Thursday, July 30, 2015

Devastated but not destroyed

My 8 year old daughter, one of my twin girls, was killed in a freak accident on June 4 this year, exactly a month after I lost my father.

I was at work when my husband took our four girls riding (I would have loved to join them. Horses are our family thing. All six of us ride and love horses, love them deeply). The horse my daughter was riding started acting up on her. This was a horse owned by another family that are close friends of ours; my husband had trained the horse, we had both ridden him and felt he was safe for our daughter to ride, with help, as she's still inexperienced. Her dad was helping her teach the horse to "yield" when he started tossing his head and hopping. My husband let go of the horse's head and backed off, taking the pressure off the horse. Instead of calming, as he normally did, the horse reared, slipped, and went over backwards, crushing my daughter instantly. My husband and two of my daughters witnessed the accident up close. She was at a hospital within six minutes, but they were unable to save her.

Our family has been surrounded by a tremendous outpouring of love, care, and financial, physical, mental and spiritual support. Many a night when it's time to tuck my three girls into bed and the tears threaten to turn into sobs of agony because of the fourth girl who should be there and isn't, one friend or family member or another has texted me encouragement and scripture right when I needed it most.

I've been living on prayers.

I haven't been able to imagine writing again, especially since the story that I've poured my heart into the past few years was a story about twin girls, one of whom was supposedly killed in a freak accident. In my story, her sister finds her twin and rescues her.

If only that could be true in real life.

To our amazement, my husband's and mine, our girls wanted to keep their horses and continue to ride them, and even show them in fair. (The horse my daughter was riding has since been sold to professionals who are watching him closely to see if there is any more dangerous behavior).

Friends lent us their very well trained Shetland pony for my other 8 year old daughter to ride, and she also fell in love with a miniature horse, Buttercup, that has been a great source of both smiles and comfort to us.

My 11 year old rode her horse Tuffy in the trail course at fair, and my 13 year old rode her horse Spring in all her usual events. She not only won first place in the barrel race and pole bending race, but had the fastest overall time, even faster than high school senior riders... and she's going on to compete in state fair.

The three girls also put together their own "Ride to Music" program for fair, which is where you pick a song and theme and design your own riding patterns and costumes. They rode in memory of their sister and their costumes were designed after their sister's favorite things:  horses, dogs, unicorns, Pegasus, Pokemon, Minecraft, and butterflies.

The girls didn't do as well as they had hoped in many of the events in fair. They hadn't had time to practice much this summer, for a very painful reason. But they stuck with it, and learned good sportsmanship, and in the process I found I could start to breathe again, I could start to live again.

I haven't been keeping a journal, just short notes, incomplete sentences, bursts of bitterness, anger, agony. But also memories of my little girl that I don't want to forget. Moments when my girls made me smile. Drops here and there of hope, fragments of the painful but powerful talks my husband and I have had, my mother and I, my friends and I.

Slowly these tiny notes have been expanding. Full sentences. Paragraphs. I am writing again.

My life was changed in an instant. My heart was crushed along with my daughter's, except I was forced to keep living. For weeks it was hard to even breath. I cried out to God, Why? He gave no answer. I begged him. I doubted him. One moment I believe with all my heart that she's safe in heaven, and I'll see her again someday, and the next I'm tempted to believe it's just random madness in a random, hateful world where terrible things happen everyday.

Finally a few days ago, God answered me. Romans 8:32 says "He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all."  My daughter was not spared. God did not spare his own son. But the hope of Jesus is that he went through death, and rose again, to give us hope of resurrection, of eternal life.

I am going through the worst possible trial a parent can have, but I find strength and comfort along the way, and courage to share my faith. Thank you for letting me share.
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