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Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Sunday, July 4

What Doesn't Kill You....and Whatnot

This morning as I write I am remembering a Tuesday morning exactly 10 years ago today. It was the 4th, I slept in, hubby got up for an early appointment with his newest hobby, flying lessons. I vaguely remember him kissing me before he left at 7 am. It was ridiculously hot but his lesson the previous evening got rained out by an unexpected thunderstorm so we took the opportunity to go have some fun together. We went to see a movie, play putt putt, and goof around in the arcade for hours. We had enjoyed a fun evening together but I was tired this morning, having been out so late. Hubby however didn't want to let a week go by without logging his hours so he set out early to meet his instructor.

I rolled out of bed around 8:30 and got to work on a project with the kitchen's tile floor which we had just finished installing. I was lying on my stomach in the kitchen floor a little before 9am when the phone rang. I figured it was Mitch wanting to know if I wanted him to bring breakfast or if I would like to go out with him to eat. Instead the call went like this.
Him: "Mrs. Herndon?"
Me: "Yes?"
Him: "Mrs. Herndon this is Mark calling with Vanderbilt Hospital"
thinking it was a fund-raising or solicitation call
Me:  **impatient tone** "yes?"
then thinking how in the world I could say not thank you and hang up without feeling like a bum.
Him: "Mrs. Herndon, I am a nurse on Lifeflight and I am calling to tell you..."
ok, now I am really going to feel guilty telling him no.
"your husband, Mitch, has been in an accident and is headed to Vanderbilt Hospital."
My thoughts are racing "a car wreck? He was only 5 miles away, they say most accidents happen close to home, why didn't I hear it? Why is he going to Vanderbilt? who is this on the phone with me?"
But I said something like
Me: "mmm...o..k?"
Him: "Mrs. Herndon? Are you still there? Do you understand what I am telling you?"
why is he calling me Mrs. Herndon? he needs to stop that...I am only 32
Me: "Marsha, and yes, he was in a car wreck, so I need to come to Vanderbilt to pick him up?"
Him: "No, Ma'am, his plane crashed this morning around 7:45"
Me: "Oh, what? Plane crash? Oh. OK."
Him: "Your husband is here with us, we're on our way to Vanderbilt hospital. He keeps giving me this number and asking me to call you. You need to meet us in the Emergency Room can you do that?"
At this point I am losing it. My mind is running wild.
Me: "Yeah, huh? What? Meet you? Ummmm....where?"
Him: (patiently) Meet us at the emergency entrance at Vanderbilt Hospital, OK, can you do that Mrs. Herndon? Do you have someone to drive you? I don't want you to drive yourself ok?"
yeah, someone will drive me, I will do 100mph down I24 to get myself there!
Him: "Mrs. Herndon, who can drive you. Promise me you won't drive"
Me: "My friend. My friend Julie will, ok?" I had no idea if Julie would or not.
Him: "Allright I will see you there, OK?"

But I had hung up the phone trying to think what to do now. The thought of him having a car wreck seemed so distant and comforting compared to a plane crash and it suddenly hit me that he was being LIFEFLIGHTED. That was only for the very most serious conditions. All of a sudden I broke down, but only for a moment. Called Julie, called my parents, called his parents. Cried. Broke down, threw stuff, screamed and yelled "why me? why me? why did this have to happen now? why Mitch?"

By the time I did all this the phone rang again and there was a woman on the other end.
Her: "Mrs. Herndon? This is (I don't remember her name) I am an ER nurse at Vanderbilt?"
Me: "Yes?" ohgodhe's dead he'sdead! whatamIgoingtodo?
Her: "Mrs. Herndon your husband is refusing to give us permission to sedate him. He won't allow us to give him any medication. His injuries are pretty serious and he really needs to be medicated so that the doctors can get to work. We need consent."
Me: "You tell the doctors I said to do anything the have to do to save him for me. And you tell my stubborn ass husband that he needs to let the doctors do whatever the HELL they want to do and shut his mouth, will you tell him that for me? He doesn't like to take a lot of medications but this is kind of a different circumstance. Will you tell him? Is that enough consent?"
Her: **stifling a giggle** "Yes, Ma'am. Thank you Mrs. Herndon, that is all we need. Are you on your way?"
Me: "Yes" I lied and hung up the phone. Waited and waited and waited for Julie to get there, it seemed like forever, and then headed to Vanderbilt with HER driving 100mph.

That moment, the moment on the phone with the nurse, I knew. I knew that I couldn't lose it again. I knew that I had to be hard as rocks. I knew I had to be a steel magnolia, whether it was in me or not. I had to reach up and pull myself to the surface if I was to be able to get through what was happening. I couldn't be self-absorbed. This was about him, not me. I couldn't be self-pitying, I had to be strong.

That day changed everything in my life. It began a year long odyssey of hospitalization, recovery, physical therapy and caregiving. It changed both our perceptions of life and love. It confirmed our spiritual but non-christian beliefs. It taught us both patience. It almost tore our marriage apart, but in the end it bonds us together forever.

No one really knows what we went through during those months of recovery, but one thing I will say is that I never broke down to anyone except one person. Other than Julie, not a soul ever saw me cry, be hurt, get upset or whine about the circumstance. On the second day he was in the hospital I went home for a shower and broke down crying under the water. That day I made plans for what to do if he died. I made peace with being a 32-year-old widow. I don't think I would have made it through if I hadn't done that.

Our friends rallied together to help in ways too numerous to mention. They loaned us a house, they brought us food, they took me out to lunches and dinners just to get me out of the hospital. They mowed our yard and trimmed shrubs in the July and August heat. They helped me pay bills and sent money for groceries because we were both out of work. I realized that I had great friends. I got to know my father-in-law better. I realized my own strength and the bounds to which you can endure something for the one you love. I learned that I am strong. And sure. And I learned to always look for the good out of a situation rather than the bad. It is the only way to survive.


  1. I can barely see to type...this still makes me cry.

  2. This made me cry and love you even more!

  3. still an amazing story and you are still an amazing woman.