Columnist: The miracle in the sun
There are a few of you out there in newspaper land that may have doubts that miracles occur. I personally think that they happen every day. We are often so consumed with our own intelligence that seeing an obvious miracle from God is clouded by cynical blindness.
It was a beautiful September day in 2014 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. A morning where the sun glistens on the ocean and the sounds of the waves kissing the shore soothes your soul.
Our family vacation was beginning. All 15 of us looking forward to seven days of laughter and fun. A boisterous group of folks that love one another. However, from the very start of this particular day, I felt out of sorts.
It was the day we were renting the big pontoon boat to spend on the water at Perdido Key Bay. Everyone was excited.
By mid-afternoon we pulled the boat onto a tiny strip of land with a sandy beach surrounded by warm water. Everyone jumped into the water as I relaxed on the boat.
My back was turned away from the scene of activity when I felt a hand touch my arm from the water below.
“Mom,” Corey whispered, “I think I have hurt myself”.
My 39-year-old son looked noticeably gray.
“What did you do?” I questioned.
“I dove into the water and hit my head on the sand. I think I hurt my shoulder, it feels funny.”
Trying to hurry 13 other people onto the boat was a major task. Once we got them on board, no one had pushed the boat off the sand bar. Corey jumped out and pushed the heavy pontoon into the water by himself. I don’t think many of the group realized that something bad might have happened.
He sat at the end of the boat with his girlfriend, Kendra. I watched him as he jerked his neck left to right to pop it. I watched him as only a mother can. Suddenly, I felt this strange sense of urgency.
The closest trauma hospital was Sacred Heart in Pensacola. It was the opposite direction of where the rented house was in Gulf Shores. It was decided that all should return home except Heather, my daughter, Kendra and I would go on to the hospital just to make sure he was OK.
The two-lane road was packed with traffic and hours ticked by.
Just as we see the hospital, Corey quietly said, “I think we need to hurry.” While he had tried to protect us from worry he finally gave in to the gravity of the situation.
Panic and fear filled my body. Life was happening in lightning bolts and giant waves. My heart pounding, my daughter pale, Kendra scared.
After a few minutes in the crowded waiting area, we were called into one of three cubicles to give pertinent information to a young woman. As Corey was telling her what happened a man appeared in the empty cubicle behind us. He was the head nurse in ER that at that moment needed a form and overheard Corey explaining his accident.
“You know what, let me see if I can expedite you to X-ray. Sit in this wheelchair and try not to move until I see if it is available.
“On second thought”, he added, “let me just take you with me.”
Kendra, Heather and I were escorted to an ER room. Corey returned and was joking with the nurse. He was flat on a gurney now with a hard neck brace supporting him.
A woman entered the room with a broad smile and introduced herself as the ER physician. She examined Corey while waiting on the scan results.
Toes wiggled perfectly; strength perfect, sensation perfect and hands moved fluently.
“He looks good, but let’s stay still until we get those results.”
She thought he would be fine.
After a few minutes she walked back into the room. Her demeanor noticeably changed. Fear immediately overwhelmed me.
“Mr. Lockman, you have an angel on your shoulder. Your neck is badly broken. I have never seen an injury like this with the spinal cord still intact.”
The doctor was shaking her head in disbelief.
I left the room, walked to a corner and beat my fist into the walls. For a minute, I went into a dark hole that consumed me. I was completely overcome with self-pity.
My daughter grabbed and held me while teams of doctors raced into the room that held my only son.
And then God just came walking down the hall. I felt Him as he filled me with courage and conviction and trust. I climbed out of the dark hole about as fast as I went in it. I walked back into the room and realized I was alone with Corey. The room was dimly lit and eerily quiet. It was as if we were suspended in time, a break in activity, a moment to be mother and son.
I held his hand as tears slid down his cheeks. Surgery was going to take place, a metal plate, screws and danger.
“Mom, I need to tell you some important things. I don’t have much in life, but I do have a couple of insurance policies and you are the beneficiary. Save the money to give to my niece to help her in life.”
He told me exactly what to do with his ashes if he didn’t make it.
“Mom, pray with me.”
I took both of his hands and prayed for God’s will and help. Just as I finished a long prayer, the lights were raised and people again began the flurry of activity around my son. Where had they all gone? Odd.
Once in ICU, teams of folks including doctors, chaplains, nurses and students would look in to see the miracle of Corey. Absolutely no paralysis, no side effects from a completely broken neck that he had twisted and turned for many hours after the initial fracture.
As the months passed and we all resumed life, both Corey and I wondered many “why’s?” We saw so many left as quadriplegics after the same injury and in wheel chairs. Why was he spared?
All I can tell you for sure is that a miracle occurred on that sunny day. The miracle touched many. It touched those that were not too blind to see that God had carried my son to safety from a place where the water meets the sky in heavenly shades of azure blue.