They looked forward to the five hour ride home together. Even though Carlos' Dad had always felt uneasy to travel together in one vehicle, they weren't overly concerned when they began their journey home. Carlos, Monica with their two children, Carlos' parents, Claudio and his bride all found their seats in the van and began the scenic drive home.
Monica who struggled with car sickness sat in the front seat holding Juliana. The scenery on the journey was pastoral and peaceful. Though the road was straight, the shoulders were narrow and often there was no space on either side of the road to safely allow a car to pass. As they passed a beautiful white church Monica looked down at Juliana and began to sing
"I am small and my heart is clean,
That was Monica's last memory of holding her little girl.
nobody but Jesus can live in me".
No one is completely sure of what happened that afternoon. The vehicle that caused the crash was untouched and left the scene and the driver was never found. Two vehicles collided and life changed forever.
One minute Monica was holding her little girl singing her a song and the next moment she was lying face down in the gravel unable to move. The first thing she heard was a woman begging her to keep her eyes closed. She never looked. The van was completely torn apart except for the seat that Monica sat in. One seat attached to the frame of the van, the rest was utterly torn apart.
Even though I walk through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid for
you are close beside me.
In the hospital only a thin curtain separated her from Juliana who the doctors
were doing their best to save.
Your rod and your staff
protect me and comfort me.
In and out of consciousness she was vaguely aware of her clothing being cut off. Cloths that felt harsh and rough were used to clean the dirt and gravel from the scrapes and lacerations on her body, arms and legs. Three hours later in intensive care Monica's parents and Carlos' Uncle were permitted to see her.
When the Uncle entered the room Monica opened her eyes and asked him the obvious question. "What of the others?" Unable to meet her gaze he replied "Everything is taken care of" and he left the room. Monica looked at her Mother and asked "everyone?" and her Mother nodded yes.
In a moment Monica realized the enormity of her loss. Her husband, her children, her parents in law, brother in law and sister in law . . .all of them, gone. How do you begin to wrap your mind around that? Was it possible that only hours earlier they had all stood by the pool for a picture?
Through it all Monica clung to the fact the her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ would not ever leave her or give her more than she could bear. She would never truly be alone. How long does it take to grieve the loss of a child?
How long does it take to grieve the loss of your family? Inconceivable.
I asked Monica what the single most difficult moment had been. With a sigh, she recalled the first time she went back to their church and sat alone in the bench that they had shared as a family.
She knew that God would not have brought her through the horrific crash without a plan for the rest of her life. She trusted Him and waited for the healing to begin.
Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
During the months that followed, Monica inscribed those words in her heart.
Tomorrow I will conclude Monica's story.