Monday, October 10, 2011

I had one of those experiences that left me feeling inspired, humbled, and restored all my faith in the world. Every single little moment in an entire series of events fell into place at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place, and I am still in awe of the world.

This all happened Friday evening, after Matt had left to go spend the weekend with his family in Bald Knob (about 4 hours away), and after I had decided to keep a friend's 15 month old for a few hours so she could study. My car had started making some strange noises about a week or so ago but I didn't really think much of it, just another inconvenience. Friday night this noise got way more intense. Had I been driving by myself, I might not have even pulled over, but with someone else's kiddo in the car, I wasn't taking any chances. I pulled over on the next street I came to. It was a small street that you almost miss when driving by. I parked directly under the only street light and popped my hood. I didn't see anything on the dip stick so I immediately assumed that I had just blown my engine up.

Around this time, I heard some footsteps coming up behind me. I turned around right in time to see this big, 6 and a half foot guy walking up. He immediately said, "Don't be alarmed," which is always a great intro. It turned out he was a mechanic and he offered to push my car into his driveway. It was when we were getting it into the driveway that we realized it was definitely nothing to do with the engine, and most definitely something to do with my tire area. After I pulled into the driveway, I got the kid out of the car and we introduced ourselves. His name is Cecil and I met his wife Melissa as well. As we were doing introductions, a very loud Bronco drove by and Cecil got excited and instructed his wife to call Curtis. Then he explained that Curtis was the guy who had just drove by and that he was a technician at Firestone. Just a few minutes later he pulled in in no time at all, had my tire off of my car. He quickly discovered that it was my entire hub assembly that was shot. When he took it off my car, pieces of ball bearings were falling out all over Curtis' driveway. He told me there was no way I was going to make it home. During this whole time, I was just feeling so stressed. Here I was at some stranger's home, with someone else's baby, my husband was hours away at this point, no debit card (because Matt took it with him), only $20 cash,  and quickly feeling like I was going to have a panic attack. I mentioned something about calling a tow truck and Cecil let out a laugh and said, "Why would you do that? We have a trailer right there we could load it up on." He paused for a minute and then asked what time it was. Melissa replied that it was 7:57. Cecil asked Curtis if he thought O' Reily's auto part store would have a new hub assembly for my car and they quickly decided to go check. I explained my money situation and Cecil just shrugged it off like it was no big deal, insisting that he pay for it. I told him that was ridiculous and that I would most definitely be paying them back. They left about 8:15 to get the part and by 9:00, they had my entire car put back together. Cecil has purchased an almost $90 part for a complete stranger with the full faith that I would come back as promised to pay him back. They put in the labor of taking a wheel off and putting it back on without asking for a penny in return.

During the whole time that the guys were talking and working, Melissa and I were talking and sharing about our lives. I learned about her two preemie babies who were now 4 and 5, both with vaccine induced encephalopathy. They were completely bed ridden, nonverbal, and require a lot of care. They receive their food and meds through a PEG tube in their stomachs and Melissa is the one administering these feedings and meds all day long, seven days a week. This family has always just slipped through the cracks, having never received home health care. They were actually living out of their car when their daughter was released from the hospital and had to stop at any place they could to plug in her heart monitor. They only recently finally got a diagnosis for their children after years of testing. Once the children's hospital here decided they couldn't figure it out, the National Institute of Health flew her, her husband, and both kids to Bethesda, Maryland for a week of every single genetic test under the sun. After everything came back negative, the timeline they had to create revealed that about 5-7 days after her children received their shots at 5 months, they started having grand mal seizures. It was likely that these seizures which resulted in large amounts of swelling, led to the brain damage that made them how they are today. I just can't imagine how hard that must have been to watch one child go through this, have another preterm birth about a year later and then watch him go through exactly the same events with no explanation. Thankfully, they may have some sort of end in sight now that a governmental paid medical expert decided that her children's brain injury was definitely directly caused by the vaccines. They were told that their court case will likely be settled outside of court this spring and it will likely be for millions of dollars on top of a yearly medical stipend for each child. She asked if I would like to meet her kids since I was thinking of doing pediatric nursing and of course, I said yes. We went inside and she introduced me to her sweet children. Her son tries to communicate by blowing bubbles with his mouth and her daughter is nonresponsive to almost everything but when any one sings "Amazing Grace" she just lights up and smiles. They both have absolutely no muscle tone and sleep in special beds. They are on so much medication that I was really surprised by their activity and facial response. There was so much love, faith, and strength that just filled that room. It was also amazing to realize just how much I've learned this semester as I talked with this mother who really has become an expert on encephalopathy. Even after my car was repaired, we stayed about a half an hour longer just visiting them (and thanking them profusely while Cecil kept saying "it was no big deal.")

Their incredibly tough lives makes their kindness all the more incredible to me. I have always been fascinated with people who can continue to smile and not become hardened by the constant crap shoot in their lives.  It's a lot of envy and desire to learn from them, to let their attitudes wash over me. It was so awesome to me how every single little detail fell into place just right. Had I turned down any other street, I doubt my car would be in working order today. Also, the part was almost entirely paid for by the babysitting I was doing when I broke down. There is just no way I can do this story any justice with my writing, but I just felt it was a story that needed to be told. Call it fate, coincidence, God, or whatever you want to, but that doesn't make it any less wonderful.

When I returned Saturday to pay them, it was late afternoon and I apologized for not coming earlier in the day. Cecil said that they hadn't even thought about it and it was easy to believe him. I gave them a $25 gift card to the restaurant I wait tables at to give to their friend Curtis, overpaid Cecil for the part, and gave his wife a gift certificate for an hour long massage that I think is likely way over due. I assured them that this wouldn't be the last they heard from me and I hope to help them in every way possible to find home health care. They have received news today that all they need now is to get a prescription from their primary care provider that says home health care. Since my husband works for a home health care agency, I just can't help but feel like there was a reason that we met each other. It's strange, but this feels like just the beginning of something far more than one random act of kindness.


Heather @ A Little Hope in My Pocket said...

what an incredible story!

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