"
"Yes sir, I am." "We looked at his cell phone address book and that is how we found your number".
"It will take us awhile to arrive, but we're leaving now," my husband said.
I fell into Frank's arms, sobbing. He stroked my hair, comforting me in the best way he could.
"Elaine, God is in control of our lives. He sees where Mark is. We have to trust Him, knowing He has our future in His hands. I'll help you with your coat. We need to be going."
The drive to Minneapolis was long and dreary. I sat looking out the window at the passing snowdrifts, trying to understand how this tragic night became a reality. The moon was aglow and the stars glittered but the dreariness of the evening wore on as my thoughts were intensely on Mark.
"Are you all right?" Frank asked as he took my hand.
"Yes, I' am", I replied.
"Honey, I've been praying for Mark since we heard the news." Frank assured me. "I am also praying for you, he said with a smile."
We finally arrived at the hospital. I found I had mixed emotions- joy that he was still alive - petrified how he might look. I glanced up at my husband and I knew he could feel what I was feeling.
"Baby, its going to be alright", he said as he drew me close. "I... here, by your side".
As we walked down the corridor, my mind flashed back to Mark's childhood. He had been a complacent child and one who brought joy to his parents. He also was our only child. After years of trying to conceive we finally conceded that, it was not God's will for us to have another child.
The E.R. physician was standing at the nurse's station as we approached, looking at someone's chart. I wondered if it might be Mark's.
"We're here to see Mark Taylor," My husband said.
"Mr. Taylor, I... Dr. Smith," he shook Frank's hand. "I must tell you that your son's condition is bleak."
"No"! I shouted, then covering my mouth with my hands. Fighting back the tears that would come.
"Mr. Taylor, after you have had some time with your wife, tell the nurse and she will page me".
"I will Dr. Smith", Frank said.
Putting his arms around me, Frank walked us to the nearby seats. Sitting down he held me in his arms with no concern over who was around, he Kissed my tear stained cheeks and stroked my hair.
"Honey, shh...shh...we will come through this, no matter the outcome. I promise you, we will".
"Frank, we are about to go see our baby, our only baby. I do not know if I can"!
After a few moments, we were speaking to Dr. Smith.
"What happened?" Frank asked, the doctor.
"From what the police report shows there were three cars involved. One was a drunk driver, another was a mother with two children and the third was your son. The driver who was intoxicated hit your son's vehicle head on. The drunk driver had been traveling at a high rate of speed."
"Your son has internal injuries and a fractured skull. I am sorry to report he was not wearing a seat belt. Its a miracle that hes even alive".
My legs felt as if they were going to buckle. As Mark's mom, the doctor's words were unbearable to hear, but I was reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul, " I can do all things through Christ who gives me strenght" Philippians 4:13 NIV/KJV If I ever needed to read more of the Word and trust what it said, the time was then.
"You may go in and see your son", Dr. Smith said.
"Honey, I am right here", Frank assured me again.
As we walked into our Son's hospital room, the sounds of the respirator and monitors seemed to be all we could hear. Mark was sedated and appeared comatose; His head bandaged and parts of his face as well. Contusions were also visible, he was not the Mark we knew and loved, and yet that night loved him more.
Frank and I sat beside Mark's bed for what seemed like an eternity. I wanted to stay with him all night, but I knew what Frank and the doctor would say.
"Elaine, we need to have a time of prayer before we leave. I know what you're going to say, even before you say it, and I love you for it, so we'll check into the hotal down the street, he assured me.
Frank began to pray."Father, we come before you this night on behalf of our son.Frank began to pray. Lord, you see what has taken place in his life and you see that we need a miracle. However, we also know that we would be amiss if we prayed our will instead of yours be done.If it's Your will for Mark to survive, then we ask that his healing be quickly, with no repercussions from this accident. Be with the others who were involved in this accident, and yes even the one who hit our son. It's in Your Son's name we pray amen".
"Frank that was a beautiful prayer", I mustered through my heartache". I know God is going to answer". We each kissed our broken and bruised son goodbye for the night. I saw the tears in Frank's eyes. My husband was not one to show a lot of emotion, but when he does, one does not mistake it.
We walked outside hand in hand and a gush of bitterly cold air smacked our faces, along with new falling snow. Yes, it was going to be a bitterly frigid night. Thank goodness, the hotel was only two miles away. Tomorrow morning would find us here again.
The next morning came early or so it seemed, given the fact that we had a difficult time sleeping. The aroma of coffee was a warm welcome as we approached the dining area. I could not wait to arrive at the hospital to see my son. I Pondered what sort of a day it would be.
Our stay with Mark was much like it had been the night before.There was no change in his condition. He was not failing, nor was he improving. We knew we would have to go home at some point. The drive from Minneapolis was almost five hours. The distance was not our concern, but the length of stay was. Knowing we may not be able to stay with our son as long as we would hope.
A week later,at the hospital with Mark, Frank spoke those inevitable words I had hoped to never hear. "Elaine, you know we will be going home today."
"I know Frank, I wish there was some way to be in two places at once. I feel like I'm abandoning my son".
'Honey, don't torment yourself; you know if it were possible , we would be here every day. We'll come back as often as we can, and spend weekends here with Mark, Frank kindly replied.
We said our goodbyes to Mark, spoke to the physicians and made the five-hour drive home.
Four weeks later, our son passed away. We had been at his side when he drew his last breath. We had to come to the realization that our miracle was not going to be granted in the waywe had wanted. Frank had prayed that God's will would be done.
We were later told that the two fatalities in the accident were the children of the mom in the other car. My heart ached for their mother's loss, as it ached for my own.
We also learned that the man who had hit Mark's car had been released from the hospital a week prior to our son's death, awaiting sentencing.
Winter's frigid sounds no longer penetrates my ears. The stillness of a frigid winter night and the sounds of the machines that kept our son alive are incapable of haunting me anymore.
Author's Note: Winter's Frigid Sound was written as an inspirational essay. Even though I could have ended the story with a victory, Mark's recovery, I chose to end it with his death for a critical point about the importance of taking the time to protect yourself- and those who love you- by using your vehicle safety belts. I had envisioned Mark hurrying to see his folks, running late for dinner on that tragic evening, but the busyness of life prevented him from taking the few seconds to fasten his seatbelt which would have very possibly saved his life.
On a personal note, very dear to me. Many years ago, God used something so small- a seat belt- to save my Dad's life. A drunk driver, moving at a high rate of speed, hit my dad's truck from behind. His truck's cab buckled. If it wasn't for him wearing his seatbelt, his chest crushing into the steering wheel would have ended his life.
My name is Lori Godfrey and I am a Christian freelance writer and author. I also have been published in my home town newspaper. I write for a bi-monthly magazine and I am presently writing a memoir. I have two websites www.writingforhim.netwww.bibletruths.us As the author I hold the copyright.