Sunday, June 16 2024 - 2:16 PM
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Losing Mindy

It was a crisp, clear sunny afternoon in Walla Walla, Washington. My family was enjoying being around our house one summer afternoon after church while my father was in Turkey for a business trip. My oldest sister Mindy was in Wenatchee for the summer, taking care of my great-grandmother, who lives with my aunt. And my mother was visiting with a friend in our living room while I was laughing and joking with my sister Marissa in my bedroom.

Marissa and I were playfully poking fun at my absent older sister Mindy when a strange, horrifying sound rent the air. It was my mother. I could not tell if she was laughing or crying as she burst hysterically into my bedroom. My heart began pounding with fear. What was going on?

“Mindy’s been in a car accident!” she screamed. Oh no, oh no, oh no, I thought to myself. She has got to be joking. This must be some terrible, horrible joke. But it wasn’t.

On the Way

Marissa and I went downstairs to play with my brother Matthew and his friend as my mother figured out what to do. We kept telling each other that Mindy probably was just fine. Everything would work out.

Soon my mother screamed out that we were going to Wenatchee, and if we were not in the car in two minutes, she would leave us behind. We scrambled as fast as we could into the car, with my mom’s friend driving, and headed off to Wenatchee. Marissa, Matthew, and I sat in the back seat together, laughing and joking the whole trip there. After all, nothing bad could ever happen to our family.

On the way to Wenatchee, my mother used a cell phone to contact my father in Turkey and figure out the details of exactly what had happened to my sister. We found out that the person who had told us of her accident had gotten the details confused. Mindy had not gotten into a car accident. She had been at a river with our cousin and some friends and had gotten caught in some rapids. She was underwater for quite some time before she was rescued.

At the Hospital

When we drove up to the hospital, my siblings and I were shocked to see how grave everyone awaiting us looked. “Why do they look so upset?” we whispered to each other. “Mindy is going to be fine. They are all just paranoid.”

Marissa, Matthew, and I waited with church members in the hospital hallway as my mother went to talk to the doctors and see Mindy. My siblings and I felt uncomfortable around all the sad church members and aunt and uncle. We felt even more uncomfortable when our mother came back from seeing Mindy and pulled us into a special side room to talk to us. She told us that we were about to see Mindy, but before we did, we needed to know that she looked very different from when we had last seen her. She said that she was in a coma, but that the doctors said that sometimes people could hear you when they are in a coma, so we needed to talk to Mindy when we saw her.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw as soon as I walked into Mindy’s hospital room. The moment I walked into the hospital room, all I could do was sob. Mindy lay on the bed, bloated with water, bruised, hooked up to all kinds of machines—looking very deathly. The moment I saw Mindy, I realized that everything was not okay. Everything was very, very wrong. Until that moment, I had not even considered the possibility that anything bad could ever happen to my family. But seeing her there, looking like that, was a cold slap of reality. I choked out an “I love you,” as did my siblings, and left the room stunned.

Surreal Experience

The whole experience felt surreal. There we were, going peacefully along with our lives, and then boom! Life can change in just one instant. After a few days of being hooked up to life support, the doctors pronounced my sister legally brain dead. On July 18, 2006, we pulled the life support. After the funeral, I went along as if nothing had changed—yet everything had changed. I had a smile on my face but so much pain in my heart.

I never stopped loving or believing in God, but it was a difficult experience. At the time, I thought no good could ever come out of that experience, but now I am not so sure. From that awful experience, I became a more loving, compassionate individual. My time of hardship actually made me draw closer to God. I love the verse in the Bible, Psalms 34:18, that says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves such as are contrite in spirit.” That verse was such a comfort! How reassuring to know God was close.

We may never understand why bad things happen here on earth, but we can know this. God loves us, and He has a plan in everything. The important thing is to hold onto Him and never let go, even when the weather is rough.

If you liked this, you might also like Unexplained Loss | Moving Forward: Dealing With Grief 

McKenzie Cosaert Wallace writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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About McKenzie Cosaert Wallace

Mckenzie Cosaert Wallace

McKenzie Cosaert Wallace

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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